Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School

Today is the first day of school for students in Fulton County, Georgia. I was reminded of this on my morning run today as I passed by children and parents waiting for the school bus on the corner. Little ones with their new lunch boxes and backpacks filled with crayons and notebooks, looking perhaps a little nervous and a lot excited. Bigger ones with their new shoes and haircuts, perhaps still a little nervous and maybe a little less excited?

I am reminded again how much I love school and how nervous I would get every year for The First Day of School. Nevermind the fact that, being from a small town, I already knew the teachers and all of my classmates were the same from the years before. It didn't matter how old I was or what grade I was in, I loved school and the first day was always exciting.

As I saw the school buses drive by and saw the kids arriving at the huge and modern high school in my neighborhood, I was thinking about my friends in Liberia and their excitement about school and learning. Those children may not have bright shiny shoes to wear to school for the first day... they may not have backpacks with crayons and pencils... they most likely do not have a lunchbox to carry their snacks... but some things are the same. I'm willing to bet that the young and not-so-young students in Liberia are feeling perhaps a little nervous and extremely excited on this first day of school. They are eager to learn!

I am reminded today of my friends in Liberia.

Friday, August 6, 2010

World Map for Mobile Classrooms

For all our crafting Friends of LOEP (you know who you are)...
This fabric panel is a great wall map for Liberian classrooms.  Well-marked, lightweight, foldable, easy to ship, and durable this cloth map of the World can easily be converted to a light-weight wall hanging that will not succumb to paper-dissolving humidity of West Africa.

This wonderful classroom visual teaching aid is available at Jo-Ann's Fabrics store for less than $5 per panel and with the current sale going on a 40% off coupon makes it an even better deal!
A crafted World Map wall hanging (or several of same) will fit perfectly in LOEP's Reading and Social Studies Mobile Classroom unit like the ones pictured here...
and here...
These units are made from recycled shipping crates, sanded and painted in kid-friendly colors then filled with classroom instructional materials for Liberian classes.  World Map wall hangings will be a great addition to the Mobile Classrooms!

More on what is needed to fill two Mobile Classrooms and where to get the items in the next posts... stay tuned

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

School Supply Lists

These kids have dreams of learning to read and write - they are motivated, eager and want to go to school.  Their teachers struggle to teach under difficult conditions in bare classrooms.  Give them a thought when you join the excitement of Back to School! 

School Supply Lists
Click on the link to print out the supply list to carry along when you go Back To School shopping. All of the items listed are available at major retail chain stores and office supply stores.

Some states in the U.S. even offer tax-free days for school supply purchases!

LOEP accepts donations of school supplies, books and cash to help support education for children in Liberia.  Contact us for more information.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Useful Tools for Bookless Classrooms

Most Liberian schools do not have libraries or supplies of textbooks and students have little opportunity for using books either as classroom texts or reference. Lessons are taught by teachers using blackboard and chalk and a single textbook while students take careful notes in their notebooks. The notebook serves as textbook and students study and do homework from the handwritten notes. Internet access is out of the question in Liberian schools - no electricity available and no computers.

LOEP has been working to find ways to help our Liberian colleagues use effective teaching techniques without books and computers. Although there is no real substitute for books (even the Internet is no substitute for books!), we have found some items to supplement blackboard lessons fairly well, and they are easy/cheap to pack and ship.
Wall posters, maps, charts are all great visuals accessible to the whole class at once. Some are quick reference guides that pack loads of information on one big, easy to read surface. The picture above is the Teacher section of our small, local Dollar Tree Store.  We find loads of posters, wall charts, room borders and other visual refrence aids for posting on classroom walls right here. Also a great source of teacher materials such as stickers, certificates, award bookmarks, etc. Can't beat the price, either!
Plenty of wall space for posters here:
Reference guides like the ones found here: http://www.barcharts.com/ are a wonderful classroom tool when books are not available. Used as a desk reference for individual students to borrow in the classroom, as a reference for a small working group of students, and for the teacher to use as a reference for blackboard notes, these reference guides pack loads of information. Already laminated, they hold up well to heavy use and Liberian humidity and, important to our limited LOEP budget, they stack, pack and ship VERY well taking up little space relative to the amount of information they hold.  Some are fold-outs with up to as many as six pages - a mini-textbook!
Last year Target carried laminated reference guides (love that Dollar Bin!). If you see them this year remember bookless Liberian classrooms.  Stuff a USPS Flat Rate Mailing Envelope full and mail to LOEP for less than $5 postage!  We do the rest to get them into Liberian classrooms.
More to come on Back to School for Liberia