Social Studies and Character Development

The Hands On Minds On Curriculum places a great deal of emphasis on creating caring citizens. This is done in many ways. At the beginning of the year, the teacher goes over rules for students to follow that help to define a safe space for all. All of the teachers have been trained by The Peace Foundation in Miami in the use of the Peacemaking Skills for Little Kids.

Each class uses the accompanying curricula, posters, and music. Through activities, games, songs, and puzzles the teacher teaches her students the I-Care Rules and important practical skills like listening, cooperating, respecting each other, and sharing.  These concepts are reviewed and reinforced during circle time and as needed when conflicts arise.

A child who hits is reminded that hands are for helping and to use their words, not hands, for communicating their needs to others.  This is only one of the ways that Hands On Minds On instills the importance of caring for others.

The resource library has several class sets of literature in the area of character education to assist the students in learning to be good citizens.  Good citizenship is acknowledged by the teacher in many ways such as the naming of a student of the week.  Every child has the opportunity during the school year as student of the week to bring a poster of their family to share with the class.  Teachers model character building skills and use character education literature as well.

Furthermore Hands On Minds On creates caring citizens by teaching empathy for others. Kids For Kids Academy incorporated principles from the charity Kids 4 Kids  (www.kids4kids.org), also founded by educator Beth Davis.  The charity was founded to teach children at a young age that they can change the world through their acts of kindness to others.  Several times during the school year, children at Kids For Kids Academy are invited to participate in projects to help others.  Every child in the school has a paper heart with their name on it.  For each project, those who participate move their name onto the graph of giving.  This is a way for families to also participate in the home / school relationship.

Below are some projects done each year at Kids For Kids Academy to help others and create caring community citizens.

October:
Although candy is not permitted at the school, students are encouraged to bring in a bag of candy for homeless kids.  They learn that homeless kids often cannot go Trick Or Treating.  Kids at the school decorate white bags and fill them with candy so homeless kids can enjoy the simple pleasure of a bag of candy on Halloween.

November:
Students in the school learn to be thankful for what they have.  They sign up to bring in items to create Thanksgiving meal for a family who is not as fortunate.  The school decorates and fills baskets for 7 local families so that they can enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving.

December:
Kids For Kids Academy “adopts” 4 underprivileged families for the Holidays.   Students are invited to remove a tag from the school tree of love.  Each tag represents a wish of an individual in a family  who needs some love during the holiday season. Each family member in the “adoptive” family (including the parents) get 4-5 wrapped gifts.  The  families are invited to attend a sing along at the school and take the gifts home to put under their holiday trees.

February:
Kids in the school make Valentine bags and cards for kids in local hospitals so that they will fill the love of another on Valentines Day.

April:
Kids in the school bring in packages of new socks to be donated to Foster Kids as part of Project New Sock.

June:
Kids in the school are invited to donate school supplies for migrant children and also participate in assisting Kids 4 Kids (www.kids4kids.org) in filling thousands of backpacks for homeless, abused, migrant, and foster  kids.

Another component of Hands On Minds On is teaching cultural awareness and about the community in which students live.  Throughout the year, children learn about holidays and cultures of others through music, art, and literacy activities.   Special activities take place and families are invited to participate in the school day with their children for the following holidays; Halloween, Valentines Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa & Family Cultural Events.

Students also take part in activities to learn about Easter & Passover as it relates to springtime as well as visiting and singing at retirement homes to promote intergenerational relationships.  VPK students also learn about the world around them by participating in the monthly field-trips to plays, zoos, museums, shows, and other educational local attractions.

Finally, students school-wide participate in career day to bring an awareness of the community in which students live.  Family members as well as members from the community are invited to share their careers and why they are important with the students at the school.  Students have the opportunity to get an up close look at the individuals who live and work around them.

Hands On Minds On Social Studies and Character Development
VPK Standards Correlation

II. Social and Emotional Development

A. Self-concept

A.1. Demonstrates self-concept

A.2. Shows some self-direction

B. Self-control

B.1. Follows simple classroom rules and routines

C. Relationships with Adults

C.1. Interacts easily with familiar adults

C.2. Seeks adult assistance appropriately

D. Relationships with Peers

D.1. Interacts easily with one or more children

D.2. Develops special friendships

D.3. Participates in the group life of the class

D.4. Shows empathy and caring for others

E. Social Problem Solving

E.1. Seeks adult help when needed to resolve conflicts

E. Conversation

E.1. Uses language to express needs and feelings, share experiences, predict outcomes and resolve problems

E.2. Initiates, ask questions, and responds to adults and peers in a variety of settings E.3. Uses appropriate language and style for context

C. Social Studies

C.a. People, Past and Present

C.a.1. Identifies similarities and differences in personal and family characteristics

C.b. Human Interdependence

C.b.1 Begins to understand family needs, roles and relationships

C.b.2. Describes some people’s jobs and what is required to perform them

C.c. Citizenship and Government

C.c.1 Demonstrates awareness of rules

C.c.2. Shows awareness of what it means to be a leader

C.d. People and Where They Live

C.d.1. Shows awareness of the environment