Season of Giving Lessons

Great ideas for teaching your class about the importance of giving and expressing gratitude.

By Andrea Ferrero

season of giving

The holiday season is in full swing, and children across the country are bursting with energy. The fact that December is so full of warmth and cheer presents a unique opportunity for students to explore the idea of giving. Bringing to life the old adage: "tis better to give than to receive" makes the holidays memorable and empowers kids to want to make a difference. 

There are many ways to inspire and engage students in the act of giving. My personal favorites are found below.

Organize a winter event for fundraising

My class' favorite holiday fundraiser was a teddy bear run. The students created posters sharing the need for teddy bears for children at our local hospital. They decorated collection boxes which were put up in the school and local businesses. Used teddy bears were taken home to be washed and given a new luster. Then, students tied on a personalized tag to each bear before delivery. 

Create gifts for a local community organization or family members

My students always loved gift-making centers set up around the room. They could make simple crafts such as key chains, picture frames, jewelry, vases, ornaments, bookmarks, and more. I always gave my students the option to make gifts for family, and an extra to put in our class donation bin which I later took to the local hospital adult care wing along with cards. 

Have students write and share stories with younger students

There is something magical in being a mentor and that fact is not lost on kids. I have tried many variations to this project including creating personal holiday fables, comics, and short stories. No matter what the writing genre, students enjoyed reading the stories to kindergartners and hearing about their holiday traditions and wishes. 

Go caroling and visit other classes, senior centers, or locations in the community

Sharing music is a fun way to get out and celebrate with students. I always tried to include a silly holiday song as well as traditional holiday favorites. For shy students, and musically challenged teachers, recorded music works great. 

Create a list of ways to give back at home and in the community

I often did this activity right before break. With students excited and eager to get presents, they often begin to forget to give back to all those around them. I have had students create journal entries and do share aloud lists of the things they could do to help and give back during the holiday season. Kids have come up with ideas ranging from helping around the house to donating old toys. 

Holiday Giving Lessons: 

Bright Holiday Ornaments 

Students create unique ornaments representing their research of holiday cultures around the world. All the materials used are recycled resources. 

Making the Holidays Special 

After examining holiday specials for their themes and morals, students create their own holiday special. This group activity gives students the chance to select a winter holiday and share the messages they think are most important. 

Makes Cents to Me: Penny Drive

Students explore the concept of donation, researching the need for fundraising to provide resources for organizations. They then discuss what organizations they would like to help and organize a penny drive.