All parents want their children to grow up to be happy, contributing members of society. We want them to be kind and helpful and to do their part to help others and make the world a better place. Kids are the future, right?
In the day-to-day chaos of parenting, it can be daunting to think about teaching heavy topics like service and charity to little ones who are more concerned with new Bluey episodes and making messes. Still, it’s our job to find ways to teach our youth.
This list of service projects for kids will break down several ideas that you can easily accomplish with your little ones. They will provide great conversation points to help you talk naturally with your kiddos about giving. Plus, they can be a lot of fun, too!
Read More: Raising Kids With an Attitude of Gratitude
Send Words of Love
Let’s kick off this list of service projects for kids with an easy one! This is a simple project you can do on a rainy day or any time you are wanting an indoor activity.
Help your child think of those who could use some cheer. Maybe you have elderly neighbors or a sick relative. Maybe you have connections with a veterans’ support group or a nursing home. Help your child understand that some of these people might feel lonely, but that even young ones can make them feel good. (If you need help figuring out who to write, check out Send a Smile Today and the Angel Project).
All you need is some paper and art supplies. Grab crayons, markers, colored pencils, funky paper, and maybe silly items like googly eyes, stickers, and glitter glue. If your child can write, help him or her spell out a simple message, like one of these:
- I hope you have a good day!
- I love you!
- Our family is thinking of you.
- Be happy!
If your child is too young to write, you can handle the words while they handle the art! Then, if your schedule and circumstances allow, take your child to personally deliver the cards to those you talked about. If that is not possible, show your child how to address and seal an envelope and add a stamp. Take them to the mailbox and let them drop in their special creations!
This project not only teaches kindness and positivity but also helps children work on writing and spelling. It’s also a great creative outlet and can be done with children of any age. There’s also no need to limit the number of people for craft service projects like this – invite your friend’s children or your local youth group to come over and participate! The more the merrier!
This one might seem like a challenge at first. How can you get your kids to clean up litter when they can’t clean up their toys? Never fear – this list of service projects for kids is here to offer guidance!
First, talk to your child about your community. Visit your favorite parks and waterways. Point out plants and animals in your neighborhood. Tell your child that we all need to do our part to take care of our planet so that everyone can enjoy it for a long time to come.
Pack up supplies for cleaning up litter. Bring gloves and trash bags. Make sure everyone has water bottles and is wearing clothes that can get dirty. Take your child to a favorite spot that needs a little cleanup, and pick up all the trash that you find (make sure to handle any dangerous or unsanitary pieces yourself). Afterward, reward your child with some time on the playground, or maybe a fun activity like a bike ride!
Make this a long-term habit by picking up a few pieces of trash each time you visit the park! Or, set a five-minute timer and see how much you can pick up in that amount of time! You can also join others in large clean-up projects in your local area. No matter how you do it, your kids will love making this activity a game, spending time outdoors, and learning about the environment!
Read More: Reducing Waste: Simple Practices to Teach Kids Today
Bake it ‘Till You Make It
Nothing says appreciation more than baked goods. Help your children identify those who do a lot to keep them safe, healthy, and learning. Think of teachers, first responders, nurses, babysitters, and others who are part of the village it takes to raise kids.
First, work with your child to choose a treat that you can make together. This could be as simple as a trip to your own pantry or making a special outing to your local supermarket. The extravagance of the treat doesn’t matter – just pick something that fits your budget, skill level, and time (no-bake desserts like Betty Crocker Cookie Dough Bites are easy and delicious). Once you have selected your treat, have your little one help as much as possible. For toddlers, they may only be able to stir a mix; for older children, help them read through instructions, measure ingredients, etc.
From here, choose a time to deliver your treats in person to the people on your list. Express your gratitude for their work, and help your child do the same.
This project is a great way to teach thankfulness, but it’s also a positive learning experience in the kitchen! Plus, you can always stash away a yummy piece for yourself and your little one – you worked hard and deserve a treat, too!
Give Good Gifts
Buying presents for holidays and birthdays can sometimes feel overwhelming. Still, it’s a good opportunity to help your children become aware of those around them.
When a birthday is approaching, talk with your child about the person you are celebrating. Discuss why you both love this person and what he or she likes and dislikes. Then, take your child to the store to let them pick out a gift for this individual, keeping this person’s personality at the forefront of the conversation. Help your kiddo choose an item that fits the budget and shows love to the birthday boy or girl.
Please note that this exercise is not about the amount of money involved! You can use this approach whether your budget is $1 or $100. This project is designed to teach a little one to think outside of him- or her-self while also learning about money and budgeting. In fact, if you have older children who are earning an allowance, you can encourage them to use their own money to purchase gifts and help them find joy in spending money on others.
Read More: 5 Easy Ways to Encourage Positive Attitudes in Kids
Make Money and Give it Away
Here’s another great idea that not only teaches charity but also highlights the value of hard work and earning money.
First, work with your child to identify a cause your family cares about. It could be shelter animals, children’s hospitals, etc. Think of causes that have impacted your family to make the conversation more relatable. If your child is older, help him or her research organizations that support this cause and accept donations.
At this point, discuss jobs your child could do to earn money with the goal of donating the profits to support these efforts. Consider doing a garage sale, lemonade stand, or bake sale. Maybe your child has a special skill, like art – he or she could create greeting cards to sell or design another unique product or service to earn money. Perhaps you can create a special chore list to help them meet the donation goal. Think outside the box!
As you work through and complete the project, you may have to remind your children of the ultimate goal: to raise money for charity. Reinforcing the purpose of your work may help them stay on track and push through when they want to quit or get sidetracked by items they want to purchase for themselves.
Once your project is wrapped up, help your child make the donation. If possible, take your child in person to the organization you chose so he or she can witness first-hand how the money will support efforts that matter. If this is not possible, help your child fill out an online donation slip, and make sure he or she receives a thank you letter from the organization to honor this accomplishment.
This project is ideal for summer breaks and other times of the year when schedules are a bit more flexible. Most children in elementary school or older will thrive with an in-depth project like this. Toddlers and young children may not fully understand the value of this opportunity, but if you involve everyone in the family, simply let the little ones participate as much as they can. Together, you’ll create a special memory you’ll all talk about and cherish for years.
Raise Kids to Love Service
Ultimately, we all want to raise good kids. We want them to be service-minded, kind, appreciative, humble, and giving. Let’s show them that simple service projects for youth can be fun and worthwhile!
This list of service projects for kids is a wonderful starting point in creating individuals who value giving. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
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