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The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein can be used to help children learn the joy that is found in giving to others. It is also a fun and easy book to read aloud to any age.
A lesson on giving to others is an essential one to teach our children in this day and age.
The world in which we live says: "Look out for number one!" and "Get all you can; they owe you."
This isn't what Jesus taught. In Acts 20:35, Paul recalls the words of Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Luke also records further teaching by Jesus in Luke 6:38:
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Still another time Paul focuses on our attitude for giving.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says:
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Use The Giving Tree to help children understand the concept that God gives great joy to those that are cheerful givers and that giving is a true act of love.
"Once there was a tree..." the story begins as an apple tree befriends a small boy.
As the boy grows, the tree gives of herself and her resources to make him happy.
She gives her apples so that he will have money, she gives her branches so that he can build a house and have a family, she gives her trunk so that he can build a boat and sail far away. Each time she gives - the tree is happy.
Finally the giving tree is only a stump, but when she is able to be a place for the boy (now an old man) to sit and rest, she is happy once again.
This story easily contrasts the lack of contentment of the boy who is constantly receiving and the contentment of the tree based soley upon her heart to give. It also depicts that giving is a visible action of love.
God's ways are not like man's ways. God says it is better to give than receive. He loves to bless a cheerful giver. When we give to others with a heart of love, it brings us great joy and contentment (that means being truly happy with what you have).
Acts 20:35; Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:7 (all above)
Make a "Giving Tree"
Have children draw a basic tree (or make one ahead of time) and color it.
Give them old magazines, and ask them to cut out pictures of items that could be given to someone else - such as food, clothing, toys,etc.
Let them glue these to their "giving tree." As they do, discuss who they would want to give something to and why.
Remind them of all the wonderful things God gives to us each day.
The Giving Game (played like "Duck, duck, goose")
Bring a small wrapped gift (small enough to fit in children's hands). Have kids sit in a circle with their hands behind their back.
One child can be the "giver." As others close their eyes, the "giver" walks around the outside of the circle and chooses one person's hands to secretly place the gift.
He then begins to run around the circle as the receiver jumps up to chase him. Once the giver is seated in the receiver's place without being caught, the receiver says "thank you!"
Now he becomes the giver and the game continues.
Remind the students how God's Word says in Matthew 6:2-4:
"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
© Copyright 2007 Susan Smart
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