The children and I kicked off December with a daily "Random Act of Kindness." For the fifteen days before our holiday break, the children and I committed to doing something kind for a range of unsuspecting people and animals. I decided on these specific actions with the developmental range of the children in mind in hopes that the children would be able to see a direct correlation between their kind actions and the effect they had on others.
We began the month by simply giving each other hugs.
The next day we gave each other compliments and talked about how important it is to use kind words when we talk to our friends, family, and others around us.
Our third act of kindness was to make a sign to thank our sanitation workers. Throughout the year, the children get excited to see the big green and yellow sanitation trucks come trundling through the neighborhood and make crashing, banging noises as the trucks accept waste from the bins. The children and I worked together to create a colorful (and recyclable) sign, and they were proud of their work. Even more wonderful was the worker's reaction to the sign.
During the first round of sanitation pickup, the children were outside, and when the workers saw the kids' sign, they drove by extra slowly, waving and smiling at the children. The workers who saw the sign during the second round of trash pickup not only smiled and waved, but kindly took a moment to bring the empty bins up the driveway. Clearly, one act of kindness leads to others, and it was a wonderful lesson that left the children exceedingly happy.
One of our next acts of kindness involved creating cards for military personnel. The children glued doves, holly leaves, and pre-typed messages onto construction paper, then added their handprint as a personal touch. When they were completed, I collected the cards to send to Operation Gratitude. You can read about Operation Gratitude here.
Our letters read:
You stepped forward when other stepped back. i am so thankful for your bravery.
You are taking care of our country so I have a good future.
Thank you for your service,
In the midst of our Kindness activities, we got a heavy, wet snowfall perfect for making snowmen... and snow horses! The children loved to clamber up on top of the horse and pretend it was galloping off to lands unknown... sometimes all together!
Rolling snowballs was a wonderful way for the children to test their strength and have fun while building gross motor skills.
The children loved assembling small "Holiday Hug" packages to bring home and share with a neighbor or friend. The packages included small cards with a poem about spreading kindness during the holidays (which the children glued together themselves) along with some candy "Hugs." This action presented us with a wonderful opportunity to practice our counting skills because we put eight candies in each bag. The children did a fantastic job counting out loud as they added the candies.
We wanted to make sure that our kindness was spread within our families as well, so I took the time to sit with each child and talk to them about what they loved about their parents and grandparents. Some answers were fanciful, but all were very, very sweet, and I sealed the letters with a smile and the knowledge that those words (and the pictures on the back) came right from each of the children's hearts.
Through the course of our Random Acts of Kindness campaign, we collected toys, cold weather gear, and food for community members in need. Donations were made to A Safe Place and the Wauconda/Island Lake Food Pantry, and though it was tough to let some of the toys go, it was exciting for the children to see the piles of donations get bigger and bigger.
One of our final acts of kindness was to bake cookies to share. The children love to cook together, and it was my pleasure to help them through the recipe they selected. They chose lovely "Black and White" cookies that had chocolate and vanilla. They were delicious!
To read the complete list of our Random Acts of Kindness, click here.
In between our acts of kindness, the children worked steadily at making special holiday ornaments to bring home and share with their families. Their fine motor skills were tested as they handled strings of yarn, beads, and tiny pom-poms.
The children also made ornaments from cinnamon and applesauce. These two simple ingredients combined to make a dough of sorts, and the children picked from a range of cookie cutters to make ornaments of varying shapes. We discussed the color, texture, and the warm, pleasant smell of the dough. Once cut and on a cookie sheet, the ornaments dried in a low oven, and the cinnamon made the whole house smell amazing! The children kept asking me what the wonderful smell was. Amazingly, the combination of these two ingredients will last year after year.
To finish off their ornaments, the children added sparkles to their ornaments by painting a mixture of glue and glitter. I helped just a little with the paint on the gingerbread men, but the children did all the rest.
After weeks of preparation, the children were very, very proud to give their parents the gifts they had been working on so diligently. Here is a peek at what was inside one of the bags. The ornaments might have been small, but the love with which they were prepared has no bounds.