Kid Activities
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Community Service: Middle and High School Kids

July 16, 2009 02:47 by Barbara Shelby


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When looking for activities to do with older youth, hopefully Community Service will be at the top of the list!

Working together, kids learn to solve problems and make decisions and successfully contribute to their community. They connect local concerns with global issues and gain an awareness of others. All this will serve them now and years later as they transition out of school and into the adult world!




A VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES for older youth...

  • Set up a Help-O-Meter to keep track of the number of hours youth in your program volunteer.

  • Make a gift for the secretary of a non-profit organization.

  • Take photos during an event and donate them to the event organizers.

  • Design a campaign to promote tolerance and understanding of differences.

  • Volunteer at a health fair.

  • Volunteer as a counselor at local summer camp.

  • Volunteer to do office work at a local non-profit agency.

  • Volunteer to lead a club or share a talent by teaching a class for younger kids.

  • Run or walk in a charity race with friends.

  • Volunteer to help at charity auctions.

  • Take a life saving class.

  • Create a play that teaches young children how to stay safe at home.

  • If you're good at fixing bikes, volunteer to teach others how to fix their bikes.

  • Organize a drug free pledge campaign. CONSIDER ADAPTING THIS TO YOUR PROGRAMS...



Pet Therapy is a great project for brightening the day of nursing home residents who may not get much company. Set up a visit with your local nursing home and simply take your pets along for the residents to enjoy. It offers them some great company and a cuddly, affectionate cat, dog or other friendly animal to pet.


 What can Middle and High School youth do for Homeless Shelters?

  • Assist in a shelter day-care room - taking care of children while parents look for jobs. 
  • Make first aid kits for homeless shelters. 
  •  Set up a Saturday Reading Hour where you visit a homeless shelter once a month, bringing books to share and leave behind
  • Help cook and/or serve a meal at homeless shelter. 
  • Gather clothing from your neighbors and donate it to a local shelter. 
  • Make "I Care" kits with combs, toothbrushes, shampoo, etc. for homeless people. 
  • Make a care package with mittens, socks, T-shirts, etc. for a child at a homeless shelter. 
  • Clip coupons and give them at your local food pantry or homeless shelter. 
  • Pack and hand out food at a food bank. 
  • Organize a neighborhood group to plant, tend and harvest a vegetable garden; donate the produce to a food bank. 
  • Sponsor a food drive at your school or parent's workplace or business. 
  • Bake a batch of cookies and deliver them to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. 
  • Raid your closet and attic to find toys and clothes to donate to a homeless shelter. 
  • Assist with sorting and organizing items donated to a homeless shelter. .....Assist in a shelter day-care room, taking care of children while parents look for jobs. 
  • Collect items to deliver to homeless shelters (blankets, sheets, towels, toys, books, disposable diapers.) 
  • Become a Big Buddy for one or more of the children at the homeless shelter.



Too old for child care and too young to work! When youth "age out" of a school-age care summer program, these 13-15 year olds may be left home alone for the long summer days. One win-win solution: create a YOUTH VOLUNTEER STAFF PROGRAM that offers a safe, familiar place where teens can offer assistance while working alongside their friends.

The AppleCorps program, a program for 13-15 year olds created by the Applewood Learning Center in New Hampshire, is profiled in the March/April 2008 issue of Exchange Magazine.

Created during a campaign to make the center more family friendly, teens volunteer in the program and parents/families pay a minimal fee to cover the cost of uniform shirts. Youth must complete a written application, attend an orientation session, meet with the Head Teachers and agree to be assigned to a classroom without their friends so that their primary focus is on the children. Teen responsibilities include reading to children, participating in activities, comforting upset children, preparing snacks, organizing library spaces and emptying recycling bins.

An office was created for the AppleCorps volunteers where they can take breaks and organize their work. Youth also participate in center-wide jobs in the afternoon so that they can "hang out" together.

Volunteer opportunities at the program have now expanded to include GrandApples for grandparents of enrolled children.
From schoolagenote of the day...May 12-08


Remember...ALL IDEAS IN THE Community Service Project Ideas for all Ages!  CATEGORY-- ARE GREAT FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL!  Be sure to check it out!


 MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL: Ideas from 'Real Programs'

  1.) A Service-Learning Project Example: Mentoring/Tutoring

School is an introduction to the greater world in so many ways, including how to bridge age and cultural differences. One group of 7th and 8th graders collaborated with 1st graders in an ongoing, multi-faceted project to do just that.

Following a comprehensive training on communication, tutoring, and group work, the 7th and 8th graders began to work extensively with 1st graders in their district. The older students studied a variety of world cultures, then designed and facilitated presentations and activities for the younger students during such observations as Asian New Year, Cinco de Mayo, and Earth Day.

For their part, the 1st graders learned numbers and basic greetings in several languages and taught these to the older students. Both groups also participated in longer term efforts such as peer tutoring.

As they progressed through their project, all the students involved worked to develop and maintain a resource file. They stored copies of their research, activity plans, and contacts from which community members could draw. Adapted from Route to Reform: K-8 service-learning Curriculum Ideas, © 1994-95 National Youth Leadership Council.


A Service-Learning Project -Apropriate for Grades: 6 to 12
Took place in the State of Minnesota

Acceptance is key in the fight against HIV and AIDS. One group realized this after reading a book about pandemics and society's negative views of the infected. The students formed groups to determine ways of counteracting harassment within their school. The strategies they developed and executed included public service announcements, policy meetings with school officials, a proposal for "safe school guidelines," and a teach-in featuring music and poetry about tolerance among teens.

Post-service reflection included the students writing and conducting a survey to learn whether their efforts were effective.
Adapted from "The Complete Guide to Service-Learning," Copyright 2004 Cathryn Berger Kaye.


FREE OIL CHANGES...(This could be a project involving the entire school and facilitated by the out-of-school time program!)
Students of Delton-Kellogg High School (DKHS) in Michigan have been working together to serve their community---particularly the low-income residents, with needed car maintenance and free oil changes.


An estimated 300+ students were involved in this service-learning project to provide 50 free oil changes to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it. More experienced students from the auto-shop class paired up with first year students, under the supervision of the instructor to change oil, replace oil filters, top-off fluids and make referrals for any additional car maintenance.

 National Honor Society students  helped screen potential recipients and record the necessary information so appointments can be made. Other student volunteers were on hand to help entertain younger kids and keep them away from dangerous tools and chemicals.

Business class students helped in contacting local area businesses to solicit donated items such as car-care merchandise and food-related items that can be given to customers. Journalism students were involved in pre-event and post-event article writing and contact newspapers.


A Service-Learning Project
Appropriate  to Grade 12
Types of Project: Environmental
Took place in State of Michigan

A celebration of Earth Day became a sustained commitment to caring for a rainforest.
To better understand tropical plants and their connections with society, the youth did research in small groups, then drew or constructed models of plants, transforming their room into a model rain forest. During their research, the students discovered they could adopt acres of the real rain forest to help preserve it, and calculated how much money they needed to do this.

The students maintained their obligation to the environment in their fund-raising efforts. They created and presented, to parents and other classes, a program on dangers facing rain forests. They charged each person who attended an empty pop can, which they recycled for money to purchase sections of rain forest.

As a follow-up to their presentation, the students wrote, illustrated, and bound their own story books about rain forests. They donated the books to local doctors' offices, schools, and libraries so that the community could continue to learn about this important resource.

Adapted from "Route to Reform: K-8 service-learning Curriculum Ideas," © 1994-95 National Youth Leadership Council.


Grades: 6-8
Took Place in Massachusetts

This would be a great 'Service' activity for a classroom or middle school after-school project!

A middle school's formal student handbook didn't fully meet students' needs. Missing from the list of rules, regulations, and procedures was a STUDENT PERSPECTIVE on adjusting to a new school.

Seventh graders felt that incoming students needed a kid-friendly handbook, written in easy-to-understand language, to supplement the formal handbook. They used the formal handbook as a resource to ensure the accuracy of essential information and designed a brainstorming exercise to determine which additional topics they would offer in the student-generated version.

Students self-selected their roles as writers, typists, artists, interviewers, organizers, layout designers, and investigators. They took their responsibilities seriously, and demonstrated their commitment to the project by sharing and helping each other to achieve the common goal of a kid-friendly handbook.

The student-generated handbook addresses new-student concerns such as which bathrooms to use, what's "cool" and what's not, and how to fit in. The guidance department now distributes it to all incoming students.

Adapted from "Community Lessons: Integrating Service-Learning Into K-12 Curriculum," 2001, Massachusetts Department of Education, Massachusetts Service Alliance, and Learn and Serve America.



At the time of this writing, youth from bay area schools in Valrico, Florida have gathered for four years  to bring awareness to the plight of homeless youth. Around 50 young people are estimated to participate in the 24-hour homeless simulation where they will sleep in cardboard boxes and also assemble backpacks and food packs to be donated for youth who are homeless.

Participating youth learn about issues surrounding homelessness and use banners and posters to share that information with passing cars and visitors to their "cardboard" shelters. This event is organized by all youth and is open to all youth.


A Service-Learning Project
Grades: 6 and up.... 

Types of Project: Public Art, Community Building/Development
Took place in Michigan 

Though their playground was filled slides, swings, and jungle gyms, 6th-grade students felt something important was missing: picnic tables. There was no place outside for students to relax and talk, eat their snacks, or play board games. 

In art class, the students drew a map of their playground and considered places to put picnic tables. They studied various types of trees in science class and chose the best wood for outdoor tables. The students then raised money to buy materials, recording and graphing their fund-raising progress until they had enough for four tables. 

Adults ran the power tools, but the students led every other part of construction, from writing, reading, and understanding instructions to measuring and hauling wooden planks. They maintained the tables for the rest of the academic year, and passed this responsibility on to the next group of students, solidifying long-lasting student involvement. 

In a relatively short time, these youths provided their school with a tangible contribution that would not only benefit them but future students for years to come. 

Adapted from "Route to Reform: K-8 service-learning Curriculum Ideas,":1994-95 National Youth Leadership Council. 



CHECK OUT THE "NO-CUSSING" CLUB! Yes, this can be considered a community service! Have you ever walked behind a group of kids-where every other word was a four letter word? Just a nice thing to do...



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Earth Friendly Projects for Grades 6 to 12

July 16, 2009 02:46 by Barbara Shelby


 Write letters to members of congress to support environmental legislation.

Raise money through various contests to support conservation causes. Example, class competitions.

• Have high school and middle school students present environmental information to middle and elementary schools.

Volunteer locally to do habitat preservation, adopt a roadway or beach to remove litter, or recycle wastes in the community.

• Volunteer at a recycling center.

• Get students involved on local media programs of radio and T.V. which focus on environmental concerns.

• Begin recycling programs in your school or analyze the ones already in place and suggest improvements.

Encourage teachers to duplicate on both sides of papers.

Plan a field trip to sewage treatment, sanitary landfill, zoo, arboretum, or nature center.

Invite a director or president of local environmental organizations to your program. Learn what the organization does—as well as finding out why these people volunteer their time and how they became interested in the environment.

Interview local businesses to find out about economic conflicts associated with environmental issues.

• Volunteer and spend time at a local elementary school-facilitating projects made from recycled materials. Volunteer time setting up a litter campain or collection for rain-forest, etc. with elementary school programs.



•Ride your bike or walk to school.
•Use last year's school supplies.
•Buy a canvas and cardboard binders instead of plastic.
•Buy recycled paper.
•Use reusable water bottles instead of plastic.
•Use a lunch box, not paper bags.
•Donate last year's clothes instead of throwing them away.
•Buy online to avoid driving.
•Buy organic food.
•Turn your computer off when you're not using it.
•Decorate your lunchbox.
•Make your own bookmarks.
•Organize a clothes swap with your friends.
•Carpool to sports.
•Use refillable pens and pencils.
•Reuse your backpack. Decorate it with cool patches.
Tips from


 GREEN MAPPING...GREAT IDEA for middle school to adult!
Pretend you are the first person to explore your home or school neighborhood. Draw a map of what you find. This idea with a Community Service/Green Bend is Green Mapping.
Green Mapping is catching on across the globe as kids and adults around the world participate in diverse and unusual mapping projects. Green Mapping looks at the community using the map as the medium.
The map could examine environmental issues or look at community resources and needs with a critical eye. Green Maps can be computer generated or hand drawn and can include poems, narrative text, photos, and background information.
Children and adults from around the world have mapped a wide variety of diverse projects.
Consider ideas such as:

  • Where are bike trails, farmers’ markets, or wildlife habitats in your town?
  • Are there good walking tours to recommend?
  • What are the cultural resources for children in your area? Are there enough?
  • Are there toxic waste sites or environmental hazards in your community?
  • Are there rivers or streams that are at risk in your area?
  • Where are the green spaces in your community? Should there be more?
  • What is youth-friendly in your neighborhood?
  • What does your neighborhood need?
    Click Here to Learn all about Green Mapping.


Read about a school that started "The Catalog Canceling Challenge" in 2007-- and since then other schools and scouts have joined the fun. So far 5,000 kids in fifteen states have canceled almost 40,000 unwanted sales catalogs! It saves trees, water, energy, and our climate. In fact, these kids have saved 1000's of trees so far! 

 It's a pretty straightforward idea that kids enjoy. Click here if your program would like more information.




This is good reminder to include in a newsletter or at an Earth Club meeting...

Sometimes plastic ring-type holders found on six-packs of aluminum cans can end up in the water... fish and other animals that live there can get caught in them. Help your child make these holders less hazardous by using scissors to cut through each ring in the holder before throwing it away.

I was in Traverse City one summer; at the Hotel's water edge was a duck with plastic ring wrapped around his beak. I was told that it was there for at least a day. The duck was frantic and trying to remove it. Several hours later...someone was finally able to get it off...(Photo is of duck with six-pack rings caught on head)




Put out notices and containers—and start collecting!!!
Ever thrown out a pair of worn-out athletic shoes? Did you know that IT TAKES ABOUT 1,000 YEARS for those sneakers to biodegrade? Wondering what to do with the ones you've already got? RECYCLE THEM.
Every year, millions of pairs of athletic shoes are thrown away, not only wasting landfill space, but wasting tons of reusable material. Since 1993 Nike has been running a program called Reuse-a-Shoe. Since 1990, they've used over 25 million pairs of athletic shoes to create sports surfaces. It’s part of the "Let Me Play" campaign, one of Nike’s longest-running environmental and community programs, where worn-out athletic shoes of any brand are collected, processed and recycled into material USED IN SPORT SURFACES like basketball courts, tennis courts, athletic fields, running tracks and playgrounds for young people around the world.

For information visit their website.

To keep recycling equipment running smoothly, there are guidelines:
• Athletic shoes only (any brand)
• No shoes containing metal
• No cleats or dress shoes
• No wet or damp shoes



  • Contact an agency to see if it would be willing to remove your items for recycling. Find out how they must be sorted and stored.
  • Collect and recycle everything you can.
  • Donate the proceeds if you turn recycled items in for cash.
  • Contact for publicity; perhaps others will join the recycling effort!



Set a Collection Goal and Keep Track on a posted litter-meter.
Be sure all wear protective disposable gloves.


WASTE WATCHERS! Introduce recycling to your school by having youth set up a recycling bin for paper in your program area. Ask school officials to set up bins in the cafeteria for plastic, aluminum and glass. Students can help educate their schoolmates about recycling by designing posters that describe what can and cannot be place in each recycling bin.




Collect money (Coins for the Rainforest) and “adopt” a bit of Rain Forest. 2500 square feet can be purchased from Arborday website for $10.00 in the program section of the aborday site. Just search Rainforest Rescue. ***Place containers about the building and office/lounge areas. Be sure to put an article in your newsletter and promote the project verbally and with posters.


SET THE MOOD for Earth& Green Activities with Music! Any of these ' songs, would be wonderful used during 'Earth Week' or for a Nature Theme! Learn the words to such songs as This Land is Your Land and use others as background and listening music!

 • The Three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) by Jack Johnson
 • Green, Green Grass of Home by Tom Jones
 • Earth Song by Michael Jackson
 • What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
 • This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
 • And The Green Grass Grows All Around by Traditional
 • Down to Earth from Wall-E by Peter Gabriel
 • Moondance by Van Morrison
 • Garden Song by John Denver
 • Sunshine On My Shoulders by John Denver
 • Mother Earth by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
 • The Flower That Shattered The Stone by John Denver
 • Emergency on Planet Earth by Jamiroquai
 • Planet Earth by Duran Duran
 • Edelweiss from The Sound of Music
 • Moon River by Henry Mancini
 • Wildwood Flower by The Carter Family
 • Where Have All The Flowers Gone? by The Kingston Trio
 • Cross The Green Mountain by Bob Dylan
 • Planet Earth by Prince
 • Red River Valley by Traditional 
 • River Flows In You by Yiruma
 • Where The River Shannon Flows by James I. Russell
 • Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller
 • Mother Earth, Sister Moon by Carol Klose
 • Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven


Many  ideas from other categories will also work with older youth. Check out: