Ms. Sandor is a GSRP Teacher at Fennville Elementary in Michigan who says, “As a teacher for the youngest members of our school family, my goal is to introduce the value of giving and the positive feelings such activities bring.”
After using the Learning to Give lesson A Gift for Others on My Birthday, 16 Pre-K students participated in the service-learning project Happy Birthday to Others. After using the lesson, all the children were invited to decorate tote bags with hand prints and personal art. The phrase "For my birthday, I want to give this gift to you!" was printed on each bag. When one of the children's birthday came about during the year, that student was able to choose who they would like to give their tote bag to.
The Learning to Give mini-grant helped to purchase English and Spanish books, tote bags, fabric paints, blank note cards, fabric and regular markers, and kindness cards. Students were able to exhibit choice by choosing a person in the school that they wished to give their bag give to. Recipients included the Secretary, Janitorial staff, Kitchen staff, and playground Supervisors.
The main impact of a 4-year-old is to help them think about other peoples' feelings. Ms. Sandor said, “I witnessed many more ‘acts of kindness’ in my classroom since presenting the birthday activity.” The students even started saying to others; "It's your birthday, who are you going to pick?" and they got all excited about the opportunity to find out who will be given the tote they made.
By introducing the "Birthday Book," the class opened to conversations about giving to others and about making kind choices and decisions. Ms. Sandor’s class talks every afternoon about acts of kindness, and each child is now able to give an example of something kind they did during that day. For example; "I helped ......open her milk" or “today.........fell on the playground, I helped him get up, he was okay".
Ms. Sandor will continue to use this same activity throughout the remainder of the school year and likely for years to come. She plans to promote kindness by using students’ daily punch cards, another visual that has been working well. Her classes will talk a lot about feelings and emotions and how they can use words instead of physical touch to resolve issues.