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“Education is the most powerful weapon
which you can use to change the world.”
― Nelson Mandela
― Nelson Mandela
I can think of no greater task in the present, than preparing our young people for the future. That's why, when I learned about the Champions for Kids project, Fiskars Shape Their Future, I didn't have to think twice about diving right in. The Shape Their Future campaign puts school and craft supplies in the hands of students in schools where those supplies are scarce. I knew that I could develop a Shape Their Future project that would benefit the students in the class where I'm student teaching, as well as a classroom in our community that is not quite as fortunate. My whole family worked on the project, along with the first grade teachers and our students. With this simple community service project, everyone walked away having gained something of value.
The project began when I spoke with a local teacher about finding a school that was in need of classroom and crafting supplies. She directed me to her friend who teaches a class in Salinas, California. The majority of the students in the class are from migrant families, and the students are getting by without any of the basics. I thought about the kids at our school and about their shiny school boxes overflowing with scented markers, fancy pencils and "gourmet" crayons. I realized right then and there that I could create a lesson that would give our kids an appreciation for all of their blessings, and teach them about giving to others as well.
My family got into the spirit of giving by spending an afternoon shopping all the Back to School sales in town to buy the supplies needed to put together school-boxes for each of the students at the Salinas school. Later in the day, we created an assembly line in the classroom where we put together the boxes.
Last week, in the classroom, we started a unit on apples. We've been studying the apple life cycle in science and have been learning about the life of Johnny Appleseed in Language Arts. The kids have learned that Johnny Appleseed was an American hero because he dedicated his life to helping and serving the needs of others. This was a perfect segue into the Fiskars service project.
After reading another book about Johnny Appleseed this morning, I introduced the project as a way to do-good in our community (just like Johnny). We talked about all of the things that we're grateful for in our classroom. Then I explained that some classrooms aren't as fortunate, and therefore we were going to "plant some seeds" of love in our own community by giving less fortunate students their own school supplies.
The lesson provided the perfect opportunity to introduce another American hero, Cesar Chavez. We read the book, Harvesting Hope, by Kathleen Krull. After, we had a discussion about ideas stirred-up by the story. The class agreed that Cesar Chavez inspired hope and made a difference, even though he was only one person, had come from very humble beginnings, and faced many obstacles. The children were keen to observe that Chavez never gave up. The book also gave the students insight into the world of migrant farm workers, and we discussed how grateful we are for the families who work very hard in our fields to harvest all the healthy fruits and vegetables that we enjoy. I could tell that the kids made a connection from what we learned about Cesar Chavez and migrant families to the children who would be receiving our gifts.
To continue with the metaphor of "sowing the seeds of love" and to complement our apple studies, I designed a project, inspired by the "Pencil Eraser Stamping" project featured on the Fiskars website. This sweet little project is easy and fun for kids and yields charming results. For our gift tags, I first designed a simple tag on the computer.
The kids started their gift tag by writing their name on the line. Then, they took a small, pre-cut piece of brown construction paper and used a brown crayon or pen to draw a criss-cross pattern. They glued the piece to the bottom of the tag, then added another small piece of brown paper to serve as the rim of the "apple basket".
Then, the students used the eraser of a new pencil and red Crayola tempera paint to dot a heap of apples on the basket. Once the tags had dried, each student got to tie up their donation with their personalized tag.
In addition to wrapping up a school box for each student, the other first grade teachers and I put together a huge basket of school supplies for the teacher that included construction paper, magic markers, pencils, rulers, a class set of composition books, and lots of fiction and non-fiction books for a class library.
When I deliver this to the school in Salinas, we're going to give them a big basket of apples to complete the theme.
I am so grateful to Fiskars for making this donation possible and inspiring so many people as a result.
For more great ideas on fun educational crafts to do with kids, visit the Fiskars website HERE. Fans of Fiskars will want to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
You can help spread the word about Champions for Kids service projects by joining them on Facebook. To see what other creative givers all over the country are doing, check out Champions for Kids on Pinterest.