11/03/10 — Children's lesson: Share letters with heroes

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Children's lesson: Share letters with heroes

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 3, 2010 1:46 PM

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Douglas Davidson, a second-grade student at Spring Creek Elementary, shows a postcard he decorated for soldiers in Afghanistan. Art teachers at the school incorporated literacy, art and patriotism into a project called "Postcards for Soldiers."

When Tara King's husband began a six-month tour in Afghanistan earlier this fall, she got to thinking.

Perhaps, the Spring Creek Elementary School art teacher thought, there was a way to use the experience of being a military spouse to educate her students.

Most who attend the school do, after all, have a loved one in the military.

So after a brainstorming session with one of her peers, fellow art teacher Donna Amos, an idea was born -- one that will ultimately see hundreds of cards delivered to those Seymour Johnson Air Force Base personnel currently fighting a war thousands of miles from home.

And for the past several months, in a collaborative effort that has seen some 987 students involved, one of the major lessons taught to children at Spring Creek has been patriotism.

"We decided to combine social studies, writing and art to create a learning service project of sending postcards to soldiers in Afghanistan," Mrs. Amos said. "Collaborative learning is a big new thing."

So the children have been reading books, studying PowerPoint presentations and more to hone their skills while making the cards.

"We talked about honoring our country, why there are 50 stars on the flag, what some of the patriotic symbols are, so they wouldn't just all do the same design -- we even showed them on the globe where Afghanistan is, how we could get in our car and go to Raleigh to catch a plane to go there," Mrs. Amos said. "We have this great book, 'Letters to Soldiers,' that we used. We took words and put them on the board, like for kindergarten, they're learning colors and can copy words ... all the way up to fifth grade. We were able to do vocabulary and talk about what we do every day by saying the Pledge of Allegiance and The Star-Spangled Banner."

The result was what you might expect from a child -- mostly simple, heartfelt "thank yous" and sentences that read "we're proud of you."

And as close to Veterans Day as possible, those airmen will have something tangible to show them just how much their service is appreciated -- even by the youngest Wayne County residents they are fighting to protect.

"It takes about 10 days for them to get there, and we're mailing them next week," Mrs. Amos said. "So we'll have them in time for Thanksgiving."

But don't expect the teachers -- or their students -- to stop supporting people many of them don't know just because this latest effort is complete.

In fact, Mrs. Amos and Mrs. King are already anticipating their next learning service project.

"We'll make coloring books for the children in Haiti," Mrs. Amos said. "That, too, will incorporate their learning and art skills, while helping out the children over there."