Character-building stories are everywhere. One classic tale is the story, The Elves and the Shoemaker. The Elves and the Shoemaker is an excellent story that teaches generosity, kindness and gratitude. Share this story with your students and then follow it up with a few fun, inspiring activities.
Put a cover over the title of the book before you read it to the students. Read it page by page, asking students to share what they think will happen next and why. Then, read the next page. When the story is completed, ask students to choose a name for the story. Uncover the book and compare the two titles. Discuss what makes a good title for a story.
Give the children craft sticks with a cardboard circle glued to one end. On one side, it should say “yes” and on the other side, it should say “no.” Ask true/false questions about the story. If it is true, they will hold up the craft stick with the word, yes, facing you. No will be shown if the story is false.
This little story is a little like the movie, Play It Forward. Encourage your students to be sneaky and perform acts of kindness and generosity for someone in the class. Use the activities as a springboard for writing. How does it feel to be generous? How does it feel to have someone perform a generous act for you? How does gratitude feel? You can have a “revealing” time when everyone shares what they did or it can remain a fun mystery for the rest of the year.
Community service centers often pass out clothing to those who are less fortunate. Consider having a shoe drive in your classroom. If possible, have it be school-wide. Collect the shoes and donate them to the center.
Let your students be the elves. Use these simple instructions found at TLC to make a pair of shoes from felt or canvas. The shoes start with each student having his or her feet traced on to a piece of newspaper. They will create a cute pair of moccasins.
Compare and contrast the elves in this story with another stories of elves, the Grimm’s brothers story, The Elves. Lead the children to discuss the differences of the elves; discuss the difference between kindness and meanness.
Bring a little drama into your classroom. Let students dress up and act out the story, The Elves and The Shoemaker.
Teach about gratitude. Talk about why the shoemaker and his wife made clothes for the elves. Talk about ways the children can expressed gratitude. Make cards and write a thank you note to someone in their life, expressing gratitude for something specific.
All children’s literature is useful for teaching children about life. The Elves and the Shoemaker is a story that will help children understand what it means to be generous, kind and grateful.