Operation Christmas Child in the Classroom

Every year my school participates in Operation Christmas Child.  But, this does not have to be a school wide activity.  In fact, you could do it just in your classroom, grade level or even just as a family.

Operation Christmas Child is an outreach of Samaritan's Purse and it is a wonderful way to begin the holiday season.  If you have not heard of Operation Christmas Child, it is an effort to provide Christmas gifts to children around the world.  The gifts are packed in a small box, the size of a shoe box.  {It's pretty amazing what you can fit in that small box!}  Although the cost is minimal, to the children who receive them, it is likely the only Christmas gifts they receive.

Watch this great video that gives more details about Operation Christmas Child.

How I facilitate Operation Christmas Child in the Classroom . . .

Each year I kick off the Operation Christmas Child project with a video or two.  Like the one above, this really helps the students get an idea of who the boxes are for and how excited the children are to receive them.  This is such a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season and help my students focus on others.

The Samaritan's Purse website and You Tube channel have many wonderful stories you can share with your students.  Here's just one of the many stories about the impact a small box can have on a child's life.

Once my students know about the program, our class sets a goal.  We talk about how many filled shoe boxes we want to collect.  I always try to keep this realistic knowing that our new 'favorite' number of  one gazillion might not be best.  😃

Once that is decided on I begin sharing the project and our class goal with the parents.  We generally begin about one month before the due date.  Each week in our class newsletter, I send a video link, a list of suggested items, or some other information about the project.  I also encourage the parents to ask their kids about the project, too!

We continue to talk about Operation Christmas Child in class too.  We brainstorm items that the children would like to receive, we also brainstorm different ways that the students can earn some extra money to go towards the items in the shoebox.  Some of these include doing an extra chore around the house, collecting recyclables, and sharing the project with family and friends.  It's so beautiful to see the students (and their families) embrace this project.  They quickly jump in with ideas on how they can help out and bless others.

At the age of 4 - 6, my students learn best when they can see, feel, touch and experience things.  So I always bring in a box that I have prepared for my students to see.  This gives them the opportunity to see many different items that will fit in a shoe box.  It also allows us to talk about the packing guidelines provided by Samaritan's Purse (no used items, no edible items, etc.).  I also like to show them the letter that my family writes to include in the box.  This really gives them a good idea of what to do as they prepare their boxes at home. Additionally, we pray for the children who will receive the boxes each morning during our carpet time.

I've even prepared a free letter template that you can use too!  Just click on the picture above to download a copy of a similar letter.  The file is already set-up in Powerpoint and ready for you to edit and then print.  Feel free to share it with your students and their families as their prepare their boxes.

As the boxes start getting filled, so does the chatter amongst the class.  They begin talking about the sacrifices they made in order to help others.  They talk about the extra chores with a smile on their face.  They give their friends ideas too.  I hear wonderful stories of the families shopping together in order to fill the boxes.  And my heart smiles as I hear of how the the families, not just the students, have built memories through helping others.

Operation Christmas Child becomes an integral part of the holidays in our classroom.  This year we not only met our goal, but we surpassed it!  The class was so excited that we just had to take a picture!  For privacy reasons you can't see their excited faces so you will just have to trust me.  They were REALLY excited!  😁

Academic Connections to Operation Christmas Child . . .

I am fortunate that my school is all-in when it comes to Operation Christmas Child, but I know that this is not the case everywhere.  Sometimes it is necessary to have an academic or curriculum connection to any activity, including a service project.  So here a few ways that you can connect participation in Operation Christmas Child to your lessons.
  1. As a class, write a letter to the child that will receive your class box.  This could be done as a group writing activity or individually through writer's workshop.
  2. Use the videos about Operation Christmas Child to start some social studies lessons on geography.  This could easily be connected to units on community (different types of communities), economics (needs vs. wants) or even geography (different locations where the boxes are delivered).
  3. Create math problems using information about Operation Christmas Child boxes.  Graph the number of boxes your class collects.  Make story problems related to the project, practice counting or even simple addition and subtraction.  
If you and your class, school or family decide to participate in Operation Christmas Child, I know you will be blessed just as I have been.  It has become a tradition for us to give back through this amazing project that reaches children all around the world.  And if you are interested in participating, but the deadline has already passed, you just might be able to participate by filling a box online through the Samaritan's Purse website.

Back to Top