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:
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).
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.
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.
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.