Since the appearance of COVID-19, the concept of ‘learning’ has changed significantly. Many individuals are discovering that learning can successfully take place in venues outside the traditional school building. Service Learning is one dynamic iteration of learning beyond the classroom.
Easy Ways to Make Service Learning Part of Your Distance Learning Routine
Beyond the obvious benefits to the community, Service Learning has many other pluses. It can be a powerful component of a child’s learning experience and can help students grow and mature in their relationships with themselves, others, and their community. Service Learning Projects help students develop empathy and improve problem-solving and communication skills.
Traditional Service Learning projects involve face-to-face contact and hands-on activities. Not to worry, though, as there are many opportunities to carry out useful projects that can make a positive difference in the community. Share these service-learning experiences with parents and families.
Benefits of Service Learning
Fido needs cozy blankets during his stay at the Humane Society! This is a very easy project to manage as participants can simply drop off supplies in a prearranged location while still practicing social distancing. Shelters are usually not picky about donations but do require that blankets and/or towels be clean. There is virtually no cost to this type of project, as participants are simply donating items from home.
Animal Shelter Blanket/Towel Drive
Easy to make, popular, and oh-so-cozy, tie blankets can be easily customized by choosing among colorful patterned fleece. The material is widely available at fabric and craft stores, and simple directions are plentiful online. The cost for a blanket, depending on size, starts around $20 and goes up from there. A fun project to do with a small group, in times of social distancing, it can easily be done by an individual as well.
Make Tie Blankets to Donate to Hospitals
Many people, including health care workers, are reporting to work daily during the pandemic. There are guidelines from the CDC on making masks that your students can follow even if they have no sewing knowledge or limited materials at home. If you have local organizations in need of masks, share those with your students and how they may donate while still practicing safe social distancing.
Make Masks to Donate to Hospitals and Essential Workers
Nursing home residents struggle with loneliness during the best of times. In periods of social distancing, it’s even worse. Many have restricted visitations and are unable to see friends and family. Brightening their day is easy by simply sending off an email or writing an old-fashioned letter or card. Really want to dazzle them? Include student artwork! Nothing brightens up a wall like a bright and colorful work of art by a student artist. There is no cost beyond postage (or free with email), and letter writing is the perfect thing to do during times of isolation.
The older portion of our population has amazing stories to tell, stories that will soon be lost. By showing interest and investing a little time and patience, we can capture those stories forever. Looking for inspiration? Check out StoryCorps, which is dedicated to making connections and collecting and preserving the stories of our society. There is little to no cost to an oral history project like this one, and, depending on the age of the participant, it can be managed remotely via Zoom, FaceTime, or similar technology. Participants could even record their stories and have them transcribed by student volunteers.
Curricular and life skill connections are plentiful throughout Service Learning projects: literacy, writing, social skills, responsibility, empathy, and more. Through Service Learning, students can make valuable, authentic connections with their communities while creating positive change.
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