One of the many benefits of service learning is that students can select a project that is meaningful to them while helping them (and you) meet curricular objectives. Service projects can be as diverse as the students in your school and as unique as your community. Before students select their project, they should ask themselves if it is important to them, if it is an authentic need in the community, and if it is feasible.

Here is a list of some service-learning project ideas:

Murals

Murals have become a very popular form of art. Students can work with local artists, community groups and the local government in order to create a mural in their community.

Photography

Students can explore the art of photography as they photograph events at the local senior citizen center. If the senior citizen center is having a dance or a picnic, students could be on hand to photograph the seniors with their family members and friends. Once the photos are developed, the students could make hand-crafted frames and give the framed photographs to the seniors they have become friends with through the project.

Elementary School

Young children are often eager to learn another language. What better way for language students in Middle School or High School to share their new-found language skills than to introduce elementary students to Spanish, German, French or maybe even Italian! In small groups, older students can visit elementary school classrooms and teach language lessons. Everyone will have fun as they either learn a new language or practice it!

Cook Book

Students can meet and interview families that have either recently immigrated to this country or whose relatives came through Ellis Island years ago. In meeting with these members of the community, students can learn more about the history involved with each of these families in migrating to America. They can document their interview so that an excerpt of it appears in the cook book along with each of the recipes gathered from the families they interview. Once completed, the students will have created a valuable culinary resource for use in Food Science classrooms and they will also have documented a piece of their community’s history. The cookbook could be sold with proceeds benefiting a local non-profit that serves the immigrant population.

Nursing Homes, VA Hospitals, and Senior Citizen centers

Nursing Homes, VA Hospitals, and Senior Citizen centers are full of people that can make History more realistic for students in all grades! Start taking your class to visit seniors so that they can learn more about such historical events as World War II, the Korean War, and the Depression and Stock Market Crash of the 1920’s. Students could also learn about fun times like the nostalgic fifties, the roaring twenties, and the sixties. Events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the rise in popularity of Elvis will certainly spark the interest of students! Not only will they learn a new appreciation of history, they will become a companion to a senior in need of a friend! By writing reports or making oral presentations to the class about what they learn from interviewing the senior citizens, teachers could easily link the service the students provide with their evaluation and assessment practices!

Community Garden

A community garden would require students to do a lot of measuring! Students will strengthen their math skills by measuring the square footage of the garden plots, the space between plantings, the amount of rainfall during the growing season, and the amount of plant food to be diluted for feeding the garden. When the plants are ready for harvest, students will be able to measure the yield of the crops that they have planted.

Math Games

High School or Middle School math students can create math games for elementary students. The games would help the elementary students get better acquainted with different math concepts, and if the older students were to visit the elementary classrooms in order to teach the games, tutoring skills would be promoted amongst the high school students!

Pollution and litter

Middle School, Elementary and High School students can rid a local river or stream of trash and debris while learning about the plant-life and fish/animal habitats that are endangered by pollution and litter.

Chemical contamination

High School and Middle School students can study chemical contamination and water pollution as they test the local streams and rivers in their community.

Germs

High School or Middle School students can produce an assembly for preschool or elementary students on hand-washing and germs.

Neighborhood clean-up

Students in High School or Middle School can assist a Community Development Corporation (CDC) with a neighborhood clean-up. While planning the project with the CDC, the students will learn more about the role of such organizations in local government and help clean-up a community in the process!

Book-drive

Students can hold a book-drive to collect books for the county, state or federal prison nearest their school. Students can examine the criminal justice system as they collect much-need reading materials for inmates. The books can be given to a local organization that serves the prison population and their families.

Food Banks

Food Banks are also community agencies that are often in need of assistance. There is always inventory to be taken, shelves to be stocked, boxes of canned goods to be unloaded off delivery trucks, and bags and boxes of food to be carried to the client’s car on days the Food Bank is open for customers. Some Food Banks even run their own farm so that they can offer their clients and local soup kitchen fresh vegetables! Students can help plant and harvest the crop while they learn about the differences between organic and non-organic produce, and the dangers of pesticides.

Nutrition education

Nutrition education is another great way for High School and Middle School students to provide a service to the community. Whether they are educating senior citizens at the local community center or visiting elementary schools to spread the word about eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, students can bring the community up-to-date on the latest nutrition information

First-Aid Drive

Students can organize a community first-aid drive, collecting first-aid supplies. Students could research what items are necessary and cost-effective for a basic first-aid kit, and then they could create flyers, posters, etc. to alert the community about the collection. Once all the first-aid products are collected, students could then create first-aid kits for the local homeless shelters to distribute.