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Compliment launchpad

Here we encourage tamariki to look for good and kind acts over the week (or longer) then, collect these to turn into a paper aeroplanes which land in the hands of the person who did the great things. 

Firstly, the science...

Our negativity bias is like our brain's automatic tendency to focus on negative stuff more than the positive. It's like our minds are wired to pay more attention to bad news, insults, or failures, while the good stuff sometimes gets brushed off. One way to counteract this bias is by consciously shifting our focus towards the positive. In fact, taking time each day to appreciate the good things in our lives can rewire our brains to notice and savour the positives. And another trick is to challenge our negative thoughts. Like, when we catch ourselves dwelling on the bad stuff, we can ask ourselves if there's another way to look at it, a more positive angle.So, even though negativity bias is a natural part of our wiring, we can totally overcome it with a little mindfulness and looking for what’s good and right.

Why this activity?

Sometimes we go through patches of being really focused on the negative, and for tamariki this can be certain times of the day, like the lunch break. This is about changing that habit during this time, and beyond so that tamariki begin to view their peers more kindly and positively.

You'll need

  • Some post-it notes and a container to hold these (an ice-cream container would do the trick), paper to make paper aeroplanes or a tablet or shared platform device.

  • Before you start too, have a look at this clip by Rick Hanson who's been the most influential in the negativity bias research. 

What to do

Firstly, check out the clip by Rick Hanson.

Then, kōrero with your tamariki about the negativity bias using the science section above and what you’ve learned from Rick Hanson’s video:

  • We are primed to look for what bad and wrong, rather than what's good and right

  • We have 5 x more neurons to do this - which made sense when we were under constant threat from … being eaten!

  • But nowadays, if we allow our negativity bias to take over, that can be pretty awful… so here’s what we can do to support us better and change up the way we think about things:

    • Actively look for what’s good and right

    • Enjoy that feeling


Each day before lunchtime this week remind tamariki to actively look for what's kind, good and right during their break. Then when they return practise the activity in Rick Hanson’s video:

  • Think about a good or kind thing that someone did at lunchtime or even before

  • Conjure up how this made you feel - staying positive (enriching it)

  • Stay in that feeling for a count of 5, to give time for your tamariki to ‘absorb’ the positive experience.

You might want to just develop this habit, without taking this activity any further. That is totally cool - you're embedding a positively focussed, mindful practice which - ka rawe!

In time or over a certain period (say a week), you might also like to:

Ask tamariki to write, record or draw the thing they noticed either using ipads to do this, adding the message in a set space on a shared learning platform and sending the message to you or collecting these on small pieces of paper and posting them in the container. 


Repeat this after every lunch time for as long as you'd like - it would make an incredibly powerful habit.


If you're doing this over a week, on Friday after lunch transfer the week's notes to pieces of paper that will eventually be made into a dart. Add the name of the person, and all their positive comments and observations.

Add more to any that seem a little low!

After lunch add any more observations of kind or good things, then give out the dart pages (but not to the people who they belong to!). Ask tamariki to keep these quiet and follow the youtube clip below to make the compliment sheet into a paper aeroplane.


This is just one example of how to make an paper aeroplane, but tamariki might work together to teach each other, or find better video versions. Or if you have paper aeroplane expertise - you might want to lead tamariki through your own! 


Head outside with your tamariki, taking their aeroplanes with them. The aim now is to get those aeroplanes landing with their owner! You might do this in an organised way (as a large circle taking turns) or ask tamariki to ‘send’ their aeroplane to the person it belongs to. The chaos won’t matter!

Try and capture some of this on an iPad to show whānau and remind tamariki of this time.

Tamariki can then sit and read their compliment notes on their aeroplanes.


You might:

  • Gather tamariki back into a circle and ask them to share one thing from a dart.

  • You might ask them how good thing has made them feel

  • You might discuss noticing good things at lunchtimes and how this has made their break times feel.


Or you might let them go for the day and come and check-in with you with any questions or observations they’d like to share.

If it's been successful, keep coming back to it or develop it as a daily practice.

Some other options:


  • In our experiment of this activity, the Mindfulness in Schools Ōtautahi trainer asked tamariki if they had any things they wanted to share about their teacher too. This felt really good as 3 or 4 tamariki offered heart-felt compliments about them… Just a thought!

  • You could turn out the messages (sharing them). Or give out one to each tamariki to turn into a paper aeroplane and film the process of making "good things fly!"

  • At the end of the week ask tamariki to raise their hand and kōrero about anyone they're grateful for this week, and why.

Kaiako card

To make things easier, refer to or print the kaiako card for this activity.

Whānau engagement

Take photos of the darts and send them to whānau - video tamariki opening some of the darts up and see their expressions as they share these. 

Send information home about the negative bias and the power of counteracting this and how we can try looking for 5 positive interactions to 1 corrective interaction with tamariki. 

And to add to this...

Karen Young (Hey Sigmund and author of Hey Warrior) offers this article which we think is pretty cool too

Other awesome activity all about compliments and whanautanga is our Compliment musical freeze and Compliment circle

Curriculum links

Health and PE Curriculum   

Personal health and physical development: A4 - Personal identity  

Relationships with other people: C1 - Relationships 

Relationships with other people: C2 - Identity, sensitivity, and respect 

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