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First graders at Almond Acres learn how to create a pop-up store 


A service and project-based learning program helps teach students important life skills

Almond Acres Academy First Graders.

Almond Acres Academy First Graders.

– Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) 1st graders are learning about how stories teach life lessons by packaging principles through “the lesson of the story.” This Service/Project Based Learning (SBPL) unit covers all academic areas, including reading, writing, art, mathematics, science, and social studies with a focus on the question, “How can stories teach us life lessons?”

“SPBL is enriching because it makes learning real and goes beyond the classroom to the community. Students will take their first step in becoming social entrepreneurs,” says service and project based learning coordinator Jeanne Serge. “Students see they are a valuable part of our community and can be agents of change.”

“If we sell enough stuff we can make enough money that the people [the residents of ECHO] will not be homeless anymore,” says 1st grader, Rylie.

SBPL improves learning because it is engaging, student centered, and teaches 21st century skills.  For example, through application of their newly gained knowledge about fables and life lessons, students will create their own list of morals to live by. They will then survey parents, interview store owners, and conduct research about practical popular items to imprint their favorite morals to “live by.”

Through surveyed information, the students created charts to determine what popular items to imprint their list on. They will then make and sell products in a pop-up store to try to make a profit. The first graders will have used math skills to determine the selling price of each product. All profits will be used to buy needed items for the ECHO homeless shelter. The students are now more aware of the needs of homeless in our community because they visited the shelter, and used iPads to create video reflections. “He could help the homeless by bringing toys from home,” one of the first graders, Gunner said, following the visit to ECHO.

About Almond Acres Charter Academy

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. The school is located in San Miguel and is open to all students in all communities. AACA’s mission is to “help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul.”

For more information, visit or call the office at (805) 467-2095.


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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.