3 community service projects and activities for teaching compassion in the classroom
My school community has always done a good job of promoting outreach projects, but to ensure that kids are really taking away all that they can we need to provide more deliberate instruction on what it means to be compassionate and the impact that just one person can have.
I have always loved doing community service projects within my room such as food drives, various clothing drives, and a favorite of mine, putting together craft kits for our local children’s hospital. Many of these units in my room have been inspired by school fundraisers, but not until I took the time to deepen my student’s understanding did they feel compelled to fully participate.
When children realize that you believe that they can make a difference, their ideas are so priceless and incredibly kind. They just want to do it all. There is nothing like the innocent, raw compassion of a child.
I decided to take my compassion projects to another level by finding literature to better provide my students with an understanding of the issue/problem we were focusing on. I also created shared reading activities and fun extensions with science, art, and when applicable math. In the unit, there are additional resources to extend learning and fundraising ideas as well.
My first Compassion in Action unit is focused on water conservation inspired by the book “The Water Princess” by Susan Verde. The story is about a young child in Africa, who walks for miles each day to retrieve water alongside the other girls and women of her village. After I initially read the story I found out that it was inspired by the childhood of supermodel Georgie Badiel. Georgie partnered with the author Susan Verde to bring awareness to this struggle and inspire people to contribute to her foundation that helps to provide access to clean drinking water and sanitation for the people of Burkina Faso.
The second Compassion in Action unit is about collecting shoes, clothing, and/or toiletries for those in need. There are many ways to make an impact in your local community or make an impact around the world by sending these items to people suffering from natural disasters or lack of resources. This project not only teaches compassion but also helps to promote recycling and reduce waste.
The product includes a detailed lesson plan, parent letter, donation tracking sheet, posters, and more. There are two books that a great for introducing this project to your students, “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts and “The Mitten Tree” by Candice Christiansen. Each book has accompanying reading comprehension activities, crafts, and lesson ideas. Additionally, 50% of all earnings from this Clothing Charity Unit will be donated to the Soles for Souls charity.
The Compassion in Action food charity service project is a canned food drive that involves collecting canned food items for people in need. This project teaches students about the issue of hunger and how they can help to alleviate it by donating food. We start by reading “Maddi’s Fridge” by Lois Brandt and “Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen” by DyAnne Disalvo to help students understand the issue of hunger so that we can then work on brainstorming our solutions and eventually make a plan for getting food to those in need.
The project can be carried out by partnering with a local food bank or soup kitchen, and students can be asked to bring in canned food items such as vegetables, fruits, and soups. Be sure to check with whoever you are partnering with first to see what items they need most so that you can include them in your posters or the information you send home.
This Food Charity Unit also includes food drive posters, collection materials, crafts, posters, reading comprehension activities for the books, and more. Additionally, 50% of all earnings from this unit will be donated to Feeding America charity.
I hope this inspires you and your kiddos! You might also like reading these blog posts: