Month of the Military Child: Simple Classroom Projects with Big ImpactApril 17, 2017
April is the Month of the Military Child, dedicated to honoring the 1.7 million military children and their families worldwide for "the sacrifices they make, the resilience they display and the challenges they overcome. The month is deeply meaningful for fifth-grade teacher Eric Crouch (GA '16) and his Double Churches Elementary school community in Columbus, Georgia. The community serves Fort Benning, one of the largest military training bases in the world. Close to half of Double Churches' students are from military families.
Eric has engaged his students in three main projects to show appreciation for the brave men and women who serve our country. In doing so, he has instilled values of leadership, respect and understanding in his students that will carry them through school and life. "Leaders who serve lead by example," Eric says. "Our goal is to create an environment where students find ways that are impactful to them and create opportunities so they can impact their community. Since the community is ours, we are the ones responsible for the upkeep. What better way to do that than to serve? This month serves as a perfect opportunity to serve the students whose families make so many sacrifices."
How can educators create these powerful projects in their schools? Follow Eric's step-by-step process and learn more about the impact the gestures can have on your students.
Guardian or Hero Posters
"The 'guardian' poster is important because most of our students' heroes may not be a mom or dad; they may be stepmoms or stepdads, aunts or uncles. The term 'guardian' brings equity to everyone's hero," Eric explains. "Students describe why their guardian is so important, then have their friends illustrate this on a poster and display it in the hall. Students love being able to walk by and point out their guardian. The best part is at the end when they get to present the poster to their guardian."
How it's done:
- Have military students bring in photos of their guardian who serves or has served in the military.
- Once all students have brought in their pictures, assign each student to a group. Each group will then draw a guardian they will be highlighting.
- The student will take his or her picture, tell about the guardian and allow the group to ask questions to get to know the subject better.
- Groups work together to create a stunning poster that reflects the guardian.
- Students see their guardian on display in the halls or in the classroom. Showcasing these wonderful service members becomes the talk of the school as everyone wants to know more about the pictures.
- This creates an opportunity to add a writing component (plaque) that gives specific detail on the guardians and who they are linked to in your school.
Red Carpet Breakfast
The red carpet breakfast is held at Double Churches Elementary twice a month. Military students are asked to arrive later to provide time for the other students to set up the room like a true red carpet event. "Students love being cheered by their peers," says Eric. "They walk the red carpet to the breakfast table and enjoy a wonderful meal to start their day."
How it's done:
- After the red carpet and breakfast buffet of energy-charged food and drinks are set up (don't forget plenty of water!), line students on both sides of the carpet to cheer military children as they walk the red carpet on their way to breakfast.
- Allow the classmates to serve the military students breakfast.
Honor Wall or Loved Ones Wall
The hero or loved ones wall is for anyone in a student's family who has served in the military. "My students always enjoy seeing pictures and sharing stories with friends about their family members who have served," Eric says.
How it's done:
- Set aside a special place in the room where students can leave pictures of their family. (In Eric's class, the students took over the center of the board and drew a heart around their loved ones, as seen in the photo to the right.)
- Students design the wall or display.
All photos by Eric Crouch. For more information on the Month of the Military Child and resources, visit the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) community website.
Celebrate Purple Up! For Military Kids: On Friday, April 21, 2017, DoDEA community members across the U.S. will be wearing purple for Purple Up! For Military Kids. The event is "to show support and thank military children for their strength and sacrifices." (Purple symbolizes the combined colors of the branches of the military: Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.) To join the celebration on social media, use #PurpleUpDoDEA and share your photo and caption on the DoDEA Facebook page.
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