Paper chains are my favorite parenting “trick,” but this kindness Advent calendar takes it up a notch. By combining the concrete visual of a physical countdown with the abstract idea of “random acts of kindness,” this is a not-to-miss holiday tradition that’s good for the whole family.
What is a kindness Advent calendar?
The kindness Advent calendar adds a holiday twist to the traditional advent calendars for children. Along with counting down to Christmas, we can sprinkle in a little bit of the kindness and joy of this magical season.
This countdown becomes an introduction to random acts of kindness and gives children a chance to look beyond their own lives and learn to help and support others.
And it all centers around a simple paper chain.
Why paper chains are actually a powerful tool
Paper chains do a whole lot of good for children. With just a few sheets of construction paper, we can make a concrete manifestation of something unbelievably abstract: time.
Wow, that sentence sounded fancy. But it’s accurate.
Kids, especially young kids, have a hard time with, well, time. It’s very abstract. They can’t see it, hold it, or know it exists. They don’t know what 5 minutes means or 5 days. Someday they will, but that day isn’t today
RELATED: Looking for a Hanukkah version of this activity? Check out the 8 Days of Hanukkah Kindness Activity from Coffee and Carpool.
Use a paper chain for all events, not just Christmas
Time is a hard concept for young children. It’s abstract and basically meaningless to them. They can’t touch it or quantify it.
We see this so much when we have important events, visitors, holidays, vacations and birthdays coming up. “Two weeks to Grandma’s visit!” results in 549 questions over the next 14 days about when Grandma will arrive.
I know you feel this.
The answer to solve this abstract-time-issue is simple: make a paper chain countdown.
RELATED: Need holiday gift ideas for kids that they’ll actually play with? You need my Best Toys for Kids gift guide.
The paper chain changes everything
Once I started making these with my children, suddenly time became concrete.
They could SEE time.
They could TOUCH time.
They could find their own answer to WHEN an event was going to happen. Time actually makes sense when you are looking at a paper chain.
RELATED: Do you love Christmas activities? ME TOO! And I have a whole post of them!
Combining a kindness Advent calendar with a paper chain
As I was getting ready to make my kids’ paper chain to countdown to Christmas, I was wishing for a little more.
At Thanksgiving, we spend the whole month talking about being thankful and grateful with our Thankful turkey project. I missed having that conversation with my children each day.
I decide to turn our regular paper chain in to a kindness Advent calendar and filled it full of random acts of kindness.
How to make a paper chain
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DIRECTIONS: Cut strips of paper about 1 inch long (from the short side of the construction paper).
Write the random act of kindness on the strips.
Grab your first strip, make a loop and staple it. Then add additional chain links be looping through the previous one.
RELATED: Want to try some Random Acts of Kindness in the New Year? Follow along with this February challenge!
Tip – Use my random acts of kindness list
Once I had all my strips of paper cut, I lined them up and wrote my random acts of kindness on each one. I used simple, easy ideas that are actually doable (my kids were all under 6 when I first did this project).
You can use my ideas or come up with your own. Here’s a link to my list (it’s a free download).
This is what I came up with but by all means, make some random acts that fit with your family and vibe.
The more personal – the better – in my humblest opinion!
Click here to download my RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS PDF.
It’s not too late to make a kindness Advent calendar
Whether it’s 25 days to Christmas or 12 days to Christmas or a week!.
Making a paper chain does wonders for kids – and adding this kindness twist is EVERYTHING.
Frequently Asked Questions
My son was 3 years old the first year we did this and he loved it. I know many other second and third borns that started even younger. In the early years, make it a kindness countdown for yourself… and your child will join and participate as they can.
Not much. It uses supplies you most likely have around the house and most of the random acts of kindness are free as well (give someone a hug, offer to help clean a mess you didn’t make). The goal isn’t to spend money on kindness but to show children that kindness is free.
Nope! We have one countdown chain for our whole family. The kids take turns pulling off the loop (one per day at breakfast).
Susie Allison, M. Ed
Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.
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