Packed With a Lot of Love

Picture books pack a lot of possibility into deceptively simple packages, and in the MAC class we’ve discovered that within those pages we can learn a lot about ourselves, about the world, about ways to help others, and create new opportunities for learning.


One Hen by Katie Smith Milway was that kind of catalyst for us this year. We immediately connected to Kojo, a boy from Ghana, because of our knowledge and affection for Ghana in western Africa through Ms. Boyesen’s travels and efforts there.  As Kojo (based on a true story) told his story of how a small loan enabled him to buy a hen, which led to more hens, which led to a business that employed others in his community, that led to continued success, we became interested in how we might help our community through the micro loan process.

It’s sometimes too easy in our community to ask parents to make donations towards ideas like a micro loan, so, as teachers, we thought carefully about how students could take action to raise money to fund a micro loan.  And the sachet project was born.

But before we could dive headlong into sewing and selling, we reminded students that they would need to write a proposal to our principal, Ms. Parker, to ask for permission to take on such an endeavor.  Collaborative writing can be time consuming, but is also a great learning experience. After wrestling with the collaboration, the class wrote this letter:
microloan proposal

A well-written response from your Principal is also a powerful tool for learning. As a class, we read and discussed what was powerful about her response to our request (hence the highlights).

letter from ms parker

As the students will share in their upcoming digital stories about our project, some thought the sewing was quite challenging and others came with prior experience, allowing them to become mentors others.  And what we noticed, as adults in the room, was the way opportunities to iterate––making more than one sachet, learning by doing, and helping others as they became more adept––allowed students to gain confidence, created reasons for collaborative effort, and filled the room with purpose and urgency.  We sewed, stuffed, and tied 259 sweet smelling lavender sachets to sell to our local school community in our fund raising effort.

We finished each sachet with a tiny personal touch…a small tag stating the age of the student who sewed the sachet and a symbol of the love sewed into each lavender-filled packet.


Students prepared for the sachet sale by announcing the project in each classroom at our School.  With the help of MAC moms and dads, the sale began on a Monday morning before school.

sachet sign

In only two days, all 259 sachets were sold!  With the help of a couple of small donations, we reached our goal of raising $400.00 to donate through KIVA San Diego to fund a micro loan for a deserving entrepreneur in our community.

basket of sachets

Throughout the project, students learned valuable communication and problem solving skills.  They learned to sew, to speak publicly, to handle money and make change, and the value of taking action to contribute to solutions to problems in our own community.

Picture books are not just for children…and taking action to solve problems is not just for adults.  When we work together we can accomplish so much and truly make our world just a little bit better for someone else.

Adding Our Own Ending…

Writing a new ending to an existing story can be fun and challenging! When Stone Fox, a riveting, sad, yet heartwarming story ended abruptly, students in Book Clubs each wrote their own next sentence, (and next and next…) When they shared their sentences aloud, we realized that everyone had included great ideas and captivating story elements, but none of us is as powerful as the whole, so we decided to weave 16 students’ literary ideas together (no small feat!). Here’s our own ending to John Reynolds Gardiner’s beloved classic, Stone Fox:

Stone Fox, Chapter 11 (By Book Clubs)

Cheers came from all directions!

Everyone was shocked by what both Little Willy and Stone Fox had done. Little Willy, though tears streamed down his face, had never felt so proud!

Doc Smith walked up to Little Willy crying. She was holding the $500 prize money.

“She was a good dog. She was a good dog,” Doc Smith said, wiping away the tears.

Little Willy slowly took the money, counted it, and swam through the crowd to Clifford Snyder. Little Willy handed the money to Mr. Snyder, feeling overjoyed. Little Willy wanted to go check on Grandfather…

He rushed to the Farmhouse, carrying Searchlight in his arms. When little Willy arrived bursting through the door, Grandfather came out of his room playing a cheerful tune on his harmonica. As soon as they made eye contact, Little Willy burst into tears of joy,

“Grandfather! I did it!”

“Did you win the $500?” Grandfather asked. Little Willy hugged Grandfather.

It had been hours since the win, and Little Willy was surprised that no one had come to see him. But outside, Willy heard noises. Noises of people busily talking.

“Shhhhh!” And then someone knocked on the door. There was Lester, Stone Fox, Clifford Snyder, Dusty the Drunk, Doc Smith, and Mayor Smiley all holding a small, black Samoyed with white paws, his little black tail wagging. His name was Snowshoes.

After that, Little Willy did save the farm and Grandfather by paying the taxes with his win. The following year, the potatoes grew bigger than ever.

Searchlight was buried at the finish line with all of her admirers watching, including Stone Fox. And some even thought they saw a tear roll down his stony cheek.


Thank you, John Reynolds Gardiner! We loved your story! Hope you don’t mind us adding to it. ~ Book Clubs