"Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch" Kindness Activity
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli is one of my favorite picture book read alouds. It’s perfect for February and Valentines, but most importantly, I love using it to address how much our kindness can impact another human being.
Mr. Hatch is a lonely, introverted character. Each day he goes through the motions of his lonely life, getting ready for his job at the shoelace factory, keeping to himself all day, and returning home to another evening alone.
…But on Valentine’s day, he receives a gift that changes everything—a huge box of chocolates shaped like a heart. Although he doesn’t know who sent him the gift, it puts an extra pep in his step. All of a sudden, he is outgoing and interacts with his neighbors. He finds ways to lend a helping hand and show kindness and concern for others. And, because of his change in actions, friendships develop, he’s no longer withdrawn, and he feels like a part of his community. All this because of a heart shaped box of chocolates!
Until—Mr. Hatch finds out that the box of chocolates was not meant for him. You’ll have to read to see how the story concludes, but I promise, you won’t want to miss sharing this one with your students! (And, it’s perfect for any time of the year, not just Valentines!)
I pair this read aloud with the “Plastic Heart” Activity, one of my most favorite lessons. With the plastic heart activity, I give students a tangible way to pass on kindness around our school and community. Read on for how to implement my favorite kindness activity with your students.
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Materials for the Kindness Activity:
Decorative Plastic Hearts (like these on Amazon or found at the Dollar Store)
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
Can’t grab the book in time for your lesson? Although I always prefer reading aloud to my students myself, you can show the read aloud through this video on Youtube.
Background for this Kindness Activity:
This lesson is an opportunity to teach your students to have an open heart so that they are better able to share love and kindness with those around them.
The plastic heart becomes a symbol for letting others know that we care about them and passing kindness on to others, rather than holding it tight all for ourselves, afraid we will never get another heart or receive another act of love and kindness ourselves. The idea is for students to pass the heart on and for it to continue spreading love.
Kindness Activity Lesson Plan
1) Read aloud Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. Discuss how Mr. Hatch could choose to have an open heart or a closed heart. Receiving the box of chocolates caused Mr. Hatch to have an open heart towards the world and he was more aware and conscious of other people's needs.
Discuss how we can choose to be conscious of other people's needs and that if we just pay attention, we will see places where we can choose to extend kindness.
2) Give each student a plastic heart. Tell them that this heart represents love and kindness. “Each of you gets to choose whether or not you hold it tight or whether you pass it on to another person. This is an opportunity to tell someone what they mean to you, to brighten someone’s day, or to show someone that you recognize them, their actions, and their hard work.”
Tell students that if they choose to pass their heart on, they must tell the recipient why they are giving the heart away to them and say this statement, "This heart represents love and kindness. You can choose to hold it tight and keep it for yourself, or you can choose to pass it on to someone else. If you pass it on, you have to tell them the same thing.”
The heart can be given to anyone in the school community, at home, or outside of school. I encourage students to give it to someone outside of our classroom so that the love and symbolism spreads outside of our classroom BUT if students want to pass it on to someone in the classroom because they want to share what that friend or person means to them, this is acceptable—just imagine that the same heart will soon be passed on again!
3) Have a discussion about what it would mean to hold on to the heart tightly and what it would mean to be giving it away. Connect this back to Mr. Hatch and how he changed throughout the story. I explain to students that by holding on to the heart and not letting it go, we actually have less love. The heart is symbolic of what we have to pass on and by passing it on (with the plastic heart or through other actions), we are actually increasing the amount love and kindness in the world and creating a ripple effect!
4) You can repeat this activity throughout the year by giving students another heart to share!
Extending and Enhancing this Kindness Lesson
In my kindness themed morning meeting lessons, we discuss reasons that being kind can be challenging and come up with strategies for overcoming some of the reasons that being kind and considerate is hard sometimes. We look at examples of how acts of kindness often change the receiver’s outlook and encourage that person to extend acts of kindness themselves (we call this the ripple effect of kindness). We even generate a list of thoughtful acts of kindness with our “ABC’s of Kind Deeds.”
The plastic heart kindness activity is a suggested activity from my Kindness Morning Meeting Theme Set. The Kindness theme set is included in a bundle of 4 other morning meeting themes that contain suggested resources (including more picture book read alouds and web-based videos), key vocabulary, related quotations (for inspiring students and for teaching analysis), self-reflection and goal setting, class discussion questions, and student journal pages.