What is Friendly Friday?

Every Friday, my class and I have “Friendly Friday.”  It’s a great tradition that was started last year.   Friday afternoons can be tough and so, I started doing some fun activities that were steeped in the principals of SEAL: get creative and do something kind for another person.

Many times, my students would pick the name of another classmate and secretly create a note or card for that person.  Later, I would present each card to the students somewhat ceremoniously.  It was a great way to promote and teach kindness, appreciating others and their interests, finding something good in another person and how to get creative on the spot.  Not to mention, we also practiced making eye contact with and saying thank you to the person who made the card as well as saying, “You’re welcome.”

Each time, I would put some parameters around the materials they could use (only 1 piece of paper and crayons) or how much time they could spend creating it.  We would start each creative session discussing how to create something for another person even if you didn’t know them well, and come up with some ideas to help those who might need a little push in the right direction.

Making Hands

This past week, we took the creative part to a new level and made a great piece of class art! Here’s what we did:

First we talked about different ways we can be friendly to other people regardless of whether or not they are our “friends.”  Many ideas came up:

  • Say hi.
  • Smile.
  • Help them pick up something that fell.
  • Help them in they fall.
  • Say, “You’re a nice person.”
  • Wave to your friend.
  • Tell someone they look good.
  • Invite someone to have lunch with you.
  • Ask them how their day was.
  • Play with someone on the playground.

Next, I showed my fourth graders the example of my hand.  “Everyone is going to make their own Friendly Hand that shows one way you can be friendly to another person.”

(Of course, you can take a different approach to this by calling them “Helping Hands” or “Kind Gestures.” Do whatever works for you!  I kept it to friendly because of my Friendly Friday theme.)

Finally, it was time to get students making their hands.  I demonstrated how to place their hands and forearms on the paper and invited kids to help one another – another lesson in being friendly!

Once students drew their hands, I asked them to each write a draft of what they would put on their forearm so that I could check the spelling.  Then, each student could decide to either design and color or cut out their hand first.

Finally, I ended up with a classroom’s worth of hands to start arranging and gluing to the background.  That was fun!  The kids loved standing around, watching, making sure I didn’t miss theirs, and reading others’ hands.


Always Reflect with SEAL!

As with any good SEAL activity, we took a little time to reflect on the experience before cleaning up and getting ready to go home.  Some comments were:

“I like how some have the same words and others are different.”

“I like how So-and-so layered their colors.”

“Everyone’s hands look so different from one another!”

“So-and-so did a great job with her design.”

“I tried to make my colors match what I wrote.”

I also tried to steer the reflections to an understanding of how everyone is different and created something similar, yet so different from everyone else.  A visual lesson in social-awareness!


This can easily be adapted to older kids in middle and even high school.  It’sall about your approach (you know your kids best) and your expectations both in what they write and what they create.

Here are some ideas:

  • Have students create a poem about friendship or kindness to write on their hand.
  • Show students’ individuality by having them create “Henna Hands” or “Zentangle Hands.”
  • Change up the materials.  Sharpie and watercolors are always fun.  So is coloring with markers and washing over with a wet paintbrush.
  • Students can make a helping hand to give to a peer, teacher, parent or younger student.
  • On the hand, they can write down a great quote, an act of kindness, a good intention or an act of gratitude.
  • Students can present a hand to someone who did something great: “Give Yourself a Hand!”
  • Have students “Raise Their Hand!” and state something they are good at or proud of doing.  This could be great after a term, the school year or a long project.  (Make long arms for this idea so that it looks like the hands are being raised.)

There are so many possibilities with hands!  Have fun with this one!