6 Ways Your Students Can Give Back During The Holidays

6 Ways Your Students Can Give Back During The Holidays

Posted by By Allison Moore on Nov 30th 2022

The holidays are a great time to model kindness to our children by giving back to our community. There are many ways to get kids interested in helping others while also teaching the value of empathy and compassion. Another benefit to giving back is that you can incorporate math-themed lessons and help your kids strengthen their social skills while practicing acts of kindness, too, because learning is everywhere!

Check out these six easy ways to teach children how they can give back during the holidays:

Donate to a local charity

When my family recently switched our closets from summer to fall/winter, we bagged up our outgrown, unwanted items and donated them to a local winter clothing drive. Get your students involved by letting them decide what items they would like to donate. You can even set a goal for how many total items you would like to donate to your charity of choice.

Teaching Moment: To make this a fun learning activity, have your students separate items by category (sweaters, shorts, hats, etc.) and count how many of each item are going to be donated. Help them understand that organization is key!

Volunteer at a local soup kitchen

Everything that’s needed for the meals is already at the soup kitchen—except for the folks who do the work! Take the kids with you. Older kids can help serve, while youngsters can make sure that everyone has napkins and silverware.

Teaching Moment: To make this a meaningful social skills activity, encourage your students to have friendly (yet safe) conversations with the other workers and/or patrons of the kitchen. Social interaction with those from different backgrounds can help build tolerance and compassion.

Pack a shoebox full of holiday giftables for other students

There are many holiday shoebox programs that send gifts to children all over the world. Grab some shoeboxes, and have your students go shopping! Remember, these are kids, so it can be as easy as shopping at the dollar store, for those on a budget. You may want to break it up so students can pick the same genders and age ranges that they are so that they can positively influence what gets gifted.

Teaching Moment: For an easy way to incorporate social-emotional learning, have your kids explain to you why they chose the particular items they did. Explain that as these boxes could end up anywhere around the world, it is important to make sure that the contents are meaningful and have purpose.

Choose an Angel Tree child

On a local level, many Salvation Armies around the country organize an Angel Tree program to provide Christmas gifts for children whose parent(s) are in prison. Find a local Angel Tree, choose a child to sponsor, and then shop for items from their Christmas wish list.

Teaching Moment: To make this an educational opportunity, give your students a budget and ask them to find a specific amount of items on the sponsored Christmas list that would keep to that budget.

Stock a local food pantry

The holidays can be a hard time for some families. Help keep your local food pantry stocked by donating canned goods and non-perishable items. Consider challenging your children to spend their allowances on items to donate.

Teaching Moment: For an additional learning experience, you can help your students understand more about the nutritional benefits of each item—which are carbs, proteins, sugars, etc., as well as serving sizes.

Bring it full circle by rewarding your students for giving back

Gifts don’t have to break the budget— reward your students with free reward tags and free incentive worksheets for all their hard work and selflessness this holiday season. Create fun gifts for students using free printable worksheets like stickers, bookmarks, certificates, and more. Not only are rewards an excellent motivator for students to keep up the good work, but positive reinforcement is a great way to let students know they are seen and recognized for not just poor behavior, but good behavior, too!

Teaching Moment: Enhance your students’ social skills by having them reward one another for their hard work. You can have them pick a partner (or choose them at random), and have them think up a fun reward for their partner with reasons why they chose what they did.

Teaching students to give back is a great way also teaches them compassion, selflessness, and how to share. Giving back during the holidays makes it so much more meaningful, not just to your class, but to those you are helping as well. Enjoy this season of giving, and happy holidays!

Allison Moore is a kindergarten and first grade teacher from North Carolina.