Every week each person in the family gets a turn spinning the wheel to determine which act of service they will work on during the week. All of the options are laminated and put down with velcro so you can change them to new ideas when these ones get old.
The ideas on my wheel are: Do a chore for someone that they hate doing, Tell each person in your family what you admire about them, Pick up someone else’s mess, Help pull weeds in the yard, Call a relative to tell them how much you love them, Make some one’s bed for them every day this week, Cheer someone up when they are feeling down, and Teach someone how to do something you are really good at.
I made it more centered on service within the family, but you could make options that are centered on service outside the family like: Pick up trash in your neighborhood, visit the elderly at a nursing home, etc.
We’ve already had 2 turns spinning the wheel and my boys have really enjoyed it. The first week my oldest got “Pick up someone else’s mess” and he was actually excited to help his brother pick up his toys at bedtime. It definitely made for a better atmosphere at bedtime since there was no complaining happening. My preschooler landed on “Teach someone how to do something you are really good at.” He taught me how to draw a new dinosaur picture every day. I really liked this option because it shows children that they should use their talents to serve others. Even though my son’s drawings are 4yr old drawings, it is something he feels like he is really good at, so it felt wonderful to sit with him and have him show me just how he makes each of his dinosaur’s just right. I landed on “Tell each person in your family what you admire about them.” The most amazing thing happened after I started telling the kids what I admired about them. They in turn started telling me what they admired about me, and about each other. It was pretty sweet, and I think it made everyone feel good about themselves.
I also think incorporating children’s literature is a great idea.
I know this book is a little controversial to some, but I think if it is taught the right way, it is a great book to use for service.
We haven’t actually read this one yet. It’s in our library bag and we haven’t gotten to it yet, but it looks like a really good story.
I decided after reading books on literature that we should make our own Giving Tree.
I trimmed down a sheet of poster board to the size I wanted to use and painted a tree on it with brown paint. Then I printed out leaves on different colored fall paper and cut them all out. I chose to use the Maple leaf because I think it’s pretty and it’s my favorite, but you could use any kind of leaf you want. I also chose to use Fall colors since that is the season we are entering. I think I used 42 leaves.
There are two different ways you can use this service tree. You can start with no leaves on the tree and every time someone in the family completes an act of service, they get to glue or tape on one of the leaves. I opted to use tape so I could re-use the tree and the leaves.
The other option is to start with the tree full of leaves and every time someone completes an act of service they get to remove one of the leaves. The objective being to try to have all the leaves fallen off the tree before Winter starts.
The only reason my leaves look pretty good is because I did it myself to put it on display for my lesson. But realistically with children putting on leaves, it’s not going to look perfect, but as I like to say “Imperfection is Perfection.” I thought this was a great way for children to be able to see what great things can come about by simple means of service.
We also use a tree like this every November as a Thankful Tree. Every day in the month of November each child gets to write on a leaf something they are thankful for and put it up on the tree. At the end of the month it is a beautiful tree displaying what your children are most thankful for this year. You can read about the first year we did ours HERE.
I got lucky that year to find several packets of leaves on clearance at Wal-Mart so I didn’t have to cut them all out individually. I participated with my kids in this and also wrote on a leaf every day.
My kids were so young then and I get a kick out reading some of the things they were thankful for.