We completed our February service activity this week. As ISATs (our state's standardized test) are coming up next week, we thought it would be a great way to show our support of our upper grade level peers and work to boost their morale by making them a few "super"cards to share how we feel about them!
I would encourage everyone to include a service learning component in your classroom! I have found it so incredible to see kids at such a young age (still in that egocentric phase you know...) truly learn the meaning of giving and being compassionate to others. Because this is one of my favorite things to do with my students throughout the year, I'd thought I'd share with you some other projects we have done this year if you are ever searching for any ideas!
- We wrote letters to our Veterans.
- We collected cans as a class before Thanksgiving, and donated them to a local food pantry. (This also turned into a great math graphing activity.)
- We donated our spare changes (mostly pennies- boy do those add up) during December to raise money to fund the education of a child who could not afford to go to school for Christmas through World Vision. This was a great lesson in learning how fortunate we all are to have the right to go to school! Also, I bought one of those money counting jars (you know the one where you put in the coin and it adds it up for you). Wow, did they ever love watching their total go up and what a great way to practice counting coins!
- I went to Honduras this past summer as a translator for my mother who is an oncology nurse. She was going to train nurses in the hospitals. I visited the children's cancer hospital (which was hard to see...) and got contact information for the on site teacher. So this year, we made get-to-know-you cards and drawings, in Spanish which was perfect, and sent them to the kids in the hospital to brighten their day. (Once again...good tie in to letter writing.) You could do this with any hospital or nursing home even too!
-Last month (this was one of my favorites) we took a morning to chat about all of the great things our custodians do for us as at school. I don't know about you all...but our custodians rock and help me with just about everything! After brainstorming, we created a giant "Thank You" poster in which the students wrote one way they help them, and then I printed out their photos and we created "Super Custodians" to hang in their doorway to remind them how "super" we think they are. So cute.
These are just some of the things we have done so far this year! To wrap up, I wanted to share a quick story with you all that has inspired me more than anything to ensure that service learning is a part of my classroom. Two years ago, when the huge earthquake in Haiti hit, I was teaching 1st grade dual. I had done similar service projects with my students that year, and we had just finished donating our spare change to World Vision in December. When I heard about the earthquake, I knew I had to at least share with my kids what was going on (in kid friendly terms of course). The day after it happened during our morning meeting I asked any of them if they had heard about it, knew what an earthquake was etc. After this, I told them that I just wanted them to think good thoughts for the people of Haiti, but that we would not be collecting money because we had just done so in Dec. and I knew their piggy banks were empty.
The next day to my surprise, I had several students come in the morning with spare change, dollars, etc. telling me that they wanted me to give it to Haiti. I had goosebumps and nearly teared up that they had come up with this all on their own, and clearly wanted to make a difference in their own little way! At our morning meeting that morning, I spoke with them again about what was going on and they reiterated to me that they really wanted to help! I could not resist of course and thus began the "Lend a Hand to Haiti" compaign. I got in contact with our local Red Cross and got canisters for not only our classroom, but all of the rooms in the school. My students brought them to all of the rooms, and collected them at the end of the two-week campaign. They made posters sharing how you could help to hang around the school, wrote and brought in news articles about what had happened to share with others, and we took some of our science time to study earth quakes and how/why they occur. In the end of it all, the director of our Red Cross came to present a giant check to us at an all school assembly thanking all of the students for their hard work. I cannot express how elated my students felt, in knowing that they did something so wonderful for another. I encourage you to take those little teachable moments any chance you can get, because for my kids it turned into a life changing experience and I can honestly tell you they will never forget what an earthquake is or where the little country of Haiti is located.
I actually had the opportunity to go to Haiti with my church the following summer. I must say it was so it was so near and dear to my heart after all that we had worked to do.
Tell me this shirt doesn't crack you up?
Does anyone do any service learning in your classroom. I am always looking for new ideas so please share! I would be so very appreciative :)