Make a Difference Day (the fourth Saturday in October) is a great opportunity to explore community service with your students. Check out these ten activity ideas that you can use with any age level.
Make a Difference Day is an annual reminder of how each of us can help out in our communities. The event is held each year on the fourth Saturday in October, but you can easily commemorate it in your classroom during the weeks before and after, or implement these wholesome service projects any time at all! Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to get your students involved this year. The projects connect easily with curriculum areas such as art, science or language arts, and can be adapted for most age levels. Have fun, and make a difference in your community this year!
Choose your favorite water-resistant media and turn the group loose with plain white paper or generic white placemats. Have the students decorate the placemats over the course of several days or weeks, and then donate the masterpieces to your local senior center, nursing home, church or charitable group to brighten up their upcoming holiday dinners.
Make Coupon Books
This common parent present can also be a great idea for Make a Difference Day.Brainstorm a list of chores or services that young people can do, then create a book of coupons for those services.These can be directed at families, grandparents, senior citizens or any other group that will benefit from your kindness and energy.
Make posters, centerpieces, door hangers, or other sharable art to donate to care facilities or persons in need of companionship.
Create Lollipop Centerpieces
Pick up some inexpensive small flowerpots, Styrofoam, fabric remnants, and wrapped candies on sticks. Cut circles of fabric and wrap the candies, then arrange them in the flowerpots supported by the foam. The end result will be an edible arrangement of sweet treats that will brighten offices or homes when you give them away.
Make Thank You Cards
Brainstorm a list of persons who provide services to your school or community, and create personalized thank you cards to show your appreciation for these people and their work. Ideas include the school secretary and custodian, police and firefighters, hospital workers, crossing guards and anyone else who gives time and energy to make the world a better place.
Plant Fall Bulbs
In many areas, this is the right time of year to plan for spring by planting flowering bulbs such as tulips, crocuses, and daffodils.Check with property owners for permission, then take a walking field trip to plant some beauty around buildings, trees, or sidewalks.
Produce a Video
Put the group to work planning, writing, preparing and performing a production, then use a digital camera to record video footage.Transfer your work to CD using common computer software and then donate the CD to a residential care facility or a classroom with younger students.
Keep a Log
The weeks around Make a Difference Day are a great time to explore the concept of Random Acts of Kindness.These micro-good-deeds can really brighten up communities, and your students can create a Random Acts of Kindness cascade if the idea spreads to others.Encourage some gentle competition or self-monitoring by having students keep a log of RAKs that they complete each day or week.
Pot Some Plants
Many flowering plants will grow well in small pots even indoors in the wintertime.Start an extended science project as you take care of the bits of greenery, then donate the mature plants to care facilities, offices, or hospitals.Tie in career information by inviting a horticultural speaker to visit your classroom.
Read to Friends
Even the youngest students can make a difference by reading or reciting to others.Share books, poetry, or stories and brighten the days of other students, lonely adults, or the disabled.If you cannot arrange to go anywhere to offer your gift, make sound recordings to give away.
Celebrating Make a Difference Day is a super start to build community awareness and an attitude of service, but it really can be a year-round commitment.Service to others in our community makes the world a better place and benefits each of us in very real ways.Give it a try!