The 2022-23 school year marks the fifth year of Madison’s Bear Project, which bridges the age gap between some of our oldest and youngest Madison students. This project involves high school students taking the imaginations of kindergartners and making them a reality – by hand.
Kindergarten students are given a worksheet where they are able to imagine and design their own bear. Students give their bear its own personality, and then color/draw what they’d like their bear to look like. High school students are then given the worksheets and create the bears in the younger students’ visions, using hand-stitching techniques to create the stuffed bears. When the project is complete, high school students gift the newly made bears back to the kindergarteners.
This project teaches creativity at the kindergarten level and the ability to take a vision and create from it at the high school level, as well as the specific hands-on techniques needed to make the bears.
“Each year the bears get more creative,” states Angela Smith, Superintendent. “The high school students take the design that the kindergarten students made and bring it to life. The kindergartners are absolutely thrilled to see that their drawings have been turned into real-life stuffed animals!”
This project honors the memory of Mrs. Smith’s parents; her mother had an extensive bear collection, and upon her passing, Mrs. Smith donated bears to classrooms. She also goes into the kindergarten classrooms to read the book Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies.
Mrs. Smith adds, “This year, the high school students added some extra special touches! The joy of this project is evident when the high school students give the finished bears to their students.”
The project alternates between elementary schools each year; this year, the project will be repeated during the second semester for the two North Elementary kindergarten classes.