Thanksgiving lessons in kindergarten are about the fundamentals: thanks and giving. This year, we made our own version of The Giving Tree.
Each child got a tag with his or her picture on it, which were then hung on a tree in our room. Once all the tags were hanging from the tree, I put a blindfold on each student one by one and had them pick a tag. The tag indicated who the person was that they would spend the week making gifts for during center time.
I explain the concept of giving by referring to another concept my students already understand: The Golden Rule. We give to others because we would want others to give to us. This is an especially helpful explanation when a student picks a student they don’t necessarily want, or doesn’t get the person they really do want.
I set up a center that includes plenty of cheap arts and crafts supplies, including construction paper, cards, envelopes, markers, paint, glitter, sequins, beads, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, foam, pom-poms, and Play-Doh.
There were no rules or instructions. The kids are allowed to make each other whatever they want. This shows them that giving can be fun and that when they put some thought into what they are going to give, it is more meaningful for the recipient.
Throughout the week, they also gave each other compliments and small tokens they find on their own, such as rocks or leaves.
When we receive something, it is customary and polite to say “Thank you.” Why? Because recognizing and acknowledging acts of kindness is another way of giving. That’s why we use the terms “giving thanks” and “thanks giving.”
In order to see how giving is a cycle — that when we recognize it and give back by way of thanks, we cause new seeds of giving to grow — my students hang a new tag from the tree every time they receive a gift.
And that is it: a simple lesson to explain a basic concept. It cost me nothing, because I used materials I had on hand — proof that giving doesn’t equal spending money. It’s the thought that counts — really!