Village School

Becoming Big...

By Amilia, Village Parent

In December, amidst the frenzy of the holiday season and the wind-down (or, more accurately, wind-up) to Winter Break, Teacher Chris’ second grade class took some time to reflect on what giving back truly means. The Surfin’ Second Graders took a field trip to Toys for Tots, an organization that collects and delivers gifts during the holiday season to community children in need.

This outing fit nicely with the November/December Cornerstone theme of “Impact”. As part of the ABC reading program, all classrooms at Village read the book, Big by Coleen Paratore. This book discusses how to be a ‘big’ person, with ‘big’ defined not by size but by one’s perception of and interaction with the world at large. The author defines ‘big’ as being bright and imaginative, healthy, kind and helpful, friendly and valuable members of society.

Building on this theme, the Surfin’ Second Grade’s ABC Reader discussed with the class “ways to be active citizens to improve the world by committing to daily acts of caring and outreach in our community with acts of service.”

“Volunteering and service are powerful ways to build assets,” she explained to parents in a lovely follow-up email to her ABC lesson. “The research shows that service is powerful in helping kids succeed in all areas of life – health, friendships, school and self-esteem.”

As a lead-up to the field trip, Teacher Chris explained to students what the program is about, and how their volunteer service would help so many in our community, including children and families affected by the Bay Area fires. As one might expect, everybody was excited to be able to help others in a very hands-on way.

On the day-of, in a touching role-reversal from traditional Christmas order, students played the part of Santa, delivering gifts donated by their families to the Toys for Tots warehouse. Their excitement to “give” was heartfelt and a valuable lesson in and of itself. While at the warehouse, they helped the Marines who run the program sort gifts by age and gender. The field trip also offered opportunities for math practice (counting and tracking the number of gifts they sorted, estimating the total number, etc.), deduction and reasoning (determining how to categorize/sort each gift – girl/boy, age range), reading (category signs, gift box descriptions) and teamwork.

Finally, as a reward for all of their hard work, students were treated to a rare opportunity to explore and climb on an ENORMOUS marine transport truck. Even Teacher Chris was enthralled!

Our children are blessed to have so many opportunities at Village – from the fall Second Harvest Food Drive to the holiday Family Giving Tree program to the Stop Hunger Now initiative – to give back to the community and to extend their impact beyond the boundaries of our little school and into our global Village. I can’t think of a better way for them to grow 'big'!