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Help Students Think About Giving Instead of Getting

Read about fantastic ideas from real teachers about what they do in their classrooms to spread the message of giving not getting during the holiday season from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

During one of our weekly #2ndaryELA Twitter chats we discussed how to help students think beyond themselves during this holiday season. Teachers shared their fantastic ideas about what they do in their classrooms to spread the message of giving not getting. Read the discussion below to find some great ideas that you can use with your classes. Please add to this conversation in the comments below about what things you do in your classroom or school to add to this message.

Q1: How do you get students to think about others during this month? Lessons? Videos?

  • I’ve never done it, but LOVE the idea of a random acts of kindness project
  • I try to read a lot of non-fiction in the class and when I teach Math I use lots of statistics from social service agencies
  • I try to infuse service as in “everyone has a gift to share” 
  • Non-fiction articles as whole-class reading about why it is better to give than get.
  • We do OWL cards (Outstanding Awesome Learner) for kids who exhibit great character traits like friendship
  • They get to eat lunch with teachers once a week if they get one. The cafeteria is a donkey show, so they like to get out
  • I can’t take credit, but our 10th grade is starting a unit where they focus on charity and create a Project4Awesome video
  • We have also tried to get students thinking via service projects


Q2: What short stories, poems, novels, nonfiction texts would you recommend to get students thinking about giving not getting?

  • I usually read The Scarlet Ibis this time of year with students. It gets students to think about how they treat others
  • I love The Giving Tree!
  • I love that this article focuses on our students’ generation in a positive way! 
  • I love the idea of using “picture books” with older kids @pernilleripp has great ideas on her blog for that. 
  • Older students really like picture books – you can hear a pin drop when I read them out loud


Q3: Have you done any volunteering or service projects with students in the past? Share your experiences. 

  • Done food drives where students can get a dance ticket in exchange for canned good Fun for students & helpful for needy
  • I carol at nursing homes with a theater troupe. Not “school” exactly, but lots of kids!
  • Warm clothing drive, food drive, household items drive, my school is now doing an animal shelter drive
  • My best and favorite service has been to create relationships with “Grandfriends” at the local Assisted Living
  • What started as caroling turned into crafts, interviews, BINGO, luncheons, contest judging and even a 100th Birthday party!
  • That’s awesome! I bet both the kids and the old folks love the mutual attention they get from each other


Q4: Are there volunteer opportunities or service projects you’d like to try with your students? What is holding you back? 

  • I would love to get my students more involved with senior’s homes near the school.
  • Goal = Get students more directly involved, i.e. serve dinner for elderly. Can be tough to get students to participate outside of school
  • I’d love to look into pen pal programs, peer writing tutoring, and starting a TEDx club!
  • I like the idea of peer tutoring. Can’t forget students helping students


Q5: Share some resources for helping students think beyond themselves during the season of giving (e.g. blog posts, Pinterest) 

Additional Christmas Resources

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