Sunday, May 28, 2017

Caring for Homeless Animals: A Caring Project

Our school was doing a school wide focus on caring for the community.  We had decided to focus on supporting our local pet shelter SICSA and a local service dog trainer.  Our driving question was "How can we help SICSA and the service dog trainer help animals?"  I read this true story about a dog named Nigel to the kids and it had a powerful impact on them.


It is about a dog who was not loved or taken care of very well by his owner.  They don't go into a lot of detail about this part of this dog's life, but the picture is powerful. It shows a dog who is skin and bones chained up in a yard full of trash. Someone sees him and calls the local shelter.  It goes on to show how the local shelter helped him heal physically, took care of him and then found him a forever family.  The dog is well loved and taken care of by his new family but gets stressed when the children leave for school.  They solve the problem by taking him to the local library for kids to read to him.  It is based on a true story and really hit home in a child-appropriate way how a shelter works and even introduced them to what a service dog can do.

We were doing a school wide fundraiser for SICSA and a local service dog trainer.  The class who won the most money was going to have a dog from SICSA come visit their class. After reading that book, the kids brought in money every single day.  I was blown away by the generosity of them and their families. We brought in the most money by far and you could tell it was more about helping the shelter and the service dog trainer than getting to see the dog.  I was so proud of them!


We had talked about other things that we could do to help the local shelter and decided on creating cat toys for the homeless cats to play with.  We went online and picked out a few that they felt they could create and that I knew we had materials for. They made toys that would exercise their bodies and brains. Here are some of their homemade cat toys.

TP tubes decorated with treats inside.  The cats have to use their brains to figure out how to get them out and they have to exercise as they try to get them out. 
These are to give the cats exercise as they bat them around and they roll and bounce so that they have to chase them.
Wine corks with feathers duck taped to them for cats to play with for exercise.
TP tubes in a tissue box with treats in some of them.  The cat has to figure out how to get the treats out.
Bottles with treats in them. Take the caps off and as the cats roll them around, treats randomly fall out.
Fishing poles for the workers to play and interact with the cats to give them exercise.

Here are all of the cat toys they made.


The day SICSA came,  we gathered everything including some soft, comfy blankets that one of our families also donated for the animals beds and took them to the gym to present them along with everything the other classes made for them. Some made thank you cards for the volunteers and posters showing new families how to take care of their new pet.


Unfortunately, I was not here the day that SICSA and the service dog came so a substitute got to have all the fun of seeing their joy so I do not have any pictures of that day, but here is a picture from Mrs. Addington of the puppy that SICSA brought for the kids to pet!  What a cutie!  I hope he finds a forever family soon!


This was such a wonderful way to give the kids a chance to show empathy for those who cannot care for themselves.  This right here is true project based learning.  Projects with a purpose!  Projects that actually solve a problem or helps the community.  Because of that purpose, the kids were very invested in it.  They desired to help these animals out and did it through helping SICSA and a local service dog trainer.  If I would have started this sooner, I would have spent more time with them learning about service dogs and what they can do.  We had some discussions, but didn't have time to dig deeper. After we finished, the kids were still interested in pets and their needs. It was showing in their discussions and play, so we decided to dig a little deeper and learn more about what pets need to survive, be healthy and happy. That will be in the next post!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

April Skies: Using Art for Science

During our Sky Inquiry, we decided to create a collaborative art piece that showed the color of the sky for each day of April.  I love using art and science together! The kids would take turns looking at the sky, mixing paint to match the color of the sky that day, then add it to our canvas.






The kids loved this!  Here is our finished canvas.  Of course, we named it "April Skies."


We looked at the canvas to see what this piece of art they created told us about the sky in April and recorded what we noticed. Here is how we displayed it in the hallway outside of our room.


Art and Science are two of my favorite things so if I have a chance to use them together, I will!