The Brain Fit Super Power of the Month: Generosity

By Natalie Hunniford (Educator, Counsellor, author of the Brain Fit Tool Kit and creator of The Brain Fit Super Powers school program)

I am someone who has worked in the school system for the last 20 years as a teacher, counsellor, and parent and I am very aware that December is a month full of fun and chaos! When I chose generosity as the Super Power for this month, I was thinking as a teacher, counsellor, and as a mom. I know that many kids can get lost in the “asking for” and “receiving” at Christmas and can forget that the most important part of the holiday is the giving. I also know that teachers are juggling wrapping up units, report cards, Christmas concerts, holiday art and crafts, and all the other excitement that comes with the season. The good news is that December is a short month in our schools and for that reason there is only one lesson plan for this month, and I call it “Operation Give Back.”

I see the holidays as a wonderful time of year to ask our kids to imagine a better world, to stretch their creative minds to find new ways to give back in their communities, and then to create opportunities for them to put those plans into action. For those teachers using the Brain Fit Super Powers program this month, the goal is brainstorm with unlimited imagination and then to choose at least one initiative that is all about giving back to the community.

Here are a few ideas that I’ve seen in schools that might work for you in your classroom this month:

1. Organize a visit to a local elderly care home or hospital. Your class can bring joy to these places with a visit this time of year. You could have your class prepare by creating festive decorations that they can bring and hang around the facility. They can also perform by singing, playing instruments, or reading with them. This is such a great way to remind students that they are a part of a greater community and how important it is to help and care for each other.

2. Make meals or organize a Christmas meal box for a local family who could use some extra support this time of year. Be sure to make sure that you are not asking some students to bring something that their family may not be able to contribute. This can be a difficult time of year for many families, even some that you may not be aware of.

3. Host a holiday meal for local families and bring the community together. By making it a potluck lunch, it will make it easier for teachers and will help create a sense of contribution and belonging for everyone. Ask families to bring their own plates and cutlery as well to make set up and planning easy, while also making the event more environmentally friendly.

4. Sell cookies for coins. This is a fun way to raise money for the local food bank or other local charities. Ask students to bring or bake cookies that can be sold at lunch or recess for coins, such as quarters.

5. Make holiday cards for the food bank. Contact your local food bank and ask them if they would like any Christmas cards to go with their food baskets.

6. Host a classroom or school toy drive. If it is financially possible, ask students to go shopping with their parents and pick out something at a price point of about $20 that they would love to receive for Christmas. Having them pick out something that they would love makes the giving more meaningful and personal. As a class or school you can also make your own toy mountain and then make a delivery!

7. Introduce “Chores for Change.” Ask your students to do some chores at home or in the community to make some change that can be collected as a class and donated to a local charity or food bank.

8. Hold a “Jingle Bell” walk through your school neighbourhood collecting money and food donations.

(For more ideas about how to engage students’ imaginations by tapping into their sense of agency click here.)

By using visualization and our creative powers, there are so many ways that we can help each other and our community throughout the holidays. These are just a few suggestions, but I know when we allow kids to think of the possible, they generate new and amazing ways to make a difference and help those in need this time of year. If you would like to share your class ideas, I have also created the “Brain Fit Super Powers” Facebook page as a platform for teachers to share with each other. Happy holidays and happy giving!

Interested in Reading More?

If you enjoyed reading December’s Brain Fit Super Power, you will love the post Natalie did last month on The Brain Fit Super Power of the Month: Empathy. Head on over!

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