I have many hopes from my boys when I think about their futures, but certainly one of the greatest on that mental list is that they have a true spirit of kindness. Kindness is something that has always been important, but I feel like it is so needed in our world right now. The holidays are a specific time when an extra bit of thoughtfulness can really help to brighten a day. I truly believe that acts of kindness are something that even young toddlers can participate in and begin to understand. This holiday season, I’ve been reflecting on the activities we have done in the past and brainstorming new activities my boys can do to help show care for others. There are so many great possibilities for various ages; these are a few of those ways that kids can help to spread kindness this holiday season:
As we start to enter the colder months, many organizations are accepting blanket donations. No-sew fleece blankets are a great way for kids to get involved with contributing to this need. I plan to make some of these with my three year old this holiday season to donate. As we work on tying together he will of course be developing his fine motor skills, but even more importantly, he will be experiencing what an act of kindness means. We will talk together about what the blankets are for and how they might help someone else. Some organizations even have a warehouse where individuals and groups can come and volunteer to help make blankets with materials that they already have. Fleece & Thank You and Project Linus are two local organizations/chapters in Michigan that share blankets with children who are hospitalized, seriously ill, or who have experienced trauma, but there are many similar organizations nationwide.
This activity is a favorite for my boys and it’s a great one for even young toddlers to participate in. I use blank cards or cut and fold blank cards out of cardstock. I add them to a tray along with some holiday stamps, stickers, and Kwik Stix or crayons. My boys really enjoy creating with these materials and choosing who they are making cards for. When I first set it out or when they are working, I remind them of some of the people they could send a card to. I like keeping this tray out on a shelf throughout the holiday season because then they can make a card whenever they choose to. They’re perfect to mail to family, friends, or neighbors to give them an extra smile or there are many retirement communities and organizations for children who are hospitalized that are looking to receive cards. Cardz for Kids and Cards for Hospitalized Kids are two organizations that collect cards for this purpose.
Shopping or searching for toys to donate would be a wonderful tradition to start each holiday season. As the holidays approach, organizations like Toys for Tots and Salvation Army will be accepting toy donations to gift to children in need. I think this act of kindness is one that children of most ages can connect to and understand (at least at a basic level for older toddlers and preschoolers). Kids could shop with parents to pick out toys to donate or go through their toys and games to find gently used ones to pass along.
I always imagine the work of delivery drivers and postal workers to be tiring, but even more so this time of year. During this holiday season, making a care package or basket to leave on the porch for delivery workers is another way that kids can help to spread some kindness and gratitude. Ours will probably include items like water bottles, power bars, snacks, and hand warmer packets. Toddlers and preschoolers can help with simple parts of this activity like moving water bottles and snacks into the basket and opening up variety pack bags of snacks. Older kids could help with choosing and purchasing items for the care basket or writing a note to say thank you.
I love this act of kindness for various ages. There are so many fun treats to be made in the holiday season and many kids love to bake and help bake! Some examples of how my youngest helps with baking at 18 months are: dumping prepared ingredients into a bowl, pressing cookie cutters into dough, and sprinkling decorations on with a small spoon. Older kids could have more independence with this and depending on age, bake the treats themselves! Treats could be shared with family, friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. Kids could also help to organize a holiday bake sale and choose an organization to donate the proceeds to.
This would be a great way for older kids and teens to help spread some seasonal kindness. We have generous neighbors who have shown us this kindness over the years and it always warms my heart and in specific instances has made a day much more manageable. Helping to shovel snow or rake leaves for a neighbor is a great way to model kindness for kids. Age appropriateness for this activity really depends on your child and what they can manage. I know my three year old would love to work along beside me on a project like this with the basic understanding that we were doing something kind for a neighbor. I love this simple and free (as long as you have a shovel/rake) way for kids to learn about spreading kindness and making someone’s day just a little simpler.
These are just a few ideas for how kids can help to spread kindness this holiday season. I love that even at a young age, kids can start to participate in these acts and experience what it means to care for someone else. I have many hopes for my boys’ future and many values and skills that I hope they will develop, but kindness is certainly one of the greatest. Hopefully modeling this for today’s children will help to add more kindness to our world for years to come! Do you plan to do any of these with your kids this holiday season?
My name is Katie Menko, and I’m wife to Justin and mom to Asher and Aiden. We live in Royal Oak, MI where I (try to) balance my time between living life with my boys and being a middle school special education teacher. I am entering my tenth year in teaching and feel blessed to work with students who always inspire me and stretch my thinking. I’m also a Montessori student-turned-parent! I attended Montessori school preschool-6th and want to pass on my love for Montessori-style learning to my sons. I believe education should be hands-on, engaging, and should meet the child or student where they are at.