I just saw this bookmark in the Community Dog Puzzles and Dog Games which reminded me of some great ideas to involve students with local dog shelters. My older daughter is a dog trainer and volunteers at several animal shelters in Chicago. She is most interested in animal manipulatives and agility courses. In her research, she found using enrichment to enhance the psychological health of animals in shelters can help increase the numbers of dogs fit for adoption. Here are some suggestions she found--
1. Art students can make papier-mâché creations that are used to hold doggie treats. Each dog is given one of the objects and has fun trying to get the treat out of the inside. Since the objects are biodegradable, the shredded paper can be removed when the animal's cage is routinely cleaned.
2. Students can stuff paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls with treats (squeeze cheese, peanut butter, kibble, canned food, etc.) and then bunch up the ends of each tube. The animals have to manipulate the tube to get at the goods. When the cages are cleaned, the tubes can be thrown away.
3. PVC pipe can be used as imitation Kongs. Also dogs love frozen marrow bones especially on hot days. If students have their own dogs who have chewed bones filled with marrow and now have a collection of bones, these old bones can be cleaned by soaking them in water with a little bit of bleach. Then the bones are ready to be stuffed with peanut butter, frozen, and given to the dogs at the shelter.
4. Another cool idea is to put a spoon of canned food in each section of an ice cube tray and then fill the tray with water. The dogs have to manipulate the ice (or wait for it to melt) to get at the food inside. This type of enrichment creates very little burden on the caretakers because there's really no clean-up required (other than rinsing the ice cube trays and preparing them for the next round, which are things volunteers can do).
5. A project which requires a little more work and expense is making doggie meatballs. The recipe for the meatballs is located at http://www.holisticdog.org/Nutrition/Satinballs/satinballs.html. The measurements don't need to be exact. The meatballs are nutrient-rich, so they are especially good for dogs who might not be eating well at the shelter.
6. This website offers some additional, excellent enrichment ideas: http://www.aspcapro.org/mackenzies-animal-santuary-enrichment-pr.php
I would enjoy hearing what you think of students using some of these ideas for improving the quality of life of dogs in animal shelters.
Also, how have you involved your students in community service? Please share your ideas.
I am hoping to get my art club students out into the community this year by painting murals and window painting at some local businesses, if possible. There is a resurgance of the art community in attempt in my town, and I think that children should be involved, as well as adults.
Crit Lit for Kids: From Critical Consciousness to Service Learning is a great lesson plan from ReadWriteThink. There is a sample of a group of California students helping homeless students.
At my daughter's school in Arizona, they partner with a school in Mexico and learn about each others' cultures. Then the kids from Mexico come visit my daughter's school so they can meet face to face. It is a touching event.
I love raising awareness in either the dog treats or reaching out to kids in another country. How about kids design projects? Have a student contest to create/design a grocery bag for parents to purchase as a fund raiser. This idea came from a dear friend, Mrs. W., a retire teacher of 50yrs. + who volunteered EVERYDAY in my art and home ec. classes at the middle school level. She was such an example of community service!
I like your idea of the kids designing projects. Any fundraising ideas that involve the students making something to sell is always a good way to involve students in service to their school and/or community. I also like the two suggestions about Toys for Tots or Adopt a Road.
In the city where I live, we have a food storehouse for families to either buy or receive free food. That's another community service project for students because the storehouse is always looking for food donations and help distributing the food. Often the storehouse receives government surplus food which volunteers have to repackage for distribution.
I think the health related fields offer a very promising beginning with youth who are motivated to work in the community. Such issues of concern that deal with nutrition, pollution, water safety, fire safety, addictions, HIV and teenage pregnancy can become a vehicle for a developing person to implement a level of maturity on issues that concern us all in our environment. I think a political discussion, in a public library can address all forms of conflict in a forum that applies critical thinking, and input into what strategies in reaching solutions can we implement so that our future still hold promise. Such discussions may serve the purpose of taking action on what we feel we can change if we are motivated to do so. Literacy Skills are also a concern that can form a discussion in a public library, and may apply to and include both young children and adults.
Students at our school are always participating in service projects locally and nationally. Some studetns volunteer at the local Soup Kitchen. Others participate in clothing and food drives. Some of the clubs at school work together to maintain the flower gardens on the grounds surrounding our parish community. As a school, we work together to raise money for those in need through special classroom events. The two second grade classes had a penny war to see which class could bring in the most pennies. The money was taken to a local bank to be counted using a coin counting maching to see which class had collected the most money. The winning class was announced and then the money was donated to Charity. Our third grade classrooms make quilts each year with fabric squares that are embellished with scraps of other fabric and glue to represent the interests of each child in the class. A parent volunteer will sew the squares together and the quilt is displayed for Open House. At the end of the year, the students from the class purchase raffle tickets for 25 cents each and there is a drawing from the tickets to determine the winner of the quilt. The money is donated to an art supply project drive for a local program in need. The students love being able to help the community through service projects.
I love all of the projects in which your school is involving students, Zee. You are teaching your students to be come contributors to their community needs. Would that this enthusiasm be carried through all 12 years of their education.
It would be good to have students talk about this with their parents and develop a list of ways they can contribute and be participants in the choice of activities, too.
You make the point that there is more to life than the basic skills we must teach.