Today's post is our first Little Hands Can guest post. It's written by Sara - a friend of LHC who lives with her husband and two small children in Missouri.
Service Project: Thank you cookies for fire fighters
Prep time: 1.5 hour
Duration: 1.5 hours
Lesson(s) learned: Saying ‘thank you’ is important and we can say it by reciprocating service.
How we did it: Our family has been discussing the importance of gratitude recently due to me spending all my time filling out thank you cards for baby gifts. Tommy (3 years old) wanted to help by decorating some of the cards himself with paint, colored pencils, crayons, etc. Soon we ran out of people in need of Tommy’s hand-crafted cards and he promptly began thinking of other people who serve him and need to be thanked (Santa was high on the list but I pulled a Scrooge and vetoed that idea due to the logistics and wastefulness involving using real stamps to send mail to imaginary addresses). I remembered Tommy’s fascination with the local fire station and suggested we thank the fire fighters with cookies and another hand-made note.
I invited other local families with kids Tommy’s age to come with us to tour the fire station and thank the firemen for all they do. We picked a time and date and I called the local fire station and asked if we could stop by and he said yes. In retrospect, I probably should’ve checked with the fire station first to see when they were available, but I figured they are there 24/7 and so I risked it.
The morning of the trip Tommy helped me bake cookies. We had many interruptions for the repeated washing of hands and utensils as almost everything eventually made its way into his mouth. While the cookies baked I got out various art supplies and let Tommy make a card. I simply wrote “Thank you” on the front and let him have at it. Once everything was done I dropped the cookies into a big zip-lock bag and taped the note onto the front of it.
We met two other families at the fire station for a tour. There were ten kids (aged zero to six) and six adults total. Between the kids climbing on everything and the dads asking way too many questions about explosions, we were there a lot longer than I planned. At the end I had Tommy give the cookies to the fireman and say thank you.
What went well: I liked showing Tommy and the other kids how easy it is to do something nice for the people in our community who help us. I like that I was able to take a preexisting interest and build on it and I know it will be something he remembers every time we drive by the fire station. Another benefit is that we have been able to establish the concept that there are certain people you can always go to if you need help, such as fire fighters, the police, and letter carriers. Honestly, I liked that this was easy, inexpensive, and a lot of fun for everyone – even the grown-ups!
What needs improvement: Making cookies with a pre-schooler is bound to be frustrating. I ended up commandeering the project. In retrospect we probably should’ve made something he could better help with like rice crispy treats, no-bake cookies, or rolling and decorating sugar cookies. I also worry that the point was muddled when the tour basically turned into playtime at the fire station. I think that talking to all the kids in advance about the purpose and even having them make their own cards would’ve helped. I think a way to follow up would be to have everyone make a list of other people who serve and then have the kids think of ways to serve them back.
Special thanks to Sara for this excellent post!
Would you like to contribute a guest post? Simply follow the same format Sara did and email your post to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can use one of our ideas (found here) and tell us how you did it. Or you can share your own idea for others to try! Can't wait to hear from you.