This the season for charitable giving, but how to teach that to a preschooler can be difficult. Here is what we did this year.
My son's preschool collected personal care items one week and food the next. For the personal care items he and I sat down to make a shopping list, I explained we needed to list "things we used to take care of our bodies." Our finished list was: soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, and band aids. I would have never thought of this last items myself, but certainly it is something the charities could use. By every word on the list I drew an icon so that at the store my son could "read" the list and check off the items as we put them in the cart. For most items we purchased both a kid and adult version (i.e. children's and adults' toothbrushes).
For food we had less of a process. My husband and son had one cart for charity and I had another for our own family. We had coupons for $7 off $30 so we divided and loaded each cart with $30 worth of food. (some of which went to the school's drive and some of which went to my husband's work drive). We tried to get high protein items as those seemed to be in greater need.
Finally we got a name off the giving tree at our parish. We chose a 4-year-old boy so that our son could help choose a gift for a boy like himself.
All items went into a bin I kept in a corner of the kitchen. When my son went to school each day he went to the bin and loaded his backpack with the items being collected and once at school he unloaded his items into the box in his classroom. We spread it out over several days so that he could do the work himself. We wrapped the gift from the giving tree together and he took it to church and put it under the tree there.
Now, do I think my son learned a great lesson in giving.... probably not. But he did practice the act. And like anything else practice makes perfect.