With many problems facing Hurricane Sandy victims, Chapman Elementary fifth graders are concentrating on emotional well-being.
After brainstorming ways to help victims of the late October super storm that brought damage and death to the northeastern part of the country, Patrick Callicotte's fifth graders are sending something that will try to take worry away.
"I wasn't sure what I was going to be doing," Callicotte said. "All I knew is I wanted to create some kind of product that lets them know we're thinking of them.
"Really the idea for worry dolls came from listening to students as they were working in groups," he said.
Fifth-graders in Callicotte's art class discussed ways to help hurricane victims during their one period a week with him focusing on housing, transportation and emotional impacts.
"In the emotional groups, a lot of them focused on different art works we would create and send to them," Callicotte said.
"Some kids made little goofy mustaches that would make them laugh," he said.
"We also did transportation and housing as well. I had groups creating above-ground railways that could go over New York City and hotels to hold a lot of people and could be built in a short time ... .
"The biggest focus with the project is how student-driven it's been, especially with problem-solving stuff," Callicotte said.
Lauren Weiss liked a few of the ideas the class came up with.
"I like the dream catchers and worry doll ideas so they won't worry," she said.
"Our team thought of the dream catcher," Lauren Perry said. "It can catch all the bad dreams and the good dreams pass through the hole in the middle so they have no bad dreams."
The class will send worry dolls to a school in Brooklyn this week. Some will be finished and others will be in kits the students can construct themselves.
"It actually is really simple, much more simple than it looks," Callicotte said of the construction of the dolls.
"We put together basic instructions. My students can complete one in a class period."
As students put together worry dolls last week, personalizing the small dolls made of pipe cleaners with scarves, skirts and wild hair, Kylia Johnson said she hoped the dolls comforted the students in Brooklyn.
"The worry dolls feel the worry instead of them," she said. "Then they have no nightmares."
"I think they'll be happy people are thinking about them," Margaret Marando said. "They know people care about them."
"They're not on their own," Johnson added.
Logan Rich liked the idea of worry dolls so much, he created some on his own.
"My aunt's dog died and she really needed one," he said. "I made a bunch."
Along with discussing ways to help Hurricane Sandy victims, students got updates from Brooklyn.
A Chapman Elementary School counselor knows another guidance counselor at a Brooklyn school.
"She came in and talked about what a child would feel like going through something like Hurricane Sandy," Callicotte said.
It wasn't easy to fit the project into the schedule, but Callicotte said it was worth it for a lesson in helping others and problem solving.
"I feel like so often when people talk about problem solving, it's only an academic thing. You're only solving math problems or scientific problems," he said.
"What I was really hoping to get at is problem solving is bigger outside of academics... . For kids this was thinking beyond the classroom, this school and the community."