This year before the winter break, students around my school worked on service projects with their buddy classes. Projects ranged from writing letters to local elders, creating holiday cards for neighborhood nonprofits, and making plans for social action projects.
My kindergarten team carefully considered how the kindergarten students could participate and actively engage in a service project with their 4th grade buddies. A few years ago when I worked with @dorakio in 1st grade, we made thank you cards and baked cookies for all of the people that helped us on the 1st grade team. These individuals included the other 1st grade homeroom teachers, multigrade teachers, administrators, nurses, and facilities staff.
Since our kindergarten students just finished their environmental print and concept book study, we thought that sorting and categorizing the individuals in our school into helper groups would be a meaningful and engaging next step for them. We decided to focus on 4 categories of school helpers: recess staff, facilities staff, security staff, and food services staff.
My co-teacher and I decided to bring our students down to the first floor of our school building so that they could see all of the school staff photos in the stairwell.
The students were excited to notice their many teachers featured on the wall. We started to guide their notices by asking, “Who are the people who help you in school? Who are the people who help you stay safe, learn, and have fun?” Soon, students were excitedly exclaiming, “The nurses! They help us when we get hurt.” and “I see the recess teachers. They help us on the roof.” Thanks to our communications department and technology staff, we were able to print out individual photos of the two groups we were going to thank: the facilities department and the recess teachers.
For the next few days, the children sorted these headshots into the two categories and then brainstormed ideas of how the facilities staff and the recess teachers help us learn, stay safe, and play in school. I will insert their brainstorm posters here after the break. As a class, we used these ideas to help us draft thank you letters. This shared writing exercise was also a great way to discuss the structure of a letter. Many students knew that we had to start with, “Dear _______,” and that we had to sign our names at the end. Here are their two versions for our school helpers: