Middle school students scooted their chairs closer to the little desks as they crouched near their kindergarten buddies.
Purple, pink, red and yellow stuffed animals flew about the room as students of all different ages played together with their new “mini monster” toys.
Recently, Shelley Helmich put her eighth-grade family and consumer class at Carroll Middle School to the test. She assigned them a mini monster sewing project — and not only did they have to create the toy, but they had to put in extra effort by creating a special stuffed monster to give to a kindergartner at Fairview Elementary School.
“I thought that by asking the eighth-graders to sew a monster for a special little kindergartner, (it) would add more of a desire to do a good job and, in the end, also a wonderful sense of giving as well,” Helmich said.
During the course of the project, the middle school students met with the kindergarten class twice. The first time was to meet with their new little buddies and allow the kindergarten students to pick out the color and type of monster they would like.
The next time they met, they could see their finished monster, Helmich said.
“When we returned to class, after presenting the monsters, we took turns sharing with the class what comments they received from their little buddies,” she said. “I heard answers ranging from, ‘They just smiled a lot,’ to ‘Getting a big hug and a thank-you.’ ”
Tina Netusil, a kindergarten teacher at Fairview, said it’s always great to have different grade levels interact and work together. Through projects like this, younger students can learn a lot from their older peers.
“Before the middle school students came, I was able to explain to my current kindergartners that they would get to work on a project with some former students of mine,” she said. “It was good for my class to know that they, too, will learn how to do these kinds of projects. They just have to keep working hard. If they do that, all their hard work will pay off. Maybe when they are in middle school, they will get to work with a new group of kindergartners.”