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“Pine and the Winter Sparrow”

“Pine and the Winter Sparrow”

“For it is in giving that we receive” – St. Francis of Assisi

Learning about virtues is part of the character education program at Saint Benedict Elementary. These virtues teach important values to our students. In the classroom, virtues can be taught using different mediums such as through literature, activities, and sharing experiences. As Kindergarten teacher at Saint Benedict Elementary, I am constantly integrating stories of virtues and saints into our daily lessons in order to help my students better understand how they can grow in faith.
Every month, a different virtue is highlighted and studied across each class at SBE. The virtue of the month of December is charity. Though there are many stories that explore this virtue, I enjoy making connections through art and nature as I have found that young children are often drawn to stories with animals.
One book that I recently read to my class was “Pine and the Winter Sparrow” by Alexis York. This book is a folktale about a young sparrow with a damaged wing, who cannot fly south with his family. He must stay behind and thus sings a song to The Creator seeking guidance.  The Creator assures him he will be okay. Hopping from tree to tree to find shelter, he is rejected until a pine tree hears his cry and offers him shelter. The Pine says,”If you don’t mind my sticky branches and needle sharp leaves, then all that I am and all that I have is yours.”
My students learned, through this story, the importance of charity. In demonstrating kindness and compassion towards one another, we can share the gift of giving which brings us closer to God. And, when we act with charity, we come closer to loving the way God loves us.
As a class, we shared our ideas on how we can be charitable. Some answers students gave were: ” I brought food to my church”, “I gave my mom flowers”, and “I gave my brother a hug when he was hurt.”
As we share in the joy of Christmas, the example provided in the “Pine and the Winter Sparrow,” as well as those given by our students, remind us to keep focused on opportunities to grow in faith and virtue. The Incarnation and birth of Jesus demonstrate His love for us all. May we likewise spread this love and charity during the Christmas season and throughout this year.
Author: Heidi McInerney, Kindergarten Teacher

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