Columbine Kids for Critters help homeless pets: Project teaches community, service economics

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Columbine Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Claudia Miller has been teaching children the basics of economics through her Kids for Critters project for 18 years but this is the first year for Columbine.

She started the project back in Ohio, working with third-graders, and has also taught it at Summit Elementary School. She has two objectives for this service-learning project: to help children help the animals and to teach them basic economics and business concepts.

“We're looking at homeless animals as a community issue that the kids can actually do something about,” Miller said. “We also connect the project to the literature we're reading in the classroom.”

As part of the project, the children make pet-related items that can be sold to raise funds for local shelters.

“They each bring in ideas for products, either a prototype or a drawing,” Miller said. “The kids look at each product and ask certain questions (listed on a bulletin board as thinking caps) that will help them decide which products should sell the best.”

These questions include:

Does the product have emotional appeal?

Will it benefit the animal?

Does the class have the resources to produce the product?

Are there any creative ways to change the product to make it sell better?

Are they safe for the animal?

Which thinking hat question will best apply to this product?

This year the class decided to make 18 products. Once that decision was made, they created production teams and have two days to produce the items. While they work on the project they learn about such things as marketing and advertising, pricing, production, customer relations, supply and demand and, finally, assessment.

The children will sell their items from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Dec. 8 at City Market in Woodland Park and at the Columbine Holiday Shop and Craft show, Dec. 11-14.

Proceeds for the sales will be given to local animal shelters and organizations, including Adoptable Animal Rescue Force, Mariah's Promise, Teller County Regional Animal Shelter, Catamount Wildlife Center and the Sunshine Shelter in Salida, which housed pets for people during the Waldo Canyon Fire. Unsold items will also be donated to the shelters.

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