#ToteChallenge: Students investigate the problems caused by plastic shopping bags, then propose solutions they can take to address the problems. They brainstorm uses for plastic bags and design a reusable shopping tote out of an old T-shirt using engineering, problem-solving, creativity, and communication. They take action for the common good by using and sharing their homemade totes and by educating the community about problems and solutions to the plastic bag crisis. 

Students listen and respond to a read-aloud book about making a shared space better. They walk around their school grounds observing plants, use of space, and ways to make the shared space better. They problem-solve about things they can do and then interview and survey others to get ideas and permission to take action. 

In response to a read-aloud story about improving a community with individual gifts of time and talent, students explore talents and interests of their own and others. They practice listening and responding with respect. They raise awareness through volunteering of the benefit to communities of a variety of contributions. Everyone has something to give, and this lesson helps us respect and celebrate the contributions we all can make. Students internalize "I matter in my communities." 

Students gain empathy and use language to describe the mixed feelings that come with being new to a community. They watch and discuss video clips and compare character traits. Then they read a book and discuss how the book guides them to welcome new students to the classroom as the year progresses. As a service, they create coupon books for new students to use to get to know classroom routines and people.

At the beginning of the year we get to create our classroom community. We get to decide how we will learn and grow and play with each other for the rest of the year. This is a new beginning for all. As we start to decide what kind of classroom community we are going to be, we begin by thinking about the importance of the words we use with each other.

Building a caring and inclusive classroom begins with an understanding of where students are at not just academically, but emotionally. Many students today have been exposed to adverse childhood experiences that affect their ability to regulate their emotions. By teaching children positive behavior and self-regulation, teachers can help improve outcomes for all students. This lesson will introduce students to mindful activities and the use of gratitude journals.

In this lesson, the students learn to use their voice to say something to make the world a better place. This is an opportunity to demonstrate and feel the impact of kindness, inclusion, and listening on a caring community. Students learn from a community helper about the needs they observe in the community. They make and donate a "calming box" so the tool may help youth calm themselves. Use this at the beginning of the year to set a tone and learn skills of effective language that are good for all. 

In this one period lesson, learners discuss hunger and learn about nonprofits in the community. Students respond to literature and reflect on ways people give and take action. As a service project, they raise awareness of the issue or of giving opportunities. 

Students organize and implement a school-based recycling plan based on a one-day lunchroom waste audit.

Adapt this one-period lesson plan for your grade level and follow it with a simple and powerful service project for Earth Day. The reflection brings learning and service impact together. 

In an effort to strengthen community, students draft and share a book about a character traits. Students learn the importance of community by evaluating the traits required to make a community healthy and functional. Students will publish their completed books and share their works with others.

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