SNOW HILL – More than 85 students from Snow Hill Elementary School donated 18 handmade blankets to a local and national organization as part of a lesson that keeps on giving.
The blankets, made by third-grade students, found its way to non-profits Diakonia and Care Bags Foundation, a national organization that supplies children in crisis situations with age-appropriate items.
Mia Byrd, third-grade teacher and coordinator, said the unit project, entitled “Making Moments Matter,” was a way for students to incorporate school lessons into real-world applications.
From the beginning of the school year to mid-November, Byrd said students had the opportunity to read realistic fiction and write personal narratives about acts of kindness. These lessons, in addition to their math studies, were then used to make the blankets.
“As they make the blankets, they decide where they want to donate it,” she said.
Third-grade teachers started participating with Diakonia and Care Bags Foundation last year, after Byrd discovered the national organization online.
The foundation began in 2000, after 11-year-old Annie Foskett heard of the circumstances children in crisis face.
“I was trying to find a charity that was started by a kid,” Byrd said. “It shows they can do good even though they are little.”
Byrd said the students participate in projects throughout the year and added that teachers are currently in the process of preparing the next unit’s activity.
Dr. Mary Anne Cooper, principal of the elementary school, said each unit is “universal by design” and teaches students to apply what they learn.
Last year’s students learned about informational reading, and perimeter and area, according to Byrd. They then applied these lessons to decorate the town’s shop windows with Mondrian-inspired artwork.
Cooper said the projects act as an evaluation of the students and can help the teachers assess if students understood and applied reading, writing and math lessons.
“Everything is integrated in the units,” she said. “What we try to do is bring in all the multi-disciplinary connections, and the third-grade team is wonderful in that each project they try to do a service project.”
In the next unit, Byrd said teachers are working with Olde Town Candy Company to incorporate the students’ next lesson with the community business.
“We’ve got something cooking up,” Byrd said.
“With the goal of giving back to the community,” Cooper added. “That’s what makes the units so special. Kids really get that understanding of, ‘Oh, I’m doing this in school, and it’s going to help someone else.’”
Byrd said the blanket project was incorporated into the first of four units and added the students were excited to see the blankets had recently made it to the Care Bags Foundation.
“They did it all by themselves,” Byrd said. “The goal of these unit projects for us in the third grade is that we really want them to do as much of it as possible independently because we really want them to apply what they learned throughout the unit. It was all them. They owned the project.”
The two-day project eventually turned into a large-scale donation at the school’s third grade awards assembly, where students and their parents could drop off toys and clothing into a bin.
Byrd said the students donated large and small blankets and one large tub of toys and clothing.
“It was really nice to see how engaged they were and how excited they were about it,” Byrd said.