Recently the Smart Cookies preschool class at Summit compared two books, A Smokey Night and A Chair for My Mother. Both books included community members who helped others in need. The children observed how the service made others feel and they wanted to do something too. As they talked more about the concept of service, there were two groups of people who the children decided they wanted to help, people who are homeless and our service men and women. The idea of sending care packages emerged as a way for the class to help both these groups.
Next, the children made a list of items they wanted to put in the bags. They thought of things that made them happy and warm when they were scared and lonely. Some of the things they thought to include were fuzzy jammies, their beds, a warm bath. While we couldn’t provide all those things, we found alternatives. One child said they had a lot of toys at their house, another child suggested books could be fun. After their teacher shared some ideas for service people care packages the children decided to add snacks and socks to the list of items they wanted to give.
As items were being collected, the children worked extra hard on writing notes of encouragement to their new friends.
After they organized and made the bags, the children invited subject matter experts to come speak and take the bags to their organizations. Mr. Jason Reed, from St. Vincent de Paul came and shared what children do in shelters and how the toys make them feel. Dr. Michael Bowe, from the National Guard spoke about what life is like in Iraq and what it means to get packages from the United States.
The children learned many skills that will help them as they get ready for kindergarten as well as they grow into compassionate adults. They were able to write letters, practice empathy, and feel the intrinsic reward of helping others. Plus, they did it all as 4 year olds!