In April 2019, students in Lori Schneider’s developmental preschool class at Anna Brocchausen Elementary began collecting plastic caps of all shapes and sizes for their school community service project.

More than 20 preschoolers participated in the ABC Promise Program at Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana. For eight months, they collected, sorted, counted and weighed plastics from detergent and bottle caps to yogurt and butter lids.

Schneider wanted to achieve a variety of goals with her class via this program: to practice skills found within the Indiana’s Early Learning Foundations in math and social/emotional standards. The program allowed the students to learn and practice skills such as sorting caps by attributes of size and color, pictures or no pictures, vocabulary and patterns.

Students were also able to develop using single words or simple phrases, expanded sentences, practicing joint attention to an object or person, actively communicating in a group activity and so much more.

As Schneider continues to develop lessons for her “littles,” she often leans on Ghandi’s words: “The future depends on what we do today!”

“It does not matter how small, challenged or delayed, my littles do have worth and value that fuels their individual gifts. So, why not share it with our community,” said Schneider. “Service projects are the vehicle by which I accomplish sharing their gifts.”

As the program came to an end in December, the students collected more than 200 pounds of plastic caps to deliver to Green Tree Plastics toward the purchase of two “Buddy Benches.”

“Buddy Benches are for individuals to sit when they do not have a ‘buddy’ to play with. Other students see them sitting on the bench and come over to offer to be their play buddy,” said Schneider. “The message of the bench is being conveyed through our recess play-works with recess etiquette, educating the student body about being an upstander through our anti-bullying campaign.”

The students’ gifts are fostered throughout their educational milestones and their ability to grow beyond the classroom walls. These students are learning how to count, growing their vocabulary and expanding their sentences, but most importantly, they are making friends simply by taking a seat.