Little Learners; Huge Hearts

By Mrs. Rogers, Bearspaw Schoool Grade 1/2 Teacher

— My class of first and second graders was learning all about WATER in Science class! We explored the different properties of water, skyped a scientist to learn about why water is so fundamental to life, and ventured out (while staying in) on virtual field trips. We were busy asking questions and conducting experiments to find the answers to our watery questions. Eventually, our exploration of water turned to understanding water scarcity.

I shared videos and stories with my students about what daily life is like for kids, just like them, in other parts of the world—how different it is when access to water is limited or when the water itself is unsafe. Students learned about the challenges people in our global community face every day. They began to understand how lacking access to this vital resource can erode someone’s quality of life drastically. Seeing young kids walking hours a day to collect dirty water left my students so disheartened.

These little learners have such huge hearts, and you could feel them ache. It was palpable.

To lift their spirits and give them hope, I showed them how charities, like Change for Children, are dedicated to solving these types of issues by providing potable water systems for drought-stricken communities in northern Nicaragua.

The very next day a little boy in my class brought in 30 cents from his piggy bank. He proudly said, “this is to help the kids get water.” I quickly grabbed an empty jar from under the sink and declared it to be our “classroom donation jar.” To my surprise, the next day a few more students brought in more change from their piggy banks. Students began doing chores around their house and proudly marching into class with their donations in hand. Their enthusiasm was heartwarming and so inspiring! I was hesitant to organize a fundraiser due COVID-19 restrictions, but the passion these students displayed was undeniable. We began brainstorming
fundraising ideas.

Although our options were so limited, we eventually settled on something simple — a school spirit day! We declared February 5th to be “Hat Day.” To participate, students had to bring in a donation. The students went to work decorating donation buckets (repurposed yogurt containers) with important facts about water scarcity and information about Hat Day. Each morning leading up to Hat Day, we would play a student cheer or message on the morning announcements to bring awareness to their cause. Their little voices were so sweet and some of them were pretty catchy too:

“Bring a dollar, wear a hat, you can do it just like that!”

As Hat Day approached, the students were nervous. They were so scared that no one in our school would participate, that they wouldn’t be able to raise any money, and that they wouldn’t be able to help. I reassured them that I would support them and that even a small donation would make a difference. As a class we decided that it would be better to try our best and raise a small amount of money than do nothing at all.

When Hat Day arrived, the energy in our classroom was bubbling over with excitement. Each time a donation bucket was delivered to our classroom, the students went berserk! They were responsible for sorting, counting, and rolling all the donations the following week during math class. When we finally tallied up the numbers, we discovered that we raised over $1,800. The kids couldn’t quite believe it, and neither could I, to be honest! Fortunately, our school community was so generous and supportive of our efforts.

These first and second grade students felt so proud and so empowered. Seeing them through this fundraising journey to bring about positive change was a privilege and so uplifting during such a challenging year.

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