In planning the service-learning experience, teachers wanted to select a project the school’s youngest children could relate to. Since animals are a frequent topic of conversation and discussion in Pre-Primary classrooms, collecting old stuffed animals, corks, and towels to donate to the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) seemed like a perfect fit. During the weeks they collected items for WARL, children learned about taking care of animals, what veterinarians do, the role shelters play when pets don’t have homes, and how the donations would help animals in need. When the dramatic play area turned into a veterinarian’s office, the teachers knew the children had been inspired!Primary School—1st Grade PetConnect Project
Middle School—8th Grade Trip to Costa Rica
For the “Art for Pets” service-learning project, the 1st graders create pet portraits of animals up for adoption. Students sell their artwork to raise money to donate to the non-profit organization, PetConnect Rescue, Inc. The rescue saves animals from kill shelters and places the animals in foster homes until forever homes are found. The student study artists such as Albrecht Durer and Andy Warhol to guide them in their compositions. They use a variety of artistic techniques in their work such as repetition, layering, texturizing and perspective. Through this process, 1st graders see multiple ways a pet portrait can come alive with creative expression. During the exhibit’s opening fundraiser, the atmosphere is energized as children show their friends and families their artworks and contributions to the project.
The trip to Costa Rica is the capstone experience in our service-learning program. Eighth graders stay with families in a rural Costa Rican village and collaborate with the local community on several projects that promote sustainability, including the construction of biochar stoves. The projects draw on knowledge and skills 8th graders have acquired at Lowell and also extend students’ learning. By living in and working with the community, students improve their Spanish, learn about Costa Rican culture, and learn more about the application of sustainable practices.