Sharing the Joy of Giving! A Holiday Giving Project

One of the things I miss most about not being in the classroom is the opportunity to teach kids about the joy of giving. I want to share with you a wonderful activity that I did each year with my class, and I hope you’ll consider doing this with your class, too. It does take a bit of coordination, but I’ve created a free packet of materials to help you with the process.

Every year in November I worked with a local agency or our guidance counselor to find  a needy family in the community (not at our school). I tried to find a family with several children who was having a difficult time and who could use our help during the holidays. My students did not know who the family was other than their first names.

I sent home a letter explaining the project, and any of my students who were able to do so would contribute cash and gifts based on that family’s needs. I also asked for donations of wrapping paper, boxes, and bows. You can download the project description and a sample letter from my TpT Store.

Our Holiday Giving Project was so exciting and such a special time! I asked my students to bring in their items a few days before we got out for the holidays so we would have time to wrap them. We started by creating dozens of small cards with the family members’ names to attach to the gifts. My students folded rectangles of white construction paper in half, decorated them, and wrote holiday messages inside.

Then had a gift wrapping party one afternoon during the week before the winter holidays, and I taught them all how to wrap a present with style! You would think that 5th graders would know how to wrap a gift, but I learned the first time I did this project that most had never been taught. Boy did we waste a LOT of wrapping paper that year! After I realized that they didn’t know how to wrap a gift, I taught them what to do. First I showed them how to cut the wrapping paper so that it was just the right size, and then I demonstrated how to fold and tape the paper so it looked attractive. Yes, that’s me in the picture below!

Next, I borrowed a box of crayons for each student from the supply room, and they had to practice wrapping that box until it was perfect! Then each student chose a partner and they teamed up to wrap gifts. They had so much fun!

At the end of the day, we took a class picture of everyone holding the gifts before I loaded them into my car. You can see the joy of giving all over their faces – what a wonderful lesson for students of any age! Every time I look at these pictures my heart just melts because I miss these kids!