The Giving Project


So, did you survive Halloween? ¬†I personally really enjoyed the fact that it was on a Friday this year. ūüôā

Now that Halloween is over, I’ve started thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holidays in general. ¬†It’s always such an exciting time of year for the kiddos! ¬†Unfortunately, I think it’s all too easy for kids to become too focused on the “gifts” part of the holidays. ¬†The media and advertising play a big role in this. ¬†BUT I do think we, as teachers and parents, can definitely do something about it!¬†

I think it’s important to teach kids about all the ways that people can give to one another. ¬†Giving doesn’t have to involve gifts – giving can include helping people in intangible ways, using kind words with others, etc. ¬†I recently finished a mini-unit that focuses on just that – teaching kids the many ways that people can give to each other. ¬†Read on for some ideas and books about teaching kids how to give, and for more details on the unit!

The unit starts by having kids discuss their prior knowledge about giving (which likely includes giving gifts). ¬†You’ll make a class chart and/or give students a drawing/writing task to see what students believe about what it means to give (at the end of the unit you’ll give the same assignment to see how the kids have grown!).

Then, you’ll use readalouds and writing activities to open kids’ eyes to¬†all of the ways that people give to each other. ¬†You definitely won’t need all of these books for the unit, but here are some of the options that you can choose from:

Books About Giving Tangible Items:
The Mitten Tree (Candace Christiansen)
My Most Favorite Thing (Nicola Moon)
The Elves and the Shoemaker (Jim Lamarche)

Books About Giving Help:
Frog and Toad All Year¬†– “The Surprise” (Arnold Lobel)
The Berenstain Bears Lend a Helping Hand (Stan Berenstain)
My Friend is Sad (An Elephant and Piggie Book) (Mo Willems)
When You Are Happy (Eileen Spinelli)
The Lion & the Mouse (Jerry Pinkney)
A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Philip C. Stead)

Books About Giving Kind Words:
One (Kathryn Otoshi)
Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes)
Ish (Creatrilogy) (Peter Reynolds)

Books About Helping the Community:
Boxes for Katje (Candace Fleming)
Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen (DyAnne Disalvo-Ryan)
City Green (DyAnne Disalvo-Ryan)
A Castle on Viola Street (DyAnne Disalvo-Ryan)

In addition to the reading and writing activities, the kids will practice giving to their friends and families through a few different activities. ¬†They’ll make a “helping chain” with ideas about how they can help others:


They’ll also make a coupon book for their families (with ways that they can help out around the house):

After these and a few other activities, they will (with your guidance!) plan and implement a very simple community service project.

By the end of the unit, the kids should have a more complex and complete understanding of what it means to give to others.  

The lessons are great for teaching around Thanksgiving, Christmas, winter holidays, Valentine’s Day – or any time at all! ¬†The unit also includes supplementary literacy materials like a poem, student reader, and reading passage. ¬†Click on the image below to find out more:

Happy teaching!


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7 years ago

These are wonderful ideas. I read “The Mitten Tree” every year to my students, just before our school conducts a new shoe drive for kids in need in our area. I love the idea of expanding this into a larger unit. Thank you!


I‚Äôm Alison, a literacy specialist. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing ‚Äď and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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