As I've been wrapping up lessons in classrooms (grades 3-5), I have been using the crumpled heart metaphor. It's been a powerful lesson to end with, though you could easily use it mid-year during a unit on kindness or anti-bullying.
I started by having students each cut out a heart from a small red rectangle. Then, each student was asked to write four things:
1. your name
2. the name of someone important to you
3. an activity you enjoy
4. one word that best describes you
I talked with them about the importance of protecting our heart and sharing our information with people we trust. I showed them my own heart and gave examples of statements that could be made that would hurt my feelings, crumpling my example as I spoke (ex: If someone walked up to me and said "You like to read? Only nerds like to read!" My feelings might be hurt *crumple that section of the heart* and I might not want to read anymore. Or I would read, but keep it a secret...)
Perhaps the most powerful part was when I asked students to then crumple their own hearts- some students cried out in protest, others simply could not bring themselves to do it! We talked about why it was so hard, and how much words can hurt what we hold dear in our hearts. I walked up to several students and asked them about my heart, and they rushed to compliment or reassure me (without even prompting them!), which helped to "uncrumple" my heart. Students were then invited to walk around and say kind words that would uncrumple each other hearts. They loved this part!
At the very end of the lesson, we felt the softness of the wrinkled construction paper and discussed the term "soft hearted." We discussed how empathy ties into a soft heart, and how we can choose to speak kindness into others' hearts after our own hearts have been crumpled. It was a powerful way to end the year.
For small groups in upper elementary, try completing a compliments mandala! Each group member draws a large circle and divides it into the number of people in the group (including me). Then each person writes their own name and a word that describes them (in case another group member is stuck- they can basically copy or do a slight variation). Pass the circles around, so each member can write their name and a compliment in a section of the mandala. Time given per person depends on the maturity level of students and how detailed you'd like them to be. Students can keep the mandala as a reminder of the group experience.
With individual students, use a modified version of the feelings map. There is a wonderful worksheet on the Social Work Helper blog that you can download for free (check out the site, too)! It's a way to create some closure with students.
For this activity, I ask the student to complete a map that describes me, and I complete one for them. We brainstorm a list of words that could describe others. We write down 6 words that fit the other, then we color the map and discuss the time(s) we have met together. Then we trade the maps and share what we created. Students have the opportunity to remember the time spent together, and especially that they get to hear some of the qualities others see and appreciate in them. It's been a nice little warm fuzzy to wrap up individual sessions.