Thursday, October 25, 2007

Charitable Spirits: Community Service in the Montessori Classroom

woman smiling san diego wildfires NAMC montessori community service charity“And a Little Child Shall Lead Them”

The most beautiful thing happened in my Montessori classroom today. I called everyone to morning circle and after we had taken roll call, gone over the date and time, read the journal topic, and reported the weather, I decided to do a little geography check. I started by telling the children that I’d been terribly worried about my sister and her husband. They live in San Diego and were evacuated from their home on Monday due to the wildfires. They spent two days wondering if they had a home to return to. I assured the children that they were safe and back home.

I asked if anyone could show me where California is located on the big map that hangs on the classroom wall. I then showed them the distance from Raleigh, North Carolina to San Diego, California. The children wanted to know what started the fires. This led to a discussion on comparing the current drought conditions in the southeast and southwest regions of the United States. We talked about how the high Santa Ana winds had blown sparks and embers far and wide, spreading the fire and starting new ones. When I had finished, one second grade boy raised his hand. Hesitantly I called on him, not knowing what was on his mind. What he said brought tears to my eyes and renewed my faith in the kindness of children.

“Miss Michelle, I’d like to do something to help those people who don’t have any homes to return to. Maybe we could raise money to send to them so they can build new houses.”

Charitable Spirits: Community Service in the Montessori Classroom


Immediately, all 30 of my students agreed that we should do something to help the victims of the wildfires. I told them that was a wonderful idea and my assistant and I would help them figure out what we could do.
While the children were at art class, I went to the American Red Cross website and several others, looking for ideas. Because our middle school already has a bake sale every week to raise money for their field trips and another classroom was selling books to fundraise, we needed to do something different. We decided to collect personal care items to send to California.

I went to our executive director and the director of the Children’s House and relayed the story to them. They were both very moved and readily agreed to allow us to sponsor this as a school-wide fundraiser.
When the children returned to our Montessori classroom after art class, they were very excited to hear that we’d been working on this while they were gone. They thought this was a great idea and were eager to get started. Tomorrow, they will be making 30 posters to hang throughout our Montessori school as reminders. I will be looking for a Montessori school in California who will be willing to help distribute our donations to those in need. I’ve sent an email to our parents asking for their help as well.

I also interviewed the young boy who came up with the idea for our school newsletter. He was “tickled” when I pretended to be a reporter from a newspaper and was so proud of himself for having had the idea to help those in need. (His name has been replaced here to protect his identity).

B-6 Student Wants to Help California Wildfire Victims

After a brief geography lesson on the location of California and the devastation of the current wildfires, a B-6 second grader declared that he’d like to raise money to help the families who have lost their homes. After some research, it was decided that B-6 would sponsor a school-wide personal care item drive. Teacher Michelle Irinyi interviewed him about his idea.

Miss Michelle: “Can you tell me how you came up with the idea to help the people in California?”

Student: “I wanted to help because people lost their homes and they would be very sad that they lost their homes. Since C-16 is selling books to help the school today, I thought it would be a good idea to raise money [have a fundraiser] for the people in California.”

Miss Michelle: “Is this the first time you’ve organized a fundraiser?”

Student: “Yes.”

Miss Michelle: “What is your hope for the fundraiser?”

Student: “I hope they’ll be able to use the items we send while they are trying to build new homes.”

As the interview concluded, a first grade student walked by and commented, “Hey, nice plan!”
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, October 25, 2007.

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