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Learning to Serve: 12 Ideas for Children Age 3 to 15

Academics, Elementary School, Middle School, Preschool, Service Learning

Learning to Serve: 12 Ideas for Children Age 3 to 15

Service learning is a critical part of your school’s curriculum because it incorporates real-world problems and invites students to develop solutions that can have a tremendous impact on their community. More specifically, service learning helps children:

  • Create closer ties with local organizations and the people they serve
  • Build empathy and understanding for diverse situations and people
  • Connect more closely with the school curriculum
  • Develop their creative and critical thinking skills through problem-solving for a good cause
  • Foster important leadership and team building skills through collaboration with their fellow students and community members

Rippowam Cisqua School proactively integrates service learning into our curriculum giving students exposure to “doing good” as early as PreK. However, there is no limit to kindness. As parents, you can extend the impact of your school’s community service program into your daily lives. In fact, research says that humans are hard-wired to give; that all we need to do is activate our generosity gene. Just watch this video from the Wall Street Journal to dive into the brain science of philanthropy and how to create everyday heroes.


RCS Service Learning Projects

Given the benefits philanthropy has on a personal and humanitarian level, we start to teach kindness and generosity in the preschool years. To give you some ideas, here’s a list of some of the service learning programs Rippowam Cisqua students engaged in last year. Maybe it will spark your imagination.

1. Hold a pajama drive

The All-School “Wear One, Share One” Pajama Day and Drive was spearheaded by Grades 1, 2, and 6. Children sorted packed and delivered 252 pounds of new pajamas to the Community Center of Northern Westchester (CCNW). In addition to the collection, students toured the facility to get a better understanding of why their drive was so important.

2. Hold a school supply or book drive

The third grade led students in PreK through Grade 4 in collecting 175 pounds of school supplies for the CCNW. They sorted, packed, and delivered the supplies to CCNW and decorated reusable RCS shopping bags. For Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH), third graders collected gently-used children’s books. They made bookmarks and met with NWH President Joel Seligman and Director of Volunteers Ellen Muentener to talk about the power of reading.

3. Write greeting cards

Grades 1 to 5 made over 300 Get Well cards for patients at Northern Westchester Hospital. Fifth graders also made activity bags and coloring books which they special delivered to the hospital emergency room. Similarly, seventh graders delivered 144 hand-made holiday cards for A-HOME residents.

4. Get your hands dirty

Continuing our partnership with A-Home, seventh-grade students cleaned up the property, and handcrafted 18 custom made wooden planters in the RCS Innovation Center. The planters were presented to A-HOME Property Manager Gerry Granelli. Sixth-grade students also contributed to the beautification project by planting flowers.

5. Hold a food drive

Eighth-grade students held several drives last year which included:

Through their efforts, they collected over 1,000 pounds of food and packed 580 bags of food plus they packed 150 Breakfast Bags for children and the elderly.

PreK and Kindergarten students spearheaded a food drive for CCNW and collected 333 pounds of food. They also decorated reusable RCS shopping bags, sorted, packed and delivered the food collection, and toured the CCNW facility.

6. Raise money

Sixth-grade math teachers incorporated CCNW’s Mile of Quarters fundraising campaign project in math classes for which students raised approximately $1,000. Students also held an All-School Hurricane Relief Fund which raised over $2,100 from bake sales, individual student fundraising, and simple generosity.

7. Visit patients

Students in grades 7-8 visited with patients at Blythedale Children’s Hospital and spent time with patients in the Therapeutic Recreation department.

8. Start a reading club

Students in fourth grade partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Mount Kisco to form the RCS Reading Pals program where RCS students read to first and second-grade members of the BGCNW on a weekly basis.

9. Donate your candy

The sixth grade delivered 60 pounds of Halloween candy to the Food Bank of Westchester.

10. Collect toys or diapers

Lower Campus students organized the “Get Well Soon” toy collection for the pediatric unit at NWH and also donated 100 new toys. Students in our after care program decorated large boxes to assist CCNW with their local diaper collection.

11. Donate holiday gifts

RCS families donated holiday gifts to children at CCNW and other Westchester agencies through a program called Daymaker,. Daymaker is a kid-to-kid giving platform that helps parents teach kindness and philanthropy to their children year round.

12. Go on a midnight run

Each year our ninth grade students participate in the Midnight Run. They collect clothing, blankets, and personal care items and pack meals which they deliver to the homeless in New York City. Beyond making a simple donation, students spend time engaging and gaining a critical perspective on life.


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