SHARED by: Ms. Wendy, Teacher at Early Learning Foundations Preschool

When you walk into Ms. Wendy’s Three’s Classroom at Early Learning Foundations Preschool, you will notice a large brown paper tree, with dozens of red and pink hearts scattered amongst its branches. This is the classroom’s Giving Tree, a place where the children’s acts of kindness are celebrated and displayed for all to see. Teaching three-year-olds the meaning of “kindness” is no easy feat, but it is possible and after some time it becomes clear the message is being absorbed. 

To introduce the concept of the classroom’s Giving Tree, we read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. This opened up the conversation of explaining the meaning of kindness and the idea of thinking beyond just yourself. For a three-year-old this might mean:

  • Sharing
  • Helping a friend
  • Cleaning up toys
  • Handing someone a tissue if they need it
  • Including another child

Children are encouraged to recognize acts of kindness among their peers and share it with the class. The act of kindness is then written down on a heart and put into the Kindness Box. At the end of each week, we take the box and read through acts of kindness and pin them up to the tree.
The more we talk about it, the more the children become aware of what it means to be kind. It also works in the reverse and children are able to identify when they feel someone is being unkind. We connect what we learn in school to home by giving parents a paper heart for them to fill out and bring back home, which to the child translates that acts of kindness can be done everywhere, not just when you’re at school. The messages on the hearts speak for themselves.