While many around the world celebrated Father’s Day in June, here in Australia Father’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in September. Since that is now just a few weeks away, I thought I’d get in early with some low-cost Father’s Day gift suggestions that can be incorporated into your literacy and art programs.
A cautionary note
However, before I share them, I’ll begin with a cautionary note.
Be aware of the diversity of families in your class and the needs of individuals. Not all children have a father present in their lives, and not all fathers fit the perfect role model. While the day is not just for dads, but for grandfathers, stepfathers, and other male carers and role models too, a day to let them know how much they are appreciated; for some children, the day can be a painful reminder of someone missing. Be sure to adjust what you do to be inclusive of children’s circumstances, for example; “Celebrating a special adult in my life day”, or consider leaving any celebration to the children and their families.
Most classrooms are peopled by children from a diversity of traditions and cultures. Learning about and appreciating the similarities and differences is an important part of establishing a supportive classroom environment and encourages acceptance of and respect for each family’s composition and heritage. Suggestions to support discussions are available in readilearn History resources. Conducting Getting to know you surveys about families and who children live with can also help identify suitability of the celebration with your class.
Gifts from the heart on Father’s Day
Encouraging children to create and give a gift from the heart demonstrates that not all gifts need come from a shop. It allows children from even the poorest families to give their Dads a special Father’s Day gift. It helps develop their creativity and teaches them skills that they can apply in future gift-giving situations. It shows how thoughtfulness and imagination can combine to make a unique gift that will be treasured.
A gift of love lasts longer than any store-bought gift.
- Read picture books featuring fathers
A few of my favourites are:
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
My Dad by Anthony Browne
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer
Hey, I Love You by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Rosie Reeve
Of course, there are many others too. What is your favourite?
- Discuss what a father is and write a collaborative verse; for example:
Write the phrase, “A father is someone who” on the board and ask children to complete the statement. Write their suggestions. Collect as many ideas as you can. Children will share a variety of special, mundane, humorous, complimentary, and perhaps not so complimentary, statements about their Dads.
Compile the suggestions into a verse. Print and distribute the verse for children to illustrate with pictures of their dads (ensure they sign their illustrations in the bottom right-hand corner).
When laminated, rolled into a scroll, or colourfully framed, these make a lovely Father’s Day gift.
- Write individual books about “My Dad”
The collaborative verse is a great way to get children thinking about all the special things their dads do for them. It is only a small step from here for children to make their own individual books composed of statements about their fathers. This time children write a series of statements beginning with “My Dad”. They may write things such as:
- My Dad tucks me into bed at night.
- My Dad reads me stories.
- My Dad makes me feel better when I am sick.
- My Dad goes to work
- My Dad likes to watch football on TV.
- My Dad watches me play soccer.
- My Dad takes me fishing in his boat.
If children write their statements into their writing books first, they can be edited and proofread before publishing in a book. With each statement written on its own page and illustrated, these books make a lovely gift. Refer to the resource How to make a book cover for step by step instructions for making a cover for a book using complementary colours, as well as other writing suggestions. The instructions for making a book cover can be displayed on the white board for children to read and follow.
- Write exaggerated stories about “My Dad”
Who doesn’t like to brag about their Dad? Children may like to make up exaggerated stories about their Dads. Brainstorm for ideas; for example:
- My Dad can jump higher than the moon.
- My Dad can run faster than a train.
- My Dad can lift a whole house on one hand.
- My Dad can eat one hundred burgers in one go.
Or make it funny:
- My Dad can run faster than the fastest snail.
- My Dad can jump over a flower in one leap.
- My Dad can touch his toes, when he’s sitting down.
- My Dad can snore louder than a volcano exploding.
- Write “I love” poems
Discuss and list things children love to do with their Dads. Children write their own list poem of things they like to do with their Dads; for example:
I love cooking with my Dad.
I love it when my Dad reads me stories.
I love watching television with my Dad.
I love playing games with my Dad.
Refer to the resource Write your own “I love” poem for other ideas and a printable card template.
- Draw or paint a self-portrait, or portrait of self with father
Provide children with a selection of papers and drawing or painting media to make a self-portrait for their Dads. Alternatively, they may wish to make a portrait of their Dad or of themselves with their Dads. This activity works well if they have already had opportunities to work with different media; for example:
- felt pens
- gel pens
- watercolour paints
- acrylic paints
- powder paints
Provide a selection of collage materials from which children may choose to enhance their portraits if desired.
The finished portraits could be framed with strips of coloured paper and mounted on a stiff cardboard backing, or laminated for durability.
- “I love you this much” card
“I love you this much” cards are a special gift made with the child’s own handprints and extending into an outstretched hug. (Refer to the resource “I love you this much” a card to make for step-by-step instructions in two versions: one to download and print; the other a video to view online.)
Father’s Day activities All the suggestions from this blog post are included in this one free easy to download resource.
The readilearn estory The Ice Cream Shop features an outing with Dad. However, before reading it with your children, decide if you wish to use the interactive covered cloze version with them. If desired, for most effective teaching and learning, the covered cloze should be used prior to any other familiarisation with the story.
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