By Shauna Phillips, Head Teacher
The Cascata classroom is a preschool classroom for three to five year-olds children at the University of Michigan- Flint’s Early Childhood Development Center. The classroom is split into two groups, Cascata A and Cascata B.
In late December, the Cascata A friends were spending time with their classroom pets, two gerbils named Mario and Luigi. The Cascata B students let their teacher Ms. Shauna know that they wanted classroom pets of their own. Ms. Shauna let the students know that Mario and Luigi (the gerbils) were the pets in the Cascata classroom, but the students worked together to explain to her how it wasn’t the same. The Cascata B students didn’t get to feed them or care for them, because they are Ms. Alysha’s, the Cascata A lead teacher.
The conversation among the Cascata B teachers and students continued and they came to an agreement to get a classroom pet. Ms. Shauna asked them what kind of pets they would like in the classroom. The students brainstormed a list that included cats, dogs, birds, reptiles, and rodents. The choices were narrowed down to rodents specifically mice, hamsters, or a guinea pig. The class discussed why other animals were not an option. Ms. Shauna explained the cost of acquiring each animal and the amount of work for each animal. After further research the class decided on 2 hamsters. The Cascata B teachers thought of possible fundraising ideas and agreed upon selling the children’s work. Ms. Shauna came up with the idea of selling ornaments and keepsakes due to the holiday season.
After hearing about Cascata’s B fundraiser idea the Cascata A students wanted to help. Monday the following week, the students began creating ornaments, decorated vases, and keepsakes to sell for donation amounts to the campus and Flint community. The students and teachers discussed how to approach potential customers and advertise their creations. The fundraiser was named “The Pet Project”. The fundraiser lasted three days and began on Wednesday December 16th, 2015 in the White Building lobby. On the second day of the fundraiser students were able to sell their creations at The Flint Farmers’ Market. The third and final day the students returned to the White Building lobby to sell.
The support and generosity from the Flint community and campus community was overwhelming. So many community members stopped by to talk to the students, encourage them, and make donations. The students raised over $300! We were able to purchase a cage, two exercise balls, three months worth of food and bedding, and two panda hamsters. The students voted on names for our two new pets. They decided on Batman and Robin.
The Pet Project started as a small idea and grew into something more. By creating and selling the items the students were directly involved in the fundraising process. By supporting the Cascata B students, the Cascata A friends took part in a philanthropic cause that didn’t directly benefit them. The Cascata A students learned the importance of giving without receiving. The Pet Project strengthened the group life of the Cascata classroom Community. The students engaged with many vendors at the Flint Farmers’ Market.
Benefits of The Pet Project:
- Making connections with the campus and Flint Community
- Improving communication skills
- Learning to work together towards a common goal
- Instill the importance of community
- Show awareness of how their actions affect themselves and those around them
- Shows inventiveness
- Learned about money