Simple Service: In-School Service

Little Hands Can has had the opportunity over the last month to form a wonderful positive partnership with Coburg Community Charter School for their Skill Days. The Little Hands Can Skill Days activities have provided students the opportunity to grow their skills of kindness and generosity towards themselves and others.  Each day focused on a different pillar of giving, which was paired with a hands-on service project.  This program seeks to empower and inspire children to better their community and to become our next generation of civic-minded leaders. I was so inspired by these Kindergarten, first, and second-graders generous hearts and genuine eagerness to learn about giving, as well to help others. Here’s what we did:

Day 1: Kindness

On our first Skill Day, we focused specifically on kindness. We read a book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud which is one of my very favorite books to teach children about how to fill others up and make them happy.

Our Object Lesson involved children take turns “filling the teacher’s bucket” by naming an act of kindness. Each time the child named an act of kindness and/or a way to serve others, they place a bead in the teacher’s bucket and in his/her own bucket.  They came up with ideas such as helping a friend with math, sitting with someone who is alone, asking a peer to play at recess, giving a card to someone.  We talked about how, as we fill others’ buckets, our own fill up, too!  Not only do we make others feel good, but we feel good because we are doing good.

Our Service Project was making friendship bracelets.  With the beads the children collected in their bucket, we further spread kindness by making a bracelet out of those beads.  Each bracelet the children made contained positive messages such as You are Awesome, Kindness, Be Strong, So Grateful, Love. Children made bracelets for their teachers and friends, but also made 24 bracelets to donate to the School Counselor so that he can then pass them on to children having a difficult day in an effort to brighten it at least a little bit.

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Day 2: Compassion and Empathy

Our second day focused on teaching the children about empathy and compassion and how we can extend our kindness and love to people we don’t know, and who we may never even meet. We started by reading You, Me, and Empathy by Joyneen Sanders. I love the way this teaches children about how to put themselves in another person’s shoes and think of ways to help when others are struggling.

Our Object Lesson:  Empathy in a Shoebox (a lesson on how to put ourselves in “someone else’s shoes”). In this lesson, a few volunteers came up and opened up shoe boxes with various sizes/genders of shoes. Each shoe box also contained a description of who wears those shoes. The children learned that, even though those particular shoes may not fit them, they can still try to understand the person who may wear them. We can empathize with others and understand their feelings, even if we ourselves are not in that same position. Then, we can take it a step further and try to help by becoming compassionate problem solvers.

Our Service Project:  We made 24 cards for children in the hospital for an organization called Cards for Hospitalized Kids.  First, we discussed that there are many children who don’t have the opportunity to go to school or play with their friends every day, because they have illnesses or health concerns that require them to spend much of their time in the hospital.  We asked, how would we feel in this situation (empathy)?  What is something we could DO to help cheer them up and brighten their day (compassion)?  The children made some absolutely wonderful cards for other children they will probably never know. Despite this fact, they still genuinely wanted to make them feel better.  

This also opened up the conversation about how children can make a HUGE difference—Cards for Hospitalized Kids is an organization that was started by a kid!

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Day 3: Teamwork and Helpfulness

We began day three by reading One Good Deed by Terri Fields. In this wonderful book we learn about how one child’s good deed changed an entire neighborhood for the better through its ripple effect.

Our Object Lesson:  Hot/Cold Game.  One child left the room and one child hid a painted rock.  The remaining group work together to help guide the volunteer to the hidden object.  We discussed how each child in the room worked as part of a team to help the volunteer find the hidden object. We then extended this discussion to the topic of the Eugene Mission and how the organization began with a group of people who came together as a team to try to solve a problem they witnessed in our community—people without homes.

Our Service Project:  We put together 70 Mini First Aid Kits for the Eugene Mission!  First, we talked about how there are many many people at the mission who work together to help others. It’s a huge team of staff and volunteers.  It wouldn’t be possible without every person’s contribution.  Then, we discussed one way we can work together to help the Mission. (By making the first aid kits for those who don’t have money to buy basic necessities, and no home to store them in).  The kids worked as a team to complete the kits.  We use cleaned/recycled pill bottles so we will first talk about how we NEVER open pill bottles.  Pill bottles normally contain medications for people who need them, but we would never open them on our own.  These bottles are being re-used to help protect the environment and are being labeled as FIRST AID KITS so there is no question about what is inside. Inside the kits: 2 Q-tips, 2 Bandaids, 2 alcohol swabs, and 2 antibiotic ointment packets.

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The Kinder-2nd Grade children I worked with over the last few weeks at Coburg Community Charter School demonstrated amazing compassion, empathy, and enthusiasm for helping others! It was truly an inspiring and empowering experience for all involved. This week the kids get to present what they worked on for their Skill Days to their peers at their school-wide assembly. I’m so excited for them to share their big hearts with the school.

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