Thinking Outside the (Gift) Box: Cultivating Community in the Classroom
The holiday season is palpable in the classroom during this time of year. Joy, excitement, and wonder are felt leading up to winter break as children sense the change in routine. Children are often excited to share the new toys and materials they received as gifts. As educators, it can be a challenge to balance between sharing in their joy and finding ways to make this time of year about something other than materialistic things.
Gifts come in many forms. Some of the best gifts I remember receiving as a child were experiences, such as a day devoted to spending one-on-one time with a relative or a trip to a local museum. These were most memorable because of the feeling they inspired. I felt happy and thankful for special time with someone I cared about. Facilitate a discussion about gifts and the many forms they can take.
Here are some questions to pose to encourage thinking outside of the box:
-How do you feel when you receive a gift?
-What kinds of gifts don’t come in packages?
-How do we know what kinds of gifts people need?
-Is kindness a gift? Why?
-What kind of gift can you bring to our classroom every day with your ideas and actions?
This is a great opportunity to explore social-emotional development. Each child can gift one another positive thinking and actions each day to help everyone feel cared for and respected. Gifts we can offer one another:
Cultivating a culture of giving inspires children to think about others and how their actions impact those around them. This conversation could even inspire a list of positive actions to offer to others. Invite children to choose one a day to focus on and offer to others in their classroom. This is a great opportunity to build these skills:
What other ways can you support empathy, kindness, and care in the classroom?
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