Service Learning Curriculum Guide
What is service learning?
As part of our curriculum at 2nd Nature Academy, our school community participates in regular service learning projects. Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich learning experiences, engage children in civic involvement, promote responsibility, and strengthen communities.
We encourage families to continue these valuable discussions at home. Over the course of a school year, parent support is enlisted to assist us in preparing for these projects by purchasing items together with your child, donating to various charities, or contributing time to help coordinate and/or participating in service experiences. In order for the children to gain from these experiences, they must learn to recognize the community need and know the intended recipient of the service. Moreover, it is critical that they have active participation in service experiences and are provided time for meaningful reflection. Together, we can form truly meaningful experiences for your child and your family, our staff, and the community.
2017-18 Service Learning Causes & Themes
As we enter a new school year, we focus on communities curriculum units and an introduction to service learning. Students will touch upon the many causes ahead of them in the academic year, as well as go into deeper discussion about the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen of our school community and beyond.
Building character is hard work. To empathize with others, we first need to understand the plights and challenges that they face. During our Water Walk, we need to take that hard work a step further and physically carry out the difficult task that children in rural Nigeria undertake each day: traveling distances to bring water home. One cannot develop character without effort, contribution, responsibility, and compassion.
Thank You Project is a local non-profit that aims to bring clean and accessible water to the people in two specific rural areas of Nigeria, Ututu and Achi. Together, the kindergarten through middle school students will work together to carry buckets of water and raise these funds.
See the 2016 Water Walk in action:
Collaboration is all about working together. This year, students will collaborate by joining forces to craft elements of a Polar Express-themed S.T.E.A.M. tree! We are even taking the concept of collaboration to the next level by having 2nd Nature Academy team up with the creative minds at The Enrichment Center and The Painted Turtle for this project. The finished product will be on display at the Hunt Memorial Building in downtown Nashua during its annual Festival of Trees. Festival visitors will be able to then purchase raffle tickets to win their favorite tree. All proceeds benefit the preservation of the Hunt Memorial Building, a Nashua historical landmark. In the past, some of the winners have gone on to pass their trees along to veterans, families in need, or patients in hospice care, continuing the spirit of giving and the power of collaboration.
The Hunt Memorial Building is a landmark historical building which served as Nashua’s library for sixty-eight years, from 1903 to 1971. Today, the Board of Trustees has endeavored to fulfill the wishes of the Hunt family's original gift, to provide a setting for the public to use and enjoy, while preserving and restoring an architectural masterpiece.
Every year, we sponsor two families, each consisting of a single mother and her children, and our community comes together to buy them Christmas gifts they otherwise would not receive. You can impact your local community in large ways by doing what might feel like a small thing, such as purchasing a gift for someone else. Marguerite's Place helps these mothers get back on their feet and become contributing members of society. The trickle down effect of investing time, energy, and money into your community, and the return on investment (whether economic or emotional), can be enormous.
Marguerite's Place is a local non-profit and "a transitional housing program for women and children in crisis."
Did you know children are the largest age group living in poverty in the United States? Sometimes it is difficult to see the struggles that others face because you are fortunate enough to take certain things for granted, such as shelter, food, sanitary products, and clothing. Children who lack these basic needs are more likely to face social ridicule, academic challenges, and have poor school attendance. Compassion allows us to see the struggles that others face and, in turn, take the action necessary to help them overcome these obstacles.
"Catie's Closet provides an in-school resource of clothing and toiletries so kids can succeed in school and in life. Today, Catie's Closets can be found in 37 schools in MA & NH."
Sometimes, all it takes to bring somebody comfort is the knowledge that you're thinking of them. Communication is key in keeping communities connected, regardless of how far apart people may be. By taking just a few minutes of our time, we are able to let men and women who are far away from home, family, and friends know that we're grateful for their service. Reaching out to our troops with words of kindness and gratitude lets them know they're not alone or forgotten: It's a simple gesture on our part and has a huge impact on others.
Each year, we try to look within our own school community connections to help us find a troop to send our Valentines to. This year, we are happy to be working with a student parent who is the local contact for A Million Thanks, an organization that sends letters to U.S. troops stationed around the world.
Humans rely on other animals for companionship, food, and service. In return, it is our responsibility to care for these wonderful beings by providing them with food, medical care, shelter, and affection. We do a lot daily to live out this responsibility at 2nd Nature Academy, through our humane education curriculum, but there are many animals in our community that are not so fortunate. By donating to an organization that works tirelessly to look after the less fortunate, we help that work continue. Taking the time to make positive, meaningful contributions and partaking in active service has the power to benefit any community, whether its populated with people or pets, and can certainly brighten any life.
The Humane Society for Greater Nashua advocates for and enhances the lives of animals entrusted to our care while educating our community to strengthen the human animal bond.
Creating new solutions to old problems is all about being... creative! This April, we are challenging each 2nd Nature Academy class to work together and think of a project or cause they may take on this month to "give back" to our Earth. Might it be a special planting? Perhaps a clean-up? Or, maybe, something completely original? Let's get together, let's get creative, and let's show our planet how much we care!
From Earth Day Network: "The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.[...] Earth Day had reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes."
This won't be the first time our students have gotten creative for Earth Day! A few years ago, some 2nd Nature Academy students hosted an Earth Day Relay. Watch below:
May: Critical thinking
By this point in the year, we have learned that doing good can be hard work! A little brain power and elbow grease can yield amazing results. To run a successful enterprise, whether it be a business, non-profit, or event, it takes a lot of critical thinking. The students engage in all aspects of running such an event, when they come together to plan, budget and purchase the supplies for, and host a hot dog sale, all with the goal to make a profit that they can then donate. After the students tally their funds from the hotdog sale, they use that money to select livestock to sponsor for impoverished, rural families around the world, to help them embetter their quality life and contribute back to their local communities.
Heifer International is a non-profit organization with the mission "to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth."
Watch a video of our first ever Hotdogs for Heifer sale, in 2012:
June: Conquer challenges
By conquering our own physical challenges in this obstacle course, we are on the run to raise money and contribute toward helping sick children conquer some serious health challenges. Toward the end of every school year, the entire community from preschool through middle school comes together to raise pledged funds for children's oncology at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. The older students help the younger ones, by buddying up, supporting and encouraging them, and tallying their successes. Together, we can overcome obstacles and give back to our community.
The Norris Cotton Cancer Center is a New Hampshire-based, comprehensive cancer center associated with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock healthcare system
In the spring of 2017, this event evolved from the previously titled "Roll-a-thon" into our first ever "Fun Run." Since it was such a runaway success, we have decided to officially change the event into an annual Fun Run! View a video our first ever Fun Run, and 6th annual event of its kind, here: