For the past several years we have participated in High Interest Day at Eisenhower Elementary School in Wauwatosa, WI by planning sessions and supplying volunteers to lead groups of 1st-5th graders throughout the day. A major kudos to the planners of this day, not only for the countless hours they spend coordinating a variety of activities for the kids, but because they thought outside the box when they invited us to lead a topic. The first year was a success and we’re about to participate for the third year in a row. As the idea spreads to other schools, we want to provide a game plan to make it easier for others (maybe you?!) to take the lead.
Our Mission at Sunbeam Kids is to “To engage kids with the world around them through community service projects so they experience how even little hands can make a big impact when they open their hearts and minds to the needs of others.” And our Vision is “To develop self-confident and broad-thinking children who grow up knowing they can make a difference in the world.” While planning projects and meaningful volunteer experiences for families is at the core of what we do, we are also starting to branch out to offer resources to help spread this message beyond Sunbeam Kids members. High Interest Day is a great way to reach groups of kids who might not otherwise attend Sunbeam Kids projects!
This idea of community service sessions at High Interest Day is gaining momentum, and while we can’t supply volunteers for every High Interest Day, we’re always happy to help talk through your project ideas and needs. Here’s what has worked for us:
- Fun Welcome — The kids can decorate a simple bookmark upon arrival that they can take home. This keeps the kids busy while you wait for everyone to arrive. Once everyone is settled they can introduce themselves to the group with name/grade/fun fact to build a sense of community (kids will not all know each other because it is a mix of grades).
- Discussion — What is a Community? What does Service mean? So, what is Community Service? Why is this important? How it makes you feel to help others, and how you think it makes your recipient feel? If time, ask if any of them have done any projects they’d like to share. The goal is to reinforce that they can make a difference no matter how old they are, and in many different ways each and every day…sometimes big and sometimes small, but all important!
- Books — While you may not have time to read a book, summarizing the idea of the book “How Full Is Your Bucket?” is a great way to illustrate the concept that ALL of your actions have consequences — whether positive or negative is up to you. You can find more books from our Suggested Reading List here.
Projects — Typically we’ve done 3-4 different projects within a 45-50 minute session. They include:
- Pipe Cleaner Flowers — each student makes 2-3 pipe cleaner flowers to keep and save to give out to someone they think could use a pick-me-up (e.g. bus driver, teacher, parent, friend).
- Fleece Dog Toys for the Humane Society — each child works with a partner to braid 3 fleece strips in order to make a few dog toys each for a local animal rescue or group.
- Birthday Cards — the kids create birthday cards on construction paper and then vote for where they will go (we always like to give them a voice in the projects so they can feel their impact!). For example they vote on a homeless shelter, Veteran’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Meals on Wheels, etc.
- Personalized Beaded Keychains — the last project we do is one they can keep! We help them make personalized keychains to hang on their backpacks to remind them to have confidence that they can make a difference. We’ve done this through supplying plastic tri-beads (look a little more fun than regular round beads), letter beads, elastic cording and key rings so the kids can put their name or a message on a small beaded keychain.
- Closing — just a quick reminder of all the good work they did and that they should continue to be “bucket fillers” every day!
One Sunbeam Kids mom also led a Sandwich Making project at her child’s school for The Guest House. Here is a link to what you need to do if you want to pursue this as part of High Interest Day or any group project. The above ideas can also work well for a scouting troop or youth group.
Hopefully armed with this information you feel like you could volunteer to bring a Community Service session to your school’s High Interest Day. We are happy to offer more information and supply lists for each of these projects, just email info@SunbeamKids.com for more details.