Commercials, commercials everywhere – the ‘average’ child sees 1500 “suggestions” a day! Pre-Christmas season typically appeals to develop natural tendencies like greed and jealousy.
Here is one way to teach them the tricks so they will recognize them:
Act it out by analyzing them:
Watch a TV commercial or cut out some advertisements and ask
- What are they advertising?
- Did what they show make you want it? If yes, why? (If no, why?)
- Did the ad tell you when you should get it?
- Did the ad say you (or the person in the commercial) need this thing
- Did the ad convince you this item will make you happy? Why do you think that?
- Did you ever see something advertised and you got it….but bummer, it didn’t taste or look, or work like it did on TV?
- Did they tell you completely how much the item cost – or were there tiny words you could not read, or someone saying words so fast you could not tell when it was done if there were any extra costs?
Now – let them each choose “a product” from your home to advertise or sell it to the other children – remembering that all the ads when you go shopping are trying to make you think
- the product will make you happier than you are now
- you need the product right now – before it is gone or the deal is over
- make it look better than it really is
Then Choose a Project – or Two!
Make something for someone outside of your home –
If you are crafty – pictures, cookies, picture frames, stories, Christmas cards, a lap blanket, or a gift of music that you deliver to someone who lives alone or in a nursing home
Or – be a missionary – make a list of jobs and their value from 5 to 25 cents (or more) – and each time a child completes a job they put the money in a jar – the contents of the jar can go toward a gift to a family in a faraway country (blankets, baby chicks, teach a child to read, fresh water, a baby cow for milk) or the jar and the change can be delivered by the family to a stranger or neighbor, or to Salvation Army or a local mission
Make a gift certificate for each other with words or pictures showing that you will do something for them they don’t like to do. (I will make your bed. I will take out the dog. I will match socks.) OR something you know that person would like (I will teach you to knit, I will help you make a snowman, I will read to you) Put them in decorated envelopes and put them on or under the tree.
Emphasize that your gift will not be just “advertising” or saying you will do something, but doing it!
While they are creating the gifts share or discuss
- what the real Christmas gift is (Jesus – God’s son)
- why we give gifts to each other
- how we can give gifts of ourselves
This little exercise can help the kids untangle the language of advertisements, learn that gifts do not have to be things, and show them the value of a gift from the heart.
And don’t forget a gift for Jesus:
Poem: from In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti, c. 1872
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.