Enjoy the magic of Christmas with this precious literature-based lesson that includes a special service project for your family to do together. I think you’re going to love the Silver Packages activity so much that it might even become a Christmas tradition.
Traditions help families build relationships and give a sense of peace and security to children. They are the things that hold memories for a lifetime and span generations because they are so meaningful. Some traditions, like the one I’m sharing today, can even benefit people outside of your family and that makes a tradition even more special.
This post contains affiliate links.
Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite authors. She’s from my state of Kentucky, which gives her books for kids a headstart in my mind, but many of them really are wonderful. You may already be familiar with When I Was Young in the Mountains, The Relatives Came, The Old Woman Who Named Things, and the Henry and Mudge series. Those are just a handful of the wonderful books in her collection.
Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story is another of her excellent books. This one is perfect to read during the Christmas season!
Some areas of the Appalachian Mountains in the Eastern U.S. experience extreme poverty from a lack of job opportunities in the rural, often coal mining, towns. Only a few hours from my house, the Appalachian region runs through Eastern Kentucky. That makes this Silver Packages story literally close to home.
The book tells the true story of a man who used to deliver a train full of Christmas gifts to Appalachian towns each year from 1943-2019. As you can imagine, the “Santa Train” was a highlight for the children, many of whom may not have received any other gifts.
Silver Packages Activity
The first time we read the book, I loosely used this unit from Homeschool Share to do a mini-unit study. We covered geography, history, social studies, some language arts, a little science, and a lot of Bible. It brought us back to our cozy Five In A Row days. What good memories!
However, the main activity is simple and requires nothing more than reading the book and making a whole-hearted decision to purchase a gift for a needy child this Christmas. That first time reading the book, my children decided on their own to each buy a gift to give with their own money and the yearly tradition was set in motion.
Places to Donate Gifts
There are plenty of opportunities to share gifts at Christmas in your local community. Our first responders do Toys For Tots, there are Angel Trees located in various businesses, shelters host Christmas parties, and our church even has a yearly toy drive. I bet you can find plenty of donation places in your community, too.
It’s so heartwarming to see children giving. When kids give from the heart, you can rest assured that you are doing a good job with character-building, too. (Even if they aren’t quite ready to joyfully give this year, be a good example yourself and you’ll soon see generosity flourish in them.)
Other Books About Giving
While not all of these are Christmas-themed, they are all about the beautiful gift of generosity. You can read a few of them to further support the Silver Packages activity or simply stockpile them to read here and there to reinforce a heart for giving to those in need.
A few of my very favorite picture books of all time are on this list. I hope several of the books find a special place in your heart and home, too!
Every year, we reread Silver Packages just before heading out the door to buy our special gifts for needy kids. It’s one of our favorite activities to do each December and I hope it will be one of your favorites, too.