By Tara Cavanaugh
After a superstorm ripped through the East Coast in October, people from all over the country sent their support in the form of money, care packages and supplies.Two kindergarten classes at Mitchell also sent their support to kindergarteners at Achievement First Endeavor Elementary in Brooklyn.
The classes decided they wanted to help the kids feel better, because they must have felt very scared during and after the hurricane and storm. So they first made worry dolls.
“They can put them under their pillow at night, and tell them all of their worries,” explained Grace, a student in Patty Koutoulas’ class.
The Brooklyn kindergarteners can also read the stories to learn how the Mitchell students coped in scary situations.
Julian sent a story about the time he was scared to go on an airplane. His mom brought him his favorite treat, gummy bears, so he felt better. In Ethan’s story, he realized that distracting himself with his toys was a good way to feel better when there was a tornado outside. And Shawn just told himself to be brave when he felt scared –– and it worked.
Through the three-week project, “we realized we’ve all felt scared before,” said Koutoulas. “We also realized we had many ways to feel better,” said Lisa Thompson. “Some of you cuddled up with a family member, some of you distracted yourself with toys and forgot to be scared, some of you ate candy or a food you liked.”
Writing the stories was part of a writing program Mitchell created with the University of Michigan. Mitchell, Scarlett Middle School and U-M are joined together in a teaching and learning collaborative partnership. The writing program is focused on creating authentic writing and reading activities for kindergarteners and first graders. Mitchell teachers and U-M researchers designed writing units that focus on dramatic, narrative, persuasive and research writing.
“I can honestly say that I have never seen kids so committed to their writing for so long as our kids have been with this project,” said Thompson. “We really listened to them and let them guide the project.”