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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Videos about Kindness, Compassion, and Service (part 1 of 2)

updated August 31, 2020

posted by Catharine Hannay

A few weeks ago, I posted a list of songs about kindness and compassion.  Last week's focus was songs about understanding and helping people from different backgrounds.   

Continuing the theme of 'compassion in action', here are ten videos about small acts of kindness and large acts of  philanthropy, with brief descriptions to help you decide what might be most appropriate for your students.  (If you teach very young children, I recommend Kindness Boomerang.)

Scroll to the end of the post for a list of questions to spark reflection and discussion of the videos and of the different ways we can empathize with and care for others.

1. Hand in Hand Ballet: a young woman is in distress because she has only one arm… until a young man with one leg offers her his crutch. 

2. Kindness Boomerang: one small act of kindness sets off a chain reaction.  

3. A third grade class is inspired to film their own version of a “Kindness Boomerang” in an ordinary school day.

4. Maggie Dunne, who started a nonprofit while still in college,  describes her efforts to combat extreme poverty on American Indian reservations.  (Scroll down the page for the video.) You can find more information at  You may also be interested in reading a New York Times article about a wave of suicides and suicide attempts among Oglala Lakota youth, Ms. Dunne's and her colleagues letters to the editor in response, and a Mindful Teachers interview with Ms. Dunne on Mindful Teaching of Native American History and Life

5. "Touching the Untouchable"An African American Buddhist nun helps local activists provide safe drinking water for a Dalit ("untouchable") village.  The 25-page film guide includes a common-core-aligned lesson plan that incorporates mindfulness and social emotional learning.
(Co-producer Meena Srinivasan is the author of Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom. You may be interested in her interview about The Best Children's Books about Mindfulness.)

6. Retirees build hand-cranked carts to provide dignity and mobility to adults and children who've lost the use of their legs through accidents, land mines, or polio.  

7. An elementary school raises money to build and ship ten of the hand-cranked vehicles.

8. Countess Albina du Boisrouvray responded to her beloved son’s death by donating most of her fortune to helping other children. You can find more information at

9. Homeless Shelter Surprise: fifty homeless adults and children get a gourmet meal, and a chance to be treated with dignity. (The “Prank It Forward” series provides amazing surprises to help individuals and organizations.)

10. 400 students Wave Goodbye to Beloved Granny

"For over a decade, Tinney Davidson waved out the window of her home to students on their way to school. Now she's moving away, so the students gave her a proper send-off."

(I couldn't find this on youtube); video available on Facebook

Questions for Reflection and Discussion: 
  • Which was your favorite video?  Why?  
  • Which person or organization would you most like to emulate?  
  • After watching these videos, did your opinion change of any of the people or groups represented?  
  • Think about this quote from Dr. Seuss: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Do you have a favorite cause or charity? What are some ways you could contribute?
  • Are there any people in your neighborhood/city/country who are living in extreme poverty? What are some ways other people are trying to help them? Could you participate in or contribute to one of these projects?
  • Do you know anyone who deserves a reward? Would this person like a “prank it forward” type of surprise, or would they prefer a quieter acknowledgement? What could you do to make that happen?
  • Would you prefer to make a big difference to a small group of people or a small difference to a big group of people?  What would you say in response to comments like "you can't help everyone"?


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