My sixth graders are what we call Big Buddies to students in the first grade class (aka, our Little Buddies). About once a week our groups get together to share an activity. There are so many benefits to having a school-wide mentoring program like this.
For younger students it provides:
- Friendships that help them feel safe in the building and on the playground
- Assistance with tasks they cannot complete alone
- Role models for learning how to be good students
- Connections with others outside of their classroom
- Familiarity with teachers who they may have in the future
- Develop interpersonal and leadership skills
- Make friendships outside of their classroom
- Develop sensitivity to younger children
- Reinforce the things they've learned
And for both groups and teachers it provides a lot of fun!
This week the first graders visited our class and we had the chance to share with them what we've been learning about amphibians. First we showed them a video clip on the stages of frog development. I then gave instructions from the front of the room on how to make an origami hopping frog.
It was quite beautiful to watch as the sixth graders helped their little buddies before folding their own frogs. After six simple steps the frogs were leaping and the first graders were gleaming. (I wish I could post pictures of their faces.) The students finished up by using markers and scrap paper to give each frog a distinct personality.
If you don't have a mentoring program in your school, I suggest you ask a fellow teacher to team with you and start one. In other words, get hopping!