Lesson Plan: Teaching Kindness with Chrysanthemum


Early elementary students experience a tactile and visual lesson about how unkind words can “wrinkle” your heart. The lesson develops emotional intelligence[1] by making the connection between words, actions and feelings. This lesson, when introduced at the beginning of the year, allows educators to refer back to the concept of a wrinkled heart during times when students are having difficulty getting along or being kind.

Learning Outcomes:

Children will be able to demonstrate kindness, treat others respectfully and generate strategies for problem solving.

Materials Required:

Teaching and Learning Activities:

1. Read the story Chrysanthemum aloud to the students.

2. Each time someone in the story is unkind to the main character Chrysanthemum, have a different student come up and crinkle up a section of the large paper heart cut-out.

3. At the end of the story allow the students to take turns trying to smooth out the wrinkled heart.

4. Re-read the story with a focus on identifying when the characters are feeling comfortable or uncomfortable[2]. Ask students to name the feelings.

5.  Have a discussion to make the connection between words, actions and feelings. Use the paper heart to show how you can't completely get rid of the wrinkles.  It’s like a person's heart that may stay a bit "wrinkled" after you say or do something that is unkind.


  • Use a different story[3] that addresses a particular issue or problem that is specific to your classroom. Use the concept of creating a tactile and visual effect with construction paper.

  • Give each student their own smaller paper heart to crinkle up as you read the story.

Follow-up Activities:

  • Have students generate a list of things they can do or say to help make someone's heart feel happy.


Emotional intelligence includes the abilities to recognize, label, express and regulate emotions.

If your students need additional time exploring how feelings can be comfortable and uncomfortable, try Lesson Plan: Puppets Deal with Frustration.

Heart-Mind Online offers picture book recommendations organized according to the five positive human qualities of Heart-Mind well-being.

  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.