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It all started with a white kitchen-sized trash bag.
About a week earlier, I had had enough. There were too many toys. There was no place to put them all and the idea of significantly adding to their volume at the end of December was completely unacceptable.
We needed to do a toy purge.
However, this time I didn’t wait until my daughter was asleep in order to pick through the toys and haul a few boxes off to Goodwill. I decided that this time, she was ready. She was ready to learn about how to have a giving heart.
So, after she woke up from her nap, I quietly sat on the edge of her bed and explained that some kids didn’t have many toys. We talked about how she could choose to be generous and give some of her toys to other kids. We chatted about Christmas and how giving was part of the Christmas spirit.
And then I handed her a white kitchen-sized trash bag.
We went downstairs to the playroom and I instructed her to look around at her toys and see if there were any that she would be ok with giving to someone else. Twenty minutes later she had filled up more than two trash bags full of toys.
My heart swelled big with oozy gooey warmth. She got it. Even if it was just for a moment, my 4-year old understood that kindness begins with a giving heart.
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Why a Sparkle Jar or Box Can Cultivate a Giving Heart in Your Kids
Of course, there are many ways to cultivate a giving heart. Once we read The Sparkle Box, I knew exactly what we had to do.
So, we created our own sparkle box (ours is a sparkle jar) and have come up with our own ideas for ways to give to others this holiday season.
- Bake cookies and deliver them to the fire station.
- Send someone a handmade card.
- Help Mommy set the table for dinner.
- Play fetch with the puppy.
- Let your friend take her turn first.
- Give your teacher a hug and say thank you.
- Hide an ‘I Love You’ note for Daddy in his work bag.
The ideas are limitless really. We kept it simple since my daughter is only 4 years old. We also modified the concept of the Sparkle Box. In the book, the box sits on the mantle and as the little boy does nice and generous acts of kindness, his parents put slips of paper in the Sparkle Box so that on Christmas Day they can open the box and be reminded of all the ways they made someone else happy.
We just began with the Sparkle Jar and brainstormed kindness ideas we plan to implement over the next few weeks. Then we wrote those ideas down on paper and stuck them in the jar as a kindness down-payment of sorts.
It is super easy to make your own Sparkle Box or Sparkle Jar. Here is how we made ours:
- Small container. We used recycled Folgers coffee cans. It helped that they were red and green (festive!)– clean the container out first if it is recycled!
- Red or green acrylic paint (optional)
- Craft glue
- Red, green, and silver craft jewels
- paintbrushes (optional)
- Slips of paper
How to Make the Sparkle Jar
- Optional first step: Paint the box or jar red or green if it isn’t already red or green. I used acrylic paint and that worked well. If you happen to also use the Folger’s jars, it is not necessary to paint.
- Let the paint dry.
- Apply a thin layer of craft glue to one section of the jar. Have your child choose craft jewels to stick in the glue. You should only do one section at a time so that the jewels don’t fall of the jar before the glue has a chance to set.
- Tip: a fast way to get the glue to set is to use a handheld hairdryer. Be careful if you use the high heat setting. The warm setting is probably fine. The glue will set within 1-2 minutes and then you can move onto the next section.
- Repeat the process until the jar is covered in jewels.
Write your kindness ideas on slips of paper and put them in the jar/box/tray– whatever you use.
Then, as the holiday season unravels, you can unwrap this gift of kindness and cultivate a giving heart in yourself and your kids!
Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!
Did you like this activity? Would you like more ideas? Check out 10 Days of Christ-Focused Christmas Activities Inspired by Books!
We have all sorts of fun activities, recipes and family fun that are inspired by a Children’s Christmas book that share the real meaning of Christmas! Make sure to follow along, you can take a look at the schedule over at Inspired by Familia blog. Here are our fabulous bloggers: Inspired by Family, Meaningful Mama, Teaching Mama, Beautiful Messy Motherhood, Happy Home Fairy, Simple home Blessings, The Chaos and the Clutter, Creative Family Fun, True Aim Education and Sunshine Whispers!