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Taking it upon themselves

Neil Aitchison will provide the entertainment at the October 8 fundraiser. [Submitted]

A simple game of playing make-believe turned into a rewarding learning opportunity for Kindergarten students at Riverside Public School.

Lisa Heldmann and Sara Sacrey’s Kindergarten class at Riverside PS raised $290 for the Canadian Cancer Society through a child-led initiative. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Lisa Heldmann and Sara Sacrey’s Kindergarten class at Riverside PS raised $290 for the Canadian Cancer Society through a child-led initiative. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
“It basically started through a child-led activity,” teacher Lisa Heldmann said. “So they were playing store and one of the little girls was like ‘oh, we want the money that we get to go to someone. We’re going to donate this money.’ And a teacher chimed in and said ‘where are you going to donate it to?’ That little girl said ‘let’s donate the money to the Canadian Cancer Society.’ At that point that child-led interest became directed by adults and said what do you know about this?”

When one student pointed out they only had pretend money, William Krubally piped up, saying they all have money in their piggy banks they could contribute.

“I asked how to do a real one,” William said. “They started it and I asked how to do a real fundraiser.”

They came up with the idea to bring in money from Monday to Friday, with nickels on Monday, dimes on Tuesday, quarters on Wednesday,  loonies on Thursday, and toonies on Friday.

“The excitement was huge. They were so excited,” Heldmann said.

They raised a total of $290. Some students got creative and raised money on their own, like Abby Lewis.

“One girl went home that night and said ‘Mom, we’ve got to bake rice krispie squares. I’ve got to sell them to raise money,’ teacher Sara Sacrey said. “On her front yard she sold rice krispie squares for an hour and a half and raised $59 on her own.”

Sydney Stover also sold lemonade and cookies on the weekend and brought the change in.

A representative from the Canadian Cancer Society visited the class last week as part of their initiative. She answered their questions and explained where their money would go.

“It made it more real for them so that they could give it to someone who actually works there, knows where their money is going to go because they just thought it would make somebody better,” Sacrey said.

They also used the kids’ interest in donating to learn more about money. They did estimating, counting by different numbers, and sorting.

“The whole idea of full-day Kindergarten is to hear what the students are interested in and go with it,” Heldmann said. “It took an activity that was very much their interest but we were able to expand upon it and we were already doing money, so we took that idea and we were able to blossom it. It was very meaningful for the kids.”

They’d also been learning about what makes them happy and what makes them sad in class. Before they started the donation project the things that made them happy were me-centered.

“It’s that community connection,” Heldmann said. “It just melts our heart these kids are so wanting to be good citizens. That’s what we’re here to teach, too.”

They also used the opportunity to start a bulletin board of people  they know who’ve had cancer, have cancer, or have passed away from cancer.

“We did spend a lot of time talking about little people can make big change too,” Heldmann said. “This is something big. You guys are making a difference in somebody’s life.”

Sacrey said the biggest thing the students took away from the experience is that they could do it themselves, a lesson in leadership.

“They said we’re going to get it from our piggy banks,” Sacrey said. “It wasn’t well we can ask our Mom and Dad for money. It was we want to do this from our piggy banks.”

When asked how they felt about donating the money, Abby replied “Excited.”

“Good,” Sydney chimed in.

“Very good,” William said.

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