Students in Grade 6 are expected to complete and document 5 hours of service learning. Your school may ask students in other grades to also complete service learning projects. If you are completing a service learning project outside of school, use the service learning rubric and reflection to help you evaluate your project. Here are some ways elementary school students in Fairfax County are helping their community.
Spring is here, which means all over Fairfax County, students are getting their hands dirty in their outdoor classrooms. Laurel Ridge ES students are starting several new garden projects this year. In March, fourth graders planted lettuce, spinach, and radish seeds, which are now sprouting in the warm sunshine. Even younger students are heading outdoors: Kindergarteners will plant pumpkins to harvest in the fall; first graders are producing compost for the gardens using worm castings (that’s the nutritionally rich waste product that worms produce from food scraps); and second graders are planting a pollinator garden to attract animals such as bees and butterflies. Laurel Ridge ES is partnering with the community organization Lands and Waters to create these hands-on learning experiences, all of which are an integral part of the elementary science curriculum. In fact, a 2005 study by the California Department of Education showed a 27% in science test scores for students who learned in outdoor classrooms.
Elementary schools all over Fairfax County are “rescuing” food to deliver to those who need it most. Leftover, unopened food from lunch, such as milk cartons, oranges, or bags of chips are refrigerated and taken to local food pantries. Churchill Road ES pioneered the program when it began collecting food to donate to Share of McLean, and now the program has spread to other elementary schools in the county. For example, Dranesville ES and other elementary schools in the Herndon pyramid donate their rescued food to LINK, which maintains food pantries for those in need in Herndon, Sterling, and Ashburn, and recently Colvin Run ES began a food rescue program to benefit Reston Interfaith. Participating schools are able to reduce their trash while benefiting their communities. Churchill Road ES has been able to reduce its trash from 300 pounds a day to 30 pounds a day, through a combination of recycling, upcycling, composting, and donating leftover food. Students, school staff, and volunteers work together to make it happen. Want to start a food rescue program at your school? Check out the video to see the process in action at Churchill Road ES, or look at the pictures below to see how the process works at Dranesville ES.
“I think food rescue was a creative idea. It helps a lot of people and it’s a very organized process. I feel great that I’m not wasting my food. I’m giving it to people who need it.” – Pallavi, 6th grader at Dranesville ES
Students at Columbia ES recently made lunches for the homeless residents at the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter. Everyone played an important role. Families donated money to purchase the food supplies, surpassing the school’s goal of $2,000, which was used to make 1,000 lunches. Students in kindergarten and the after school School Aged Child Care Program (SACC) decorated the brown paper lunch bags that were later filled with water, juice, fruit, granola bars, chips, candy, and a napkin by the school’s first graders. Students in grades two and three made sandwiches, and students in grades four and five wrote cheerful notes to place in the lunch bags. The residents at Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter will surely enjoy their tasty meals!
Students at Union Mill ES serve their community every month, when they assemble Weekend Power Packs of food as part of the school’s Bread Basket program. The Power Packs ensure that students who depend on the meals they receive at school won’t go hungry over the weekend. Each month, a different grade is responsible for collecting and packaging food donations. The students use their math skills to keep track of the donations as they come in, and then each class works together to assemble the packs, which contain 2 each of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and juice items. The packs are donated to Food for Others, which distributes the packs to other schools in Fairfax County that serve needy students. In February it was the fourth grade’s turn to participate, and they assembled 527 Power Packs in less than an hour, with the help of 20 dedicated parent volunteers. Kate Trussell, the parent volunteer who oversees the effort, says the students have assembled over 1600 Weekend Power Packs so far this school year. Union Mill’s service is just one part of a broader effort to feed students in need that includes schools, churches, and other community organizations. In fact, Food for Others has distributed almost 12,000 packs of food to FCPS students so far this school year.
Students at Union Mill ES have also been busy making valentines for senior citizens. They used their free time and after school time to make the valentines, which were then collected and taken to Cameron Glen Health and Rehab Center in Reston.
Sixth graders at Hayfield recently performed their interpretation of The Whispering Cloth, a book by Pegi Deitz Shea that tells the story of a Hmong refugee girl who learns how to tell her own story as she makes a traditional Hmong story cloth. The students at Hayfield not only narrated the book but also added song, musical instruments, dance, and improvisation. To prepare for the performance, students discussed what it means to be a refugee and how it would feel to be a refugee. They were then able to share their new awareness through their performance. Here you can see students acting out the main character’s visit to the market and the making of the story cloth.
The students in the Westfield pyramid participated in No Name Calling Week from Jan. 22-25. All of the elementary schools participated in a “Bucket Filling Day,” based on the work of Carol McCloud. All year, schools use the bucket as a metaphor to represent the student’s mental and emotional self. Students grow each other’s self-esteem by filling each other’s buckets with kind words and actions. Individual schools also created their own events. For example, students at Deer Park ES participated in an entertaining and informative presentation by licensed therapist Paul Hadfield. As part of the interactive assembly, sixth graders served as role models to the younger students in the audience by demonstrating how bystanders can include those students that are targets of bullying. Students at McNair ES created a Kindness Garden, filled with ways that the students have pledged to be kinder to each other. They also wrote about how to “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully.”
Second graders at Terra Centre are learning about Science, Social Studies, Service, and Art – all in the same project! The students used the plants from their school’s Discovery Garden to make placemats for residents of a family homeless shelter in Fairfax County. A parent volunteer took the cotton that was grown in the Discovery Garden and spun it into yarn. After learning about dyes used by Native Americans, the students then made their own dyes using marigolds, acorns, and other plants from the garden. The dyed yarn was used to make placemats which the students donated to the shelter along with cards they had made to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Fairfax County Elementary Schools are working together! Students at Colvin Run ES collected coats, hats, scarves, and food for the students at Hybla Valley ES. Volunteers delivered over 70 cases of food and over 350 coats!
The students at Centre Ridge ES helped organized a blood drive for the Red Cross on November 5, 2012. Using the statistic that one donation can save three lives, students calculated how many lives could be saved by the students in each class. Although elementary school students are too young to donate blood themselves, they can play an important role in encouraging others to give blood, especially now that so many Red Cross centers have lost their blood supplies during the power outages of Hurricane Sandy.
"I asked my mom to donate so we could help Hurricane Sandy victims." - Ben
The students in the Beach Tree ES Caring Crafts before-school program serve the community in a different way each week! They made cards for veterans, fleece blankets for the homeless, decorations for an adult day care center, and scarves for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
“Crafts and caring – my two favorite things!” – Ashley
Service Learning Resource Teacher
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April 12, 2013