Discover The Joy Of Giving With This Childhood Classic

Reading with our children is about more than literacy, as important as that skill is.

A favorite book gives us a time to bond with our kids, can spark imagination and creativity, and offers lasting moral lessons.

There’s a reason so many teachers use treasured stories to teach concepts across the curriculum – and now you can do the same with some fun activities based on one of our favorites.

Books are so important in this digital age, offering a break from all the tech devices that many kids use far too long each day.

Reading does not always come naturally and can cause frustration and boredom in early readers.  But if reading is made fun from an early age, kids are much more likely to read for pleasure later on in life.

There are so many classic children’s books that we all treasure, and many of them are beloved because we remember reading them with our own parents.

With fall upon us, one of our favorite classics is Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

This treasured story offers wonderful lessons on giving, gratitude, and friendship – and there are lots of fun activities your kids can do to bring the story alive and reinforce the joy of reading.

“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.” “… and she loved a boy very, very much– even more than she loved herself.”

This wonderful story about an apple tree that gave everything she had to a little boy she loved will tug at your heartstrings, and even after more than fifty years, the life lessons are undeniable.

Some scholars say the book represents our relationship with God, others the unbreakable parent/child bond.

Whatever the author’s intent, the book offers lots of inspiration for discussion after reading this short and sweet treasure.  It’s perfect for a homeschool or when you’re just looking to fill a quiet afternoon!

It’s an ideal read for the 6-10 crowd, but little ones will enjoy the simple illustrations and some fun activities with older siblings.

Some great conversation starters include:

Why do you think the tree kept giving the boy everything he wanted even though he didn’t always appreciate it at the time?  Can you think of a time someone did something nice for you and you didn’t really thank them?  (Importance of gratitude and giving to others without expecting anything in return.)

Why do you think the boy didn’t notice what was happening to the tree as she kept giving him pieces of himself, even as he became an adult?  Why do you think people get caught up in what they are going through and don’t always pay attention to what others need?  (Awareness and accountability.)

Can you think of someone who is like the tree, and someone who is like the boy?  (God providing all our needs, parent/child relationship.)

Make your own Giving Tree!

Younger kids will love helping their siblings with these activities, even if the theme of the story goes over their heads.

Grab a piece of posterboard or large paper and let the kids color or paint a tree trunk.  They can even write their initials on the tree just like the little boy in the story.

Cut out green construction paper leaves (or apples) and write down all the things that your child is thankful for and glue them to the tree.  Or because family is often at the top of the list, the kids can make a family tree of everyone they love and are thankful for.

Or brainstorm some ideas with your child about “good deeds” they may be able to do for friends or family.  Write one on each leaf and have your child pick one each week, month, etc.  Once they finish that one, they can think of a new idea to replace where they removed the leaf.

They can also add leaves when someone does something nice for them, when they help without being asked, the possibilities are endless!

This is a great concrete way to associate giving back and kids will be excited for the next leaf!  This makes a great classroom bulletin board for teachers or homeschool families.

Little ones can fingerpaint leaves onto a piece of paper, make apple prints, or even glue photos of things they love and are thankful for onto a piece of paper for a more basic take on this project.

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How about a warm apple treat to enjoy after the story?

Mom or Dad can help make a batch of crockpot applesauce, some apple muffins, a cobbler, or even just slice some apples to dip in caramel or peanut butter.

Talk about how the tree in the story gave her apples to the boy because she loved him, just as God provides us with fruit trees and other kinds of foods to nourish us because of His love for us.

And to drive home the point of giving, make a large batch and deliver a treat as a surprise for a neighbor.  Or Mom and Dad can make arrangements for the kids to share the book and their treat at a senior citizens’ home or shelter.

The Giving Tree is a wonderful addition to any home library or homeschool and teaches some of the most important values we want to share with our kids – gratitude, giving, and love.

Ask your child what their favorite part of the book is and what they learned from it.  Let them share it with family and friends, and come up with your own creative supplemental activities to reinforce the themes.

“And the boy loved the tree…….very much. And the tree was happy.”

We hope you enjoy sharing this beloved story with your family as much as we do!

Have you read The Giving Tree with your children, or did you read it as a child?  What are some of your creative ideas to enrich the book?  Leave us your comments.