Julia Bean’s pre-kindergarten class at the Lowell School could not build a real house for Habitat for Humanity, so instead they constructed some birdhouses that will be sold to raise money for the group that finds homes for families in need.
Last week, the class got a visit from George O’Malley, the director of projects for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Boston. He collected the colorfully painted birdhouses, which will be sold at the Habitat store in West Roxbury.
Bean reached out to O’Malley because she hoped to give the 4- and 5-year-old students a better understanding of homelessness.
O’Malley said the birdhouse project has been successful in other schools.
“It helps them understand,” O’Malley said. “As one student in Boston said, ‘we are building homes for homeless birds.’”
For some children in her class the idea of not having a home was beyond them, but it did set in for others, Bean said.
“We talked about homelessness and what else we could do beyond this,” she said. “Some said we could make more birdhouses. Others were ready to go further and said they give them their toys or sell other things.”
The children tried to come up with ways to build houses for those who need them. Along with selling their toys, they thought about selling vegetables from a garden recently started at Lowell School.
One student suggested taking the bark off of trees and making the house out of the bark, however other students worried that beavers would come and eat the house – since they eat bark. They considered putting up a sign asking them not to eat the bark, but that idea was abandoned when one student said, “beavers can’t read.”
The project also provided an excuse for the students to do some painting. They decorated the birdhouses in multiple colors and they also had a generous dose of glitter.
“This particular group loves to paint. They do it two to three times a day sometimes,” Bean said. “It was very messy and loud – the way pre-K should be.”
Each birdhouse will be sold for $35 in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (click here for more information about the store).
The dollars raised can go a long way toward building a home for a Habitat family, O’Malley said. The most recent project is a home in Roslindale that will help two families with a total of five children.
“One thousand dollars would provide hardwood floors for the whole house. It would buy five windows. It would buy almost all the cabinets for a kitchen,” O’Malley said.