Friday, June 14, 2013

15 Educational " Summer of Service" Projects for Kids

I feel urgency  to teach my children about the world, the community, and how to make a difference. There is no better time to teach children than during the summer vacation- when they have lots of extra time on their hands!

 I've designed this list so that they can do a variety of things and learn a variety of skills.
My hope is that they will gain an education while serving people. Doing this list will help them to feel gratitude for their own blessings, to be resourceful, kind, and compassionate, care more about the environment, safety, animals, and mostly people.

The projects are organized into months, but really any project would work any time! I made a huge list HERE. These are definitely tailored to kids, but they'll  need an adult to guide these activities.

1. Decorate and donate flip flops to children living in La Chureca, Nicaragua {a literal dump}
Photo image: Craft Hope
 Craft Hope is teaming up with Mission Nicaragua to help the children who live in La Chureca- which literally is a dump. There are about 5,000 people who live here. Nicaragua is the 2nd poorest nation in the world, and this particular place is most definitely the poorest of the poor. Craft Hope is collecting flip flops to take to these children, and she suggests that children can help decorate them.  Read more about the project, and where to send the flip flops HERE.

***SKILLS: Geography, compassion, empathy, art, design, gratitude
Teach children where Nicaragua is. Show them pictures of the children who live there. Have them compare and contrast the differences in living in Nicaragua verses where you live. Ask children what they are thankful for. Let them choose flip flops and decorate them with fabric, bows, flowers, or even paint.

2. Choose a favorite park or hiking trail.  Beautify it by picking up litter or anything else that would help the area.

***Skills: Work, citizenship, awareness about the environment and the earth.
 Let your children decide where they would like to "beautify." Ask how they feel in that space before and after you cleaned up. Talk about the responsibility we have to the earth.

3. Help children plan a simple bike rodeo, and invite their friends to participate.  Invite parents and grandparents to watch.
image source
*** Skills: Safety, planning, performing, teaching
Use this as an opportunity to let children "teach" bike safety, and of course have some fun. Let them learn how to plan and put on a simple program- with refreshments and all :). Point out to them that they are serving the community by learning to follow safety rules and be good examples to other kids. Also point out that not all adults know the rules of biking, and this is their opportunity to tell them! (Most of all, this will teach the kids the whys of safety and then they will be more willing to follow).

4. Write letters and/or send packages to soldiers or missionaries.
image source

***Skills: Geography, gratitude, thinking of others, patriotism
 Operation Write Home collects beautifully handmade cards for soldiers to send to their families. Moms who love to make cards or papercrafts could participate with their children in this.  Operation Write Home also has AnyHero mail for children to write to soldiers. Find out more about it HERE.

5.  Have children clean out their bedroom and donate gently used clothes and toys they've outgrown to a second hand store such as Deseret Industries of the Salvation Army.

*** Skills: organization, cleanliness,  selflessness, sacrifice
Teach them that giving our stuff is not always easy, but it can greatly benefit other people.  Learn together about organizations such as Deseret Industries or the Salvation Army. Find out why donating to organizations such as these helps others.

6. Make rice bags for Elderly people in a rest home. Deliver the rice bags and visit with the people. Or take flowers to widows in your neighborhood. 
 ***Skills: Kindness, remembering the elderly, socialization, listening, sewing
One of the greatest things for children is to realize how happy it makes Elderly people to be remembered.  They need visitors and enjoy them.  Children can learn much from Elderly people.  
Rice bags are made by sewing simple rectangles out of fabric and then stuffing them with rice. These are used as hot packs for aches and pains. Children can assist in the simple sewing and adding of rice.

7.  Have a lemonade stand, and then use money to donate to an animal shelter for cat or dog food. While there, visit the animals.

*** Skills: Entrepreneurship, caring about animals, selflessness, responsibility
Many children love animals, and this is a simple way to make a difference. This project may help the children as much as the animals :).

8. Make homemade playdough, lip gloss, or bookmarks. Let the kids take the "surprises" to school friends they haven't seen for a while, or a friend who is sick, or even mail to cousins who live far away.
image source
***Skills: Creativity, thinking about those we love, friendship, mail system, crafting
 It's good to remember that sometimes the best service is something small for people we know. These projects also help children with their own creativity.

9. Collect Pennies for Peace, and send!

***Skills: fundraising, understanding importance of education, geography, culture, value of money, gratitude, patriotism
 Talk about the importance and privilege of  education. Show your children the Pennies for Peace program, and explain that in some countries children don't get to go to school.  Talk about why we should be grateful for education and how it benefits us. Geography, gratitude, and desire for education should increase as children participate in this project.

10. Make pillowcases for cancer patients or for children in the hospital.
Find this simple pattern by Dana HERE

***Skills: empathy, learning about health, care for those who are ill, brainstorming, design, sewing
 This is a great opportunity to talk about health, and the blessings of having good health. Show pictures and find stories about children who are terminally ill, or have cancer, or other diseases and disabilities. Discuss anything else you could do to help these sick children or their families.Let children pick out the colors for the pillowcases, and let older children help sew them. Have children accompany you to deliver or mail them. 

 11. Make sack lunches and take them to a soup kitchen. Or collect food for local food bank.
***Skills: Awareness of hunger, homelessness, and poverty; service, not "judging", kindness
This project provides the opportunity to discuss hunger and homelessness. Have children think about a time when they were hungriest, and how it felt.  Have them imagine what it would be like to not know when you would be able to eat again. Show pictures of people who are hungry and homeless, and discuss how we must not judge them, but find ways to help when we can.

12. Write thank you notes and make cookies for firefighters, police men, librarians, garbage men, mail carriers, or city officials. 
Find this recipe HERE
****Skills: Learning about community, gratitude, local awareness, baking, writing
 Along with this project, talk about the importance of people who work in these ways for communities. Discuss what these people do, and why we should be thankful for their service.

13. As a family, set up a recycling system in your home.
image source
***Skills: Research, recycling, responsibility, awareness of the environment
 Research together why we should recycle and the difference in makes in the environment.

14.  Learn about recent natural disasters, practice what to do if a disaster hits. Then make emergency kits. Make one for a neighbor or a friend too.

***Skills: Preparedness, practice, empathy, resourcefulness, geography, understanding weather

15. Make birthday cards for foster kids.
 This is a great idea from Somewhat Simple. Read more about her project HERE.
*** Skills:Awareness of children who can't live with their own parents, reaching out, art, gratitude

Bonus Idea:
Chores for UNICEF. Teach your children about UNICEF. Pay them for chores, and suggest to them to donate that money.

***Skills: Awareness of global issues, responsibility, sacrifice, gratitude


Linking to:
Marvelous Mondays
Mad in Crafts
Craft-O-Maniac Monday
Not Just a Housewife Pin It

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