Community service projects are a great way to encourage students to think about the world around them. Finding a project that children and their parents can get behind and support over the course of a few months or the entire school year is the key. If you are considering adding a service project to next year’s class, take a look at the ideas that follow. They are perfect for students in grades K through 12 and vary in their levels of involvement and preparation throughout the year.
Community Service Projects for Kids
1. Book Drive
Collect books throughout the year to donate to local homeless shelters, children’s hospitals, and more. Allyson W.’s kindergarten class did something a bit different with their book drive though. “This year our kindergarten class sponsored a used book drive. We collected used books and then resold them for under $1…most were 25 cents. We then Paid it Forward to our 5th grade class so they could go on their field trip to Washington, DC,” she says.
2. Cards for Soldiers
Writing cards to servicemen and women overseas during the holidays (and throughout the year) is a great way to support our troops while also giving you an opening for talking about history, social studies, geography, and more.
3. Penny Drive
Find a penny pick it up, all year long you’ll save enough! Host a penny drive throughout the year using large water cooler jugs to hold the pennies. At the end of the year, donate the money to a charity that your students agree on. You might also want to check out the Penny Harvest website for some ideas about what to do with those pennies.
4. For the Dogs (and Cats!)
Local animal shelters and rescue groups are always in need of newspapers, old towels and blankets, and pet food donations. Make your classroom a collection hub for such things and deliver them to the shelter once a month (or week!) depending on the amount of donations.
5. Host a Walk
If you want a more involved project, start early in the fall and work with your older students to coordinate a charity walk at the local high school’s track. Not only does it encourage students to support a cause, it also gives them a great opportunity to learn while managing the many details of such an event.
6. “Birthday Boxes”
Kimberly L. says, “We have done what we call ‘Birthday Boxes.’ We put cake mix, frosting, candles, as well as, a few toys [in a box]. Then we donate them to a local food pantry for those families in need of a birthday cake We use plain white boxes (ask a bakery [if] they could donate some). We let the kids decorate them with coloring, stickers, or even the fronts of old cards. It makes them feel good to give back for a child’s birthday.”
7. Recycle for a Cause
Recycling is not only good for the environment, it is also good for the soul. Teacher Robbin H. says, “My class collects aluminum cans throughout the year. I take the cans to a recycling place where they give me money for them, and I donate the money in my class’s name to the Humane Society of my county. The students love helping the animals, and I teach them that they are also helping the planet. My students go home and teach, and remind, their parents to recycle. We recycle everything we can, but the aluminum in the one thing we can get money for.”
8. Spend Time with Seniors
Many seniors love spending time with children and children love spending time with them. Pilar R.’s class has the full experience. “Singing, playing recorder, playing BINGO, dancing, writing letters, doing any sort of art with seniors at a nursing home [is what we do]. The seniors love them, and my students love the seniors!”
9. Draw a Picture
Servicemen and women overseas are not the only ones who need to be remembered. Kiersten S. has her students focus on the ones at home. “We write/draw pictures for the veterans at the VA hospital,” she says.
10. Random Acts of Kindness
“We did Random Acts of Kindness,” explains Tiffany S. “I teach kindergarten and they LOVED it. We read books about it, and there is an AWESOME video on YouTube. It helped explain it to my kids totally. We talked about keeping it a secret from the other kids and the other teachers. We got the parents in on it and it took off from there. We took bags of pencils, kisses, suckers, crayons and more to the classrooms and we hung them on the door with a sticker on it. The kids said that we were, “Super Sneaky Secret Spies.” We started the “missions” in March and we have been doing them sporadically since then. They are still asking to go on them! I also took little treats and left them in the teachers’ lounge…we had a blast with it. We will do it again next year!”
11. Adopt an Animal
Micca W.’s class adopted an animal with their collected funds. “My class collected pennies and change during a science unit about animals and habitats. Then we adopted a polar bear from [the World Wildlife Foundation] they sent us a stuffed bear and each kid took turns taking him home-dressing him-and writing about his adventures with them at their house! It was a project that ended up lasting [for] awhile but it was fun!”
12. Comfort Animals
“During fire prevention week, we collected gently used or new stuffed animals for the fire department to distribute to scared kids when fire or first responders went on a call to the kids home,” Bambi D. says.
What service projects do you do with your class? Share your ideas in the comments below or on the Really Good Teacher forums!