Ornaments for Nursing Home Tree
Fairbrook Elementary School
At Fairbrook, this lesson is one of our DEN meeting activities. DENS (developing, educating and nurturing students) are our cross-grade-level community meetings held twice a month and led by our fifth graders. The last den each November is dedicated to helping our business partner, Trinity Nursing Home, by creating ornaments for their tree. This den, advisory, or classroom activity becomes a service project.
• Students will be involved in meaningful moral action.
• Students will develop self-motivation and feel good about helping others.
• Ornament packets (one packet for each two students with beads and pipe cleaner organized in bag ready to make one ornament – or alternative supplies for making ornaments or decorations)
• Paper plates
1. The teacher reviews relevant core values with the students and introduces the activity. For example: “November’s life skill is citizenship and December’s is caring. Being a good citizen who cares means doing what you can to help others. Today we are going to learn about one way you can do community service in your community. We are going to help the residents of ___________ by making ornaments for their holiday tree. ____________ will take the ornaments there and decorate the tree.”
2. The teacher then explains how to create the ornament and breaks the students into pairs to begin working. For example: “Now for a demo and hints on how to create the ornament. Make sure you turn under one end of the pipe cleaner before you start putting the beads on. This will keep the beads from falling off. Try to create a pattern with the beads. One partner should put the beads on the pipe cleaner while the other one creates the pattern. You can switch jobs so each person has a chance to bead. Leave enough room to create a hook at the end of the ornament (for hanging on the tree). You do not have to use all of the beads in the bag. You can make the ornament straight, a curly cue suing a pencil or a wreath by connecting the ends of the pipe cleaner. Use your imagination. Now we will put you with a partner and then you may create your ornaments. Use your imagination!”
The best assessment is the actual visit to your local nursing home and seeing the finished project and the smiles of the residents and children. Students might also sing for or visit with the residents. Have students reflect on their service project with drawings or journal writings. Involve families by having them visit the nursing home to see the tree.
The complexity of the ornaments can be adjusted based on the age and ability of the students as well as the time and materials available. Students might also work with older buddies on the project.
Staff at Fairbrook Elementary, a 2007 National School of Character, developed this activity.