by Kerry Cordy
What Is Generosity?
Generosity is a character trait much like kindness or honesty. To be generous means to give with with your whole heart. It is more than just about giving money. It is giving your time, your love, food, resources or simple kindness. Generosity of spirit means giving non material gifts to others such as forgiveness, credit for something accomplished, encouragement, or even a simple hug. Learning to be generous encompasses your whole being. The following generosity lesson plan can be used to earn your Generosity badge or to teach a character building class to promote generosity.
Learning to Share
When we are young, learning to share is the first step in building the character trait of generosity. Even a two year old can understand that there are things in short supply that must be shared. Start by reading a book about sharing that is age appropriate. Some possible choices include:
- The Mine-o-saur by Sudipta Quallen
- The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
- One Winter’s Day by M. Christina Butler
- The Spiffiest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
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Then create a simple two sided chart with one side marked “DO” and the other “DON’T”. On the DO side, brainstorm actions that show generosity and then write the opposite on the DON’T side. For example:
- DO share your toys: DON’T keep all your toys to yourself
- DO share with a smile: DON’T whine or complain when sharing
- DO wait patiently for your turn: DON’T get angry or frustrated if someone is taking too long
- DO share with those in need: DON’T hoard an over abundance for yourself
When you have an over abundance of something, being generous and passing on your extras to others not only helps your life from getting too cluttered, but can also bless theirs. With Christmas rapidly approaching, there are many opportunities to teach generosity. Go through your kitchen cupboards and give away any canned goods or packaged foods that you do not need. Then, have your kids go through their room and make a pile of any clothes or toys that they no longer use. Donate them to a local charity such as Salvation Army or Good Will. As an alternative, you could introduce the concept of “get one, give one.” When you get something new, give something away.
Sharing when you have an over abundance of something is not limited to physical items. Teach kids that if they have an abundance of time, that they can be generous by giving that time to others. Spend time with a grandparent and let them tell you stories of their youth. Maybe mom needs some help setting the table or a younger sibling wants to play a board game. Taking time out of your day to help others shows generosity of spirit.
Generosity Scavenger Hunt
Go on a generosity scavenger hunt. How many ways can you spot someone being generous? You might see someone return a shopping cart or loaning someone a pen. Maybe you spot someone sharing their lunch or giving someone a much needed hug. Keep track of the numerous ways you see generosity in your day to day life. Divide what you see in to physical acts of generosity such as sharing a lunch or donating money and spiritual acts of generosity such as giving someone a compliment or the gift of their time. If you are teaching a class on generosity, brainstorm with the kids about ways they have seen people be generous on the last week.
As an alternative you can go on a scavenger hunt where you deliberately look for ways to BE generous. How many items can you check off in day. A simple list might include things like:
- Give someone a compliment
- Share something with someone else
- Donate money to a good cause or someone in need
- Spend time with someone who needs your company
- Send a card or nice note to someone
- Let someone go in front of you in line
- Do a chore for someone that you would not normally do such as set the table for your mom or put your sisters toys away.
- Donate something you no longer need to a local charity
- Spend time teaching someone something such as the rules to a game, how to use a computer program, or help with their homework
- Put a shopping cart away for someone
- Hold a door open for someone
Show your generosity by creating special bags to give away to those in need. You might make bags with fuzzy socks and small toys to bring to kids in a children’s hospital; bags with toiletries for a local women’s rescue or or bags with postcards and stamps to donate to nursing homes so they an write their loved ones.
The Quiltmaker’s Gift
Read The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau. Discuss all the ways generosity is shown in the story. Then discuss your own talents and gifts and the ways they may be shared with others. Print off quilt patterns and color them to remind you of your talents. You can print a free quilt coloring book from AllPeopleQuilt.com. If you are working on the tis badge with a large group, cut 8″ x 8″ pieces of paper and have each person design a quilt square that represents them. Then gather all the blocks and display them together somewhere as a generosity quilt.
Now put what you learned into action. Choose a specific talent of yours an share it with others. If you are great at basketball, teach someone how to improve and offer them encouragement. If you are an artist, draw someone a picture to brighten their day.
Giving money is one of the first things people think of when they think of generosity. Decorate a jar with a sign that says “Giving Jar” and place it somewhere you will see it often. Have everyone drop loose change in the jar until it is full. Then vote on who to give the money to. You many choose to donate it to a local charity, or spend it to purchase something for someone in need. Or you many choose to spend it to take someone special out for a meal to show them how much they are appreciated. If you children receive an allowance, asking them to set aside 10% to put in the giving jar is a great way to teach them to be generous consistently.
Scientists have found that generosity actually benefits our physical and mental health. It can reduce stress, enhance your sense of purpose, fight depression and even increase your lifespan. Each day presents hundreds of opportunities to be generous to others. By making generosity part of your daily life you will do both yourself and others a word of good