Students at Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center read stories, sang and played games with residents at Hearthstone Manor, a senior assisted-living community, on Tuesday.
Kindergarten teacher Kimberly O’Brien first got the idea to bring students out into the community from a former teacher. To pay for transportation costs, she requested and received a grant from Woodstock School District 200’s D200 Education Foundation. “Part of our curriculum is teaching the kids to be bucket-fillers. We do nice things, we say nice things – treat people the way we would want to be treated,” O’Brien said. “Now let’s take it out of the building and show that we can be bucket-fillers anywhere.”
At Hearthstone, students sang holiday favorites such as “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and played holiday bingo with the residents. “A couple of years ago, one of our former staff members did this, but I thought of my own twist to add an academic component,” O’Brien said.
Students brought some early-reader books such as “Brown Reindeer, Brown Reindeer” and also read to residents. O’Brien said the assisted-living center residents eagerly anticipate the visits. “It just brightens their day. They come in all dressed up. It’s a big day for them,” she said. Students at Verda Dierzen also have been collecting supplies – such as dog food, leashes, treats, paper towels and cash – to take to Helping Paws Animal Shelter.