As soon as December
arrived, the Christmas activity planning went into full swing. Everyone is in
full holiday mode—scheduling parties, programs, luncheons, etc. Many are also looking for opportunities to
give and spread joy during the season.
One of the first phone
calls I received regarding Christmas activities was from a large corporation in
our town who does an annual philanthropy project. The majority of employees
from this company take money from their paychecks each month to put toward the
charitable cause chosen for the year. For the past two years, their project has
been to buy gifts for every student in self-contained special education
classrooms in our county. That’s six classrooms! And it doesn’t stop there. They
spend approximately $100 on each student, buying them things they need, as well
as things they want.
What’s really special
about this group is that they not only bring the gifts; they also bring pizza,
drinks and all the snack trimmings for a Christmas party. The gifts and party
are great, but the best part is the employees spend almost two hours getting to
know the students, laughing with them and taking tons of pictures. The students
The second Christmas
blessing our class received was a holiday carnival hosted by our school’s Student
Council club. They planned five stations for the students to move through in
groups; club members facilitated each station and interacted with my students
continuously. Students could create art, decorate cookies, sing and dance, play
games and read books. The event was so well-planned, and my students had an
As is evident, my class
has received a great deal of Christmas giving this year. As a teacher, I felt
it was my responsibility to teach my students that receiving is great, but
being the giver is even better. So, we decided to take on a little Christmas
giving project of our own. My class “adopted” a child from the local child abuse
prevention center. This entailed picking up a Christmas list for a child,
purchasing the needed and wanted items from the list, wrapping the gifts and
returning them to the center by a certain date.
We took time to discuss
the project and made a shopping list as a class for our five-year-old boy (my
students called him Little Boy the entire time since we didn’t have his actual
name). I read his list to the class, and then had them decide what things he
might need and like. They did an excellent job planning it out!
We also sent home a
note to parents about the project; many sent in wrapping paper, money and items
from the little boy’s list. The students went shopping in small groups over
three days to gather all the items on the list. They also made gift tags and
wrapped the presents. It was so encouraging to hear my students ask me first
thing the morning after the presents were due back to the center if I had dropped
off Little Boy’s gifts.
In addition to our
giving project, my students made gifts as a way of showing appreciation for the
gifts we received. They made Christmas
tree door hangers for the employees who hosted the class party and brought
gifts. The hangers are complete with hand-decorated ornaments, handmade paper
chains, wrapping paper and shiny bows. We are also working on a poster-board
stocking for the Student Council, which will have each student’s signature and
a big “thank you” written on it.
This Christmas, my
students have taught me a lesson. The enthusiasm they have shown in preparing
gifts for others this Christmas season has reminded me of the true reason for
the season: giving sacrificially and joyfully without expecting anything in
return. What would I do without my 14 little teachers?!
I would love to hear
how your class plans to celebrate the holidays. What fun events do you
participate in? How do you teach your students about giving?