Service-Learning in early childhood often just means getting them out there. For students to be truly engaged they need to first be cognizant of their community. They need to know how it works. That's why we visited our Fire Station back in October. Our was a step toward them understanding the needs of the community we live in and a step toward the students becoming engaged in the future.
A few days ago I posted about our hike up Caves Crater. We had been learning about animals during this trip and the children decided they wanted to participate in two acts of service on the hike. First, they wanted to make sure there was food for the animals through the tough high-desert winter conditions. So we made pine cone bird feeders and hung them around the forest.
The next Service-Learning activity we engaged in involved the concern students had for animals and the litter they would encounter in their environment. I asked the students why it mattered and here are some of the responses that came from our planning conversation:
"They don't know what it is and could get scared if they see it"
"They might think it's food and eat it and it would make them sick"
"It makes their homes dirty, they live in the grass and trees"
On our trip to the Summit we played a good amount, but we had other goals besides reaching the top. We planned to feed the birds and clean up their homes and that's what we did on our climb up. When we saw trash, any play would halt as one child would announce to the rest "I see garbage!". They would all rush over, call me to bring the bag and we would pick it up.
"Roger, I see garbage on the moon", "Copy that, let's fly over and pick it up!". How much more meaningful can play get?