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Serving Federal and Tribal Clients

Service Learning Incorporating Native American Values

by Cree Whelshula

Service learning is a unique combination of academics and community service. Service learning activities are thoughtfully prepared to both benefit others and purposefully incorporate subject areas like mathematics, science, reading/writing, etc. In a study published by the University of Nebraska, service learning was found to positively impact children in various capacities. This type of learning empowers youth, and gives them a sense of purpose and self-worth, and self-efficacy. It has also shown to increase student’s sense of civic responsibility, improved leadership skills, and leads students into activism. In addition, students’ academic performance improved in areas like writing and critical thinking. 

Example of Service Learning: In the Fall, students can assist in making kindling bundles for Elders (this would be around kindergarten age). They can count out bundles of 20 and tie them together. They can keep a log or journal for how many bundles they have made. They can make cards that go with the bundles that gives the Elders “warm wishes” for the Winter. This activity hits on: math, writing, and fine motor development. It can also include science, if the teacher does lessons prior talking about trees and how they grow, which kinds are the best for fires to keep warm, where they grow, etc. *tip* Ask your local Forestry Department or Area Agency on Aging / Elder Services if they can assist with getting the wood.