[k3] Teddy Bear Ambassadors

  • From: Glovely@xxxxxxx
  • To: k3@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 6 Apr 2004 20:11:52 EDT

Here's a press release for a great project for Primary Classrooms - Traveling 
Teddy Bears!  Apply by August 13, 2004.
It is a FUN and meaningful project to consider!

Gail Lovely

SMARTer Kids Foundation accepting applications for ImagiNations, an
international collaborative learning program

Teddy bear ambassadors encourage cross-cultural understanding among children

Calgary, AB --- April 6, 2004 --- The SMARTer Kids(TM) Foundation of Canada
is now accepting applications for the 2004-2005 round of ImagiNations(TM),
an international collaborative learning program for elementary and primary
school children. Selected schools receive a box containing a teddy bear,
journal and photo album for about one month.  During this time, students are
encouraged to take the teddy bear home and document its adventures in the
journal. Teachers and students are also expected to add memorabilia to the
box such as maps, postcards, photographs and souvenirs. The teddy bear is
then sent to the next school, where its accompanying journal and memorabilia
are shared with a new class. In the 2004-2005 school year, at least 25 teddy
bears will visit more than 200 schools. Each teddy bear will travel to six
to eight schools that are grouped to ensure geographical diversity. Since
the program's inception last year, ImagiNations teddy bears have visited
more than 200 classrooms and 5,000 students around the world.

The idea for the ImagiNations program originated with a teacher who
participated in the 2001-2002 Connections program, another collaborative
learning program offered through the SMARTer Kids Foundation. The teacher
used a traveling teddy bear as a way for her students to learn about other
Connections students located throughout North America. Inspired by the
success of this concept, the foundation developed the ImagiNations program.
The aim of the ImagiNations program is to foster a collaborative learning
environment in which children develop their writing skills and are exposed
to the cultures, perspectives and experiences of their peers around the
world. Teachers are encouraged to continue building relationships with
participating schools worldwide by undertaking other collaborative learning

"The teddy bear is a universally familiar and trusted companion for children
and a great ambassador for the ImagiNations program," says Nancy Knowlton,
executive director of the SMARTer Kids Foundation. "Through ImagiNations,
the traveling teddy bears take children on a journey that explores other
cultures and viewpoints they may not otherwise experience."

The ImagiNations website contains a curriculum area to help teachers
integrate the ImagiNations program into their curriculum. The travels of the
ImagiNations teddy bears will be documented through journal entries and
photos posted at www.smarterkids.org/ImagiNations.

"One of the most amazing parts of Ariel's visit was the willingness of
students to write about her, especially students who don't want to write or
complete classroom work," says Karen Mensinger, Belfair Elementary, Belfair,
Washington, who participated in ImagiNations 2003-2004. "After I shared one
student's writing and she was praised for her efforts, the student started
turning in her classroom work! I am so appreciative of the SMARTer Kids
ImagiNations program and our chance to be part of it."

"ImagiNations has been an amazing learning experience for my students and
me," says Libby Walden, Colony Elementary, London, Kentucky, who
participated in ImagiNations 2003-2004. "Through our teddy bear, Molasses,
we studied all about Kentucky and experienced Nova Scotia, Canada, and
Toledo, Ohio. My students were thrilled to have Molasses visit us."

"I just want to thank the SMARTer Kids Foundation so much for the
opportunity to expose my students, who don't usually get a chance to see
other cultures, to people from other states," says Gwenae Mitchell, A.A.
Milne Elementary, Houston, Texas, who participated in ImagiNations
2003-2004. "I teach economically disadvantaged children who lack a lot of
exposure, and the ImagiNations program has provided them with a unique
learning opportunity."

How to Apply
Application forms are available at
www.smarterkids.org/ImagiNations/apply.asp or from the foundation office at

Applications must be received by August 13, 2004. Applicants will be
notified of their application status by August 31, 2004. Full program
details and eligibility criteria are available online.

Teachers applying to the program must teach students in kindergarten through
grade six who are able to correspond in English. 

Teachers and students are expected to contribute journal entries,
photographs and memorabilia to the teddy bear's box before shipping the bear
to its next destination. The foundation will cover costs for shipping,
journals and photo albums.

Supporting Sponsors
The ImagiNations program is made possible through the generosity of the
SMARTer Kids Foundation's supporting sponsors:

-- SMART Technologies Inc., as the foundations' founding and funding
sponsor, provides much of the vision and funding for ImagiNations

-- Ty Canada Inc. provides Beanie Buddies teddy bears that act as
ImagiNations ambassadors

-- Federal Express Canada Ltd. provides worldwide transportation for the
teddy bears and accompanying memorabilia

The SMARTer Kids Foundation is also accepting other sponsors for

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