Kimberly Clark

Six Resources to Get Students Involved in Community Service

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

Children of all ages can benefit from volunteering and giving back to the community. By getting involved in community service, children can learn valuable life skills, such as compassion, responsibility and self-confidence.

Many of our programs organize service activities to give back to the community, including fundraisers, donations and clothing/shoe drives. AlphaBEST students at Southwest Elementary School organized a baby shower last December for the Salem Pregnancy Care Center in Winston-Salem, NC. Children and families donated new and gently used baby items and supplies, such as bottles, toys, food products and clothes. During the baby shower, children played games, like Pass the Pacifier, and discussed how spring symbolizes renewal and birth.

AlphaBEST students donated baby items to local community organization.

AlphaBEST students donated baby items to local community organization.

Volunteering is a great way to teach children gratitude and to foster a lifelong commitment to helping others in need. In honor of National Volunteer Week, check out the following resources to get children involved in community service:

National Poetry Month | Poet-to-Poet Project

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” – Rita Dove

There’s more to poetry than rhyming and crafting “Roses are red, violets are blue” poems. Poetry is a form of written expression, which consists of words arranged in patterns of sound and imagery to evoke an emotional response. There are also positive benefits of teaching poetry to students. In Edutopia’s “Five Reasons Why We Need Poetry in Schools,” the author suggests reading and writing poetry promotes literacy, builds community and fosters emotional intelligence. For National Poetry Month, bring poetry to life by participating in the Poet-to-Poet project by

National Poetry Month - Teaching Poetry to Students


Poet-to-Poet is a multimedia project that encourages children and youth in grades 3-12 to write poems in response to those shared by award-winning poets, such as Pulitzer Prize-nominee Ron Padgett and Poet Laureate of California Juan Felipe Herrera. If chosen, student poems may be published on in May 2014.

To participate in the project, students must:

  • Watch the videos of the poets reading and discussing their poem.
  • Write their own poem in response.
  • Email their poem to [email protected] by April 30, 2014, and include their name and the name of the poet who inspired their poem. also provided a series of Common Core aligned activities for educators to incorporate poetry into the classroom or afterschool program. To join the project, visit

How do you plan to celebrate National Poetry Month in your classroom or afterschool program? Share with us below!

Foreign Language Learning in Afterschool

foreign language learning for kids


Foreign language learning has been a topic of debate recently in the education sphere. Many people believe it’s unimportant, and foreign language programs are usually the first on the chopping block when schools in the U.S. face poor performance evaluations and budget cuts.

Learning a second language, however, yields positive results for 21st century students. Research shows that foreign language learning improves cognitive skills and enhances mental development, leading to overall improvement in school performance. During the Language Zone at  AlphaBEST, students are introduced to Spanish with our 18-week Spanish curriculum, VIVA AlphaBEST. Zone Leaders employ cooperative learning techniques to help students learn Spanish vocabulary and discover Latin American traditions and holidays. Throughout the year, students will also have the opportunity to explore American Sign Language and the Chinese language and culture.

We are Teachers and Middlebury Interactive Languages teamed up to create a poster to further explain the benefits of learning a second language and to remind students why language learning rocks!

(click to enlarge)

Why Learn Another Language infographic from Middlebury and WeAreTeachers

Download Poster

Five Ways to Incorporate Engineering in Afterschool

Engineering puts the “E” in STEM, an acronym used to describe the study of science, technology, engineering and math. STEM careers are rapidly growing, and engineering represents a majority of these STEM jobs.  (To learn more, read Computing and Engineering in Afterschool). In order to prepare our students for a STEM-driven economy, educators must provide activities that spark students’ interest in STEM. Afterschool is a great catalyst for students to explore engineering though hands-on, student-centered activities.

Five ways to incorporate engineering in afterschool


Here are five ways to incorporate engineering in afterschool:

  • Educate. Many students do not know much about engineering or what an engineer does. Once they discover engineering, students may develop an interest in the topic.  Check out this video by NASA to introduce students to engineering.
  • TryEngineering. This organization offers 114 lesson plans designed to get students interested in engineering. Lessons can be selected based on students’ age range and by an engineering topic, like robotics or motion and forces.
  • Use Lego Robotics to introduce students to engineering in afterschoolRobotics. Programs like LEGO Robotics pair computing and engineering to tap into students’ problem solving skills. At AlphaBEST, students build and program robots according to step-by-step instructions. With robotics, students explore the basics of engineering by focusing on what makes the robot work.
  • Mentor. Leverage community resources to put a face to engineering. Invite parents and other community members to further explain engineering and to discuss their careers with students. There are also programs, such as Engineering for Kids®, that will bring fun, hands-on engineering projects to your program.
  • Discover Engineering. This website provides hands-on activities, videos, games, field trip ideas and other resources to discover engineering in your afterschool program. Activities are tailored for educators, parents, volunteers and students, and many of their activities can be translated into other languages.

Educators should build a year-long commitment to spark students’ interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.  Check out this Pinterest board for 50+ activities to incorporate STEM in afterschool.

Presidents’ Day: Educational Quotes By U.S. Presidents

A great leader is most known for his ability to inspire action through well-crafted words. Throughout history, U.S. leaders have delivered powerful speeches that have sparked change within the nation. With education a top priority, they have made powerful statements about learning and education.

Presidents' Day: Educational Quotes by U.S. Presidents

This Presidents’ Day, we celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present by sharing 10 educational quotes made by U.S. presidents:

  • If we want to invest in the prosperity of our nation, we must invest in the education of our children so that their talents may be fully employed. | Bill Clinton, 42nd President
  • If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. | Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President
  • Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation. | John F. Kennedy, 35th President
  • Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak and write. | John Adams, 2nd President
  • The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create. | Barack Obama, 44th President
  • The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music. | Gerald Ford, 38th President
  • You see, we’ll never be able to compete in the 21st century unless we have an education system that doesn’t quit on children, an education system that raises standards, an education that makes sure there’s excellence in every classroom. | George W. Bush,  43rd President
  • Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. | John F. Kennedy, 35th President
  • The best means of forming a manly, virtuous, and happy people will be found in the right education of youth. Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion, must fail. | George Washington, 1st President
  • Education is not the means of showing people how to get what they want. Education is an exercise by means of which enough men, it is hoped, will learn to want what is worth having. | Ronald Reagan, 40th President



BrainyQuote // // // // Huffington Post

Digital Learning in Afterschool

In recent years, digital technology has emerged as a fundamental tool in education, transforming the way students learn and gather information. It supports educators, improves learning and prepares students for future success. Sandy Holt, a 12-year technology teacher and Technology Arts Instructor at AlphaBEST Education, tells us why digital literacy is important for students today and how technology is used in afterschool.

Digital Learning Day: Digital Technology in Afterschool

How has technology transformed education?

AlphaBEST Technology Arts Instructor discusses digital learning(SH): Students are digital natives. They begin to manipulate digital devices at the age of two. By using technology in the classroom, we are turning their knowledge into learning by honing in on their fluency as digital learners. Digital technology is also hands-on, which enhances the curriculum and keeps students engaged.

How important is digital literacy for today’s students?

(SH): Digital learning fosters the four C’s of 21st century learning: collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. As technology instructors, we want children to learn how to manipulate apps and programs, demonstrate how to operate those tools to create projects and communicate with others—in the classroom and globally. These skills are preparing students for college and future careers.

How does AlphaBEST use technology to advance learning?

Digital Learning in Afterschool

(SH): At AlphaBEST, we enhance learning with digital arts programs that encourage students to work collaboratively, as well as independently. When working with these programs, such as SAM Animation and LEGO Robotics, teachers are the facilitators and students become leaders. As they complete projects, students become digital creators and learn to solve problems and share solutions with their peers.

What do students enjoy most about using digital tools to learn?

(SH): Students enjoy seeing the final product after working through each step of a project. For example, when using SAM Animation, students narrate a storyboard, create figures to use as props and operate technology to develop the animated movie. Every student has a role, and they realize that their individual work collectively leads to the completion of the project. They are excited and beam with delight when it is time to share their creations with other students!

Digital Learning in Afterschool

Digital learning is a great way to foster 21st century skills in students. Join thousands of educators as they celebrate the innovative use of digital technology!

For more information about Digital Learning Day, visit

To learn more about AlphaBEST Education, visit

[Infographic] Technology Meets Language Learning

In prehistoric times, second languages were taught with worksheets, a tape recorder and headphones. Fast forward to the 21st century, and students are learning foreign languages with technology at their fingertips! Learning a foreign language offers an array of benefits, including improved academic performance, increased cognitive abilities and a larger selection of career choices. The integration of technology makes language learning more interactive and engaging for every student.

Language Learning Goes Digital and Middlebury Interactive Languages recently released an infographic, “Language Learning Goes Digital” which focuses on how technology is used to improve second language instruction. The infographic reveals that more students are using laptops, tablets and other technological devices and software to learn a foreign language. The benefits include access to more resources and “authentic learning experiences,” the ability to be creative throughout the learning process and motivation to learn using the latest technology.

To learn more, view Language Learning Goes Digital.

Image Source//

Celebrate MLK Day With Service, Volunteerism

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. committed his life to service and to promoting peace, equality and justice for everyone. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday as a national day of service to honor his legacy through volunteerism. Service learning is a teaching method that combines instruction with meaningful community service. It helps to empower students, strengthen communities and create solutions to social problems. This Monday, January 20, celebrate MLK Day by engaging students with service projects in the local community.

Celebrate MLK Day with service projects for kids and students


10 Service Project Ideas for Students:

  • Put on gloves and visit the neighborhood park to pick up litter.
  • Gather your favorite classic board games and organize a board game night at your local nursing home.
  • Volunteer at the local animal shelter to feed, bathe and pet the animals.
  • Conduct a coat drive at your school or afterschool center and donate items to local charity organizations.
  • Collect gently used toys, video games and board games, and donate them to patients at a Children’s Hospital.
  • Locate a Special Olympics event in your area and volunteer to help or cheer on the athletes.
  • Collect aluminum cans from friends, family and neighbors, and donate the money to a local environmental charity.
  • Visit a local food bank and volunteer to pack and hand out food.
  • Run in a marathon to raise money for a cause.
  • Create anti-bullying posters to hang around the school and local community.

For more service project ideas, check out these resources:

366 Community Service Ideas

Global Youth Service Day


Teach Kids About the Life & Legacy of Nelson Mandela

On December 5, we mourned the loss of world-famous politician and civil rights hero Nelson Mandela, who died at the age of 95. Mandela, South Africa’s founding father, was a symbol of compassion, courage and commitment.  He spent 27 years in prison because of his work to end racial segregation in his home country. Mandela was a great example of the change we can make with unwavering strength, faith and wisdom, and today’s youth could learn many things from his life and legacy.

Ways to teach kids about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela


Here is a list of 10 great resources to teach kids about Nelson Mandela:

  • Nelson Mandela Foundation | A great resource for preparing lessons on Nelson Mandela.
  • Remembering Nelson Mandela – Nelson Mandela biographies | Scholastic Parents: grades 1-2; grades 3-5; grades 6-8
  • Nelson Mandela: 1918-2013 | TIME for Kids:  Read the Nelson Mandela biography and view a slideshow of his life.
  • Mandela – History app | iTunes: Discover the story of Nelson Mandela through fun educational games.
  • Teaching Nelson Mandela | Education Week Teacher: See a compiled list of resources for bringing Mandela into the classroom.
  • Nelson Mandela | BBC – Primary History: Learn more about Mandela through biographies, photos, videos, activities, quizzes, and more.
  • Apartheid | BrainPOP Educators: Watch a movie on apartheid to discover Mandela’s fight to end racial segregation in South Africa.
  • Nelson Mandela | Picture Book Biography by Kadir Nelson: The life of Nelson Mandela is illuminated and celebrated through words and paintings.
  • Nelson Mandela quotes | BrainyQuote: Visualize Mandela’s life and legacy through inspirational quotes and sayings.
  • Tribute to Nelson Mandela | ABC News: Kids from around the world say what Mandela means to them over John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Would you like to add any resources to the list? Share below!

10 Books to Teach Children About Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a time when everyone reflects on the many things for which they are grateful, such as family, good health, job, etc. However, studies show there are benefits to expressing gratitude year-round. An attitude of gratitude yields positive emotions, like joy and happiness, and can lead to improved relationships and greater physical health. During the holiday season, children may have the tendency to become self-centered and focus more on themselves than others. Check out the following 10 books for children to help foster a sense of gratitude that will remain long after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes and teaching children about gratitudeThanks a Million by Nikki Grimes, grades 1 – 5. Through a collection of 16 thoughtful poems, young children learn the importance of being thankful for everyday things.
  • The Berenstain Bears Thanksgiving Blessings by Mike Berenstain, grades k – 3. Children can ride along with the Bear family on Thanksgiving Day as Brother and Sister learn about all the things everyone can be thankful for, such as faith, family and the huge holiday feast.
  • Andy and the Lion by James Henry Daugherty , grades k – 2. This retelling of Androclus and the Lion delivers a simple message of the power of gratitude.
  • Giving Thanks by Jake Swamp, grades k – 2. Based on the Thanksgiving Address of the Iroquois people, this version provides insight on the Native American tradition of greeting the world each morning by giving thanks to all living things. The Thankful Book teaching children about gratitude
  • The Thankful Book by Todd Parr, grades preschool – 1. This book hones in on the little things children can be thankful for, from reading and bath time to family celebrations and quality time with parents.
  • Gratitude Soup by Olivia Rosewood, grades k – 3. Perfect for teaching children about gratitude with fun and play, this rhyming, colorful picture book combines collage and watercolors as Violet the Purple Fairy tells her own story of cooking with gratitude.
  • The Blue Daisy: A Lesson in Gratitude by Stacie Theis, grades k – 2. Filled with bright, colorful illustrations, The Blue Daisy delivers a simple message about gratitude and appreciation for what one has. Bear Says Thanks teaching children about gratitude
  • Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland, grades preschool – 4. Written as a celebration of family, friends, and the Thanksgiving holiday, this book encourages children to reflect on what they’re most thankful for during the holidays.
  • Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, grades preschool – 3. In this playful and imaginative tale of family and friendship, young children will receive a great lesson on sharing and gratitude.
  • Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood, grades preschool – 3. This inspirational book teaches children about reflection and the importance of gratitude.

What are some ways that you teach your children about gratitude?