Teaching Children the Mitzvah of Returning Lost Items

Kids can relate to losing something important to them. The Jewish commandment to return lost objects, hashavat aveidah, is an easy mitzvah for small children to perform. While children may not completely understand why it is that they can't just keep the cool thing they found, they do make connections and understand emotions like sadness and happiness. Remind kids that it's perfectly alright to want something cool or unique -- what's not okay is keeping something that belongs to someone else. Returning something lost to its owner is a great way to help kids under five develop empathy for others as well.

Explore this concept with your children by reading a story, watching a short video, or doing a fun activity. In the “More” section you’ll also find extra links for parents.

READ

Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning

Recommended for children 6 to 7 years old

A piece of red cloth falls from the sky -- and now a shoeshine boy tries to find its rightful owner. Set in a Lower East Side tenement neighborhood, this story exemplifies the value of hashavat aveidah, returning lost objects, in a rich, multicultural community.


A Hen for Izzy Pippik by Aubrey Davis

Recommended for children 6 to 7 years old

What’s a girl to do when she finds a chicken and can’t return it to its owner? How long should she wait before calling the bird (and its many offspring!) her own? Shaina seems prepared to wait forever for Izzy Pippik to return.


FOUND by Salina Yoon

Recommended for children 3 to 4 years old

When Bear finds a stuffed bunny in the forest, he starts looking for its owner. But soon he gets to like the bunny! What will happen when the owner comes forward?


The Parakeet Named Dreidel by Isaac Signer

Recommended for children 7 to 8 years old

Recommended for children 7 to 8 years old
A parakeet shows up at David’s family’s window one snowy Hanukkah night. When they can’t track down his owners, they happily adopt him as their own pet. But many years later David meets the bird’s original owner, Zelda. How can they both keep the parakeet?


Sara Finds a Mitzva by Rebeka Simhaee

Recommended for children 4 to 6 years old

When Sara finds a toy duck, she’s tempted to keep it -- but her grandmother explains that returning a lost object to its owner is a mitzvah (literally, “commandment” -- often understood to mean “good deed”). Happily for Sara, she learns that doing thing can be its own reward.

WATCH

These short videos help kids understand that “finders keepers, losers weepers,” is not a very nice, or Jewish, idea.

Finders, Returners via Shaboom! from BimBam

Boy Reunited With His Lost Teddy Bear via HuffPost

Fans of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood can also watch this clip where Daniel’s teacher helps him understand how sad his friend Chrissie feels when her charm bracelet goes missing.

DO

DISCUSS

Play pretend a bit and ask kids what they would do in hypothetical situations. For example, what if you found £100 in a car park or a really fancy video game in the park? What would you do and why?

TACKLE THE LOST AND FOUND

Does your Cheder or preschool have a lost and found? Brainstorm with your kids about ways that you might help reunite each object with its owner. Will you make flyers or signs? Ask people? Organise the items in a way that makes them easier for people to see?

FIND AND MATCH

This is a fun activity and a good way to sneak in some chore-time with your kids. Go through the sock drawers or laundry basket and find all of the single socks. Then embark on an epic scavenger hunt through the house to find their mates. By the end you’ll have played a fun game of “lost and found” and hopefully salvaged a few pairs of socks as well.

MORE

When Loved Toys Go Missing, The Best Hotels Take Action via The Boston Globe
Returning Lost Objects via Aish.com

 

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