By: @MrZachG

Most teachers have experienced a week where the students feel down in the dumps. This could be due to a number of factors, sometimes out of the teacher’s control. You can’t always have the best week of your life.

When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher must have sensed that we were having one such week and he busted out an activity that I have done every year since I began teaching.

What this 3rd Grade (me middle right)? Who knows, but that mullet!

Compliment Collage

How to do it? You basically hastily cut up a bunch of strips of paper and give enough to each student so that they can give one compliment to each of their peers. I try to give them some guidelines:


I always find it interesting that there is some kid that immediately starts saying, “I can’t think of any for so-and-so”. This is a great teachable moment. There is always something we can say nice about even the people we get along with the least.

Once the compliments are completed for all of the students, they are destined to be consolidated onto one piece of paper or poster. My teacher just typed them up for us and put them up in the room. We then had a museum walk where we looked at each others’ compliments. This is great but you can add one more part that students just love, and your neighboring teachers will just hate.

Cannon Ball

When I worked at camp, we had this tradition of giving compliments to each other as we sat in our cabins during the final moments of the day. We called this time “embers”, a name I quite enjoy. Once the compliments were given, one by one each camper would exit the cabin and scream out their compliment as loud as they could.

Boy shouting

This was inevitably followed by a huge round of applause from the group, and the cathartic feeling you get from such a “Cannon Ball” is out of this world. The Cannon Balls would persist until the Camp Director’s dog made such a fuss that he’d have to drag him up to prove to him that nothing was the matter.

In the quiet of some schools, this might seem like a challenge, but I’ve always been able to get away with it, usually by having students go into a closet/link room/office and shutting the door. They feel alone enough that every student will participate, but we can hear them just the same. And the noise is muffled so that Mr. Smith across the hall doesn’t get too mad when a kid screams, “I have beautiful eyelashes!” during his math lesson.

Try out the Compliment Collage and Cannon Ball when your kids know each other well and they’re just not feeling it that week. And keep complimenting your kids as much as possible.

Lesson plan Here

Video about how to teach kids to compliment

4 thoughts on “Compliments During Times of Hardship

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