The idea of service learning has been evolving within educational circles as teachers and administrators look to expand the world view of youth. But what is service learning and how is it different than traditional community service?

Service learning according to the National Service Learning Clearing house is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen community. Service learning combines community service with the classroom curriculum to give students the opportunity to experience classroom concepts in real life situations while broadening their world view.

Service learning can be created for all subjects matter and all ages.  To successfully develop and implement a service learning program or individual project, it is important to remember the below criteria for service learning.

  • Includes investigative process to identify meaningful service opportunity

  • Provides intentional connections to academic learning

  • Incorporate reflection throughout

  • Involves Young people in the planning process to encourage “youth voice”

Students should be involved in the process of researching and planning the community service portion of the project. It is important that students are given the opportunity to take some ownership in the projects that the class decides to incorporate. This could mean allowing older students to talk with organization program managers to talk about the needs and details of the organization.Younger students could help research and choose produce to plant in the class garden.

Here are some service learning projects, that you can adjust to fit your classroom goals or be used to inspire you to create your own service learning projects.






Homeless Drive

Social studies- learn about Poverty

Math- Organize, display, and interpret data using graphical depiction

English- Essays for intended audience. Produce Promotional material

-Research local homeless shelters and their missions.

-Connect with shelter to find greatest needs

-Invite Shelter representative to present to class

*Implement and Promote drive at school and in community.

*Collect needed products, sort collections and donate to the selected shelters.

Public Safety:

 Natural disasters

Science study causes of natural disasters

-Research school/community preparedness for disasters and how they can help those who have experienced disasters

*Develop and practice drills for senior center/school, teach younger students drill

*Implement drive to donate supplies to red cross, or plan a blood drive



Science- research agricultural factors

Health- learn about the importance of healthy eating

-Design garden

– Research care requirements for successful harvest

-Meet with local food pantry and identify needs

*Build and nurture garden and plants

*Donate to local food pantry

*Help cook healthy meal with harvest



These have been adapted from several websites. More ideas can be found at several sources: