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Volume 1 Issue 4
December 4, 2003


The Many Faces of Thankfulness

WELCOME! to Education World's Early Childhood Newsletter. Each month, I'll share some ideas on a familiar teaching theme. Hopefully you will find a new activity idea or two -- or a new twist on one of your old favorites! Since I know you are very busy, I'll be short and sweet -- like most of activities I suggest.

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The great art of giving consists in this: the gift should cost very little and yet be greatly coveted, so that it may be the more highly appreciated.
-- Baltasar Gracian

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
-- Lao-Tzu (604 BC - 531 BC)

The season has arrived -- the holiday season that turns classrooms (and families) upside down! Just when we think the routines we so carefully establish are firmly set, along comes December. No matter what holidays -- if any -- the students in your care celebrate, they are seldom immune to the frenzy around them. The overwhelming assault of commercialism, travel, decorations, media, guests, celebrations, concerts...can disturb the equilibrium of the most stable child.

At this time of year, teachers can help their students by maintaining the school routine most of the time. Such consistency can contribute to the emotional health of children and can help counteract other forces.

One way teachers can help children keep their feet on the ground (and their heads out of the clouds) is by turning children's attention outward -- toward others. Whether done as part of holiday celebrations or just as part of life, GIVING to others is a habit best learned during childhood. Giving gifts of themselves can keep children's minds on their efforts and the people to whom they will be giving. (And children will be on the receiving end of "thanks," a great reinforcement to November's focus on thankfulness.)

Thank YOU for reading this newsletter. GIVE yourself a break and ENJOY December with your students!

Coming for January: "Beginnings"

Anne Guignon
Editor, Early Childhood Education Newsletter


A GIVING Month! (A Giving Week, A Giving Day)
Designate a "giving month" (week or day) as a time for children to give to others. With your guidance depending on children's age, the class will brainstorm, plan, and carry out giving activities. With follow-up reinforcement activities, academic areas will not be left out of the party.

GIVE a Song
Learn a new song for students to present to their families at home -- or present it to parents and invited guests at school. You may want to make tapes for each family, so children can present it karaoke-style at home. This activity is an opportunity to teach and practice skills such as speaking, performing, inviting, welcoming, and introducing. You might also work in math skills as you plan for a presentation at school: How many guests will be invited? How many will attend? How many tapes will be needed? Will we serve refreshments? How much will we need? How many plates and napkins will we need?

GIVE a Hug
Sometimes less IS more. Hugs say I love you, to close family members. ("...the gift should cost very little and yet be greatly coveted...")
Make cards to give with the hug that say: Here is a present from me -- A HUG!
1. Start with paper in the shape of a triangle, long side along bottom.
2. Fold in the outside corners (hugging arms). Attach a head at the top point.
There's your hug card!

GIVE a "Tasting Table" Party
Otherwise known as potluck. Class members (teachers too!) contribute favorite finger foods. With a focus on "just tasting" children will be more likely to try new things. Invite special people: the principal, secretary, nurse, bus drivers, community helpers...

What other gifts can young children give? They can give their company, money raised, gently-worn and outgrown clothing (coats, boots) and food, prayers, cards, letters, books homemade and commercial, tapes, artwork.
And whom can they give to? They can give to the less fortunate, soldiers, aged, soup kitchens and shelters, children's home, school staff, another class at school, another school...


Holidays on the Net
Find dates, facts about, and activities for Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa (as well as holidays all year long).

Psych Savvy
Children and Holidays: A Holiday Survivor's Guide Parent Handout Suggestions for parents -- and teachers too -- from the Anchorage School District Psychology Department. (Note: This is a pdf file; it might take longer to download than the usual Web page.)

Emergency Medical Services Authority
The emergency medical services provider for more than 1.1 million people in Central and Northeast Oklahoma provides holiday safety tips for parents and teachers.

Two more Web sites will help teachers looking to connect children to the larger world...

Heifer International
Money raised by a class can buy a gift of trees or livestock for a family in a developing country. From chicks and bees to llamas, water buffalo and heifers, the gifts help families become self-supporting. The animals can become subjects of classroom units too!

First Book
First Book is a national nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.

Last updated 11/19/2007