Give your class the gift of nothing

Throughout the holidays, the children often come to preschool telling me about all the things they either hope to get for Christmas or give for Christmas to mom and dad.  Today, we had fun putting a new spin on the gift giving process with the help of a new book and an empty box…

The Gift of Nothing shared by Teach Preschool

We started our day by reading the book “The Gift of Nothing” by Patrick McDonnell. This book is about a cat who wants to give his friend (a dog) a gift but is having trouble finding something to give because this dog already has everything.  So after much thinking, the cat ends up giving the dog a box with nothing inside – the gift of nothing…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

This is a book about friendship, gift giving, and throughout the book, the author uses the words “something” and “nothing” which naturally leads to lots of fun ways to highlight the concepts of nothing, something, empty, full, and zero…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

After reading our book, the children passed around a gift of nothing I brought for them. Each child opened the empty box and then reached inside to pull out their gift of nothing…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

The children were encouraged to use their imagination to fill the box with something then reach inside and pull out something from the box of nothing. As the children passed the box around the circle those who wished to do so could tell us all what they imagined was in the box…

ice box gear ornaments bells 075

We have lots of three year old’s so we ended up with quite a few pairs of underwear being the “something” that was inside the gift of nothing.  I took a turn too only my something was an imaginary heart for each child…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

We also played a short listening game.  I filled small gift boxes with different objects like pom-poms, bells, rocks, and left one filled with nothing…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

As I shook each box, the children listened to determine which boxes had something inside and which boxes had nothing inside…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

Then we sorted them into two stacks and opened them up to see if we had guessed right…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

At the tables, the children found empty boxes to paint with. It was funny because it took several of the children to figure out that the goal was to paint with the edges of the box rather than the entire box…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

The children would dip the open side of the box into the paint then pick it up and say “there is no paint inside the box!”  So I demonstrated how we could paint with the edges of the box…

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

Our gift of nothing turned out to be a full day of somethings!….

The gift of nothing shared by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

By |2013-12-12T15:17:32+00:00December 12th, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Sarah December 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Fantastic ideas! I love this concept and will plan on looking for this book right away!

  2. Robin December 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    What a great idea! Love it!!

  3. Cheryl Golangco December 13, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Love this idea, and love the story! Now to purchase that book! hehe Thanks for sharing Deborah! 🙂

  4. Pat Noe December 17, 2013 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    L O V E D this book, The Gift of Nothing. Read it to my 4-yr-olds today and it was a hit!!! After reading, we all practiced wrapping “nothing”….wooden blocks, wrapping paper, tape. GREAT CIRCLE TIME!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 17, 2013 at 11:05 pm - Reply

      Yay! It is one of my new favorites now! I love how you wrapped nothing – too cool!

  5. […] Give your class the gift of nothing! […]

  6. Patricia Rodgers December 21, 2017 at 10:07 am - Reply

    I just read this book with our AfterSchool Program kids grades K-6th. It was a very special time for all. They put a different spin on it when one little girl said she would put a BUDDY in the Box and she would take our BULLIES! Heavy comment. Another boy said he would put in kindness and take out anger. Love our kids and love this book. THANK YOU.

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