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A measure of kindness

Students learn about quantities while assembling snack bags for food bank
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Fourth-graders Abigail Fellman, left, and Galen Hayes scoop fruit into snack bags Friday at Bellview Elementary School in Ashland. Julia Moore / Daily TidingsJulia Moore
 Posted: 2:00 AM April 19, 2014

Fourth-grade teacher Sheri Preskenis' classroom was abuzz Friday with busy students assembling hundreds of snack bags and dog food sacks for the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.

The Bellview Elementary students measured out dog food into paper sacks they had decorated with pictures of pups and the words "dog food" on each.

"I think it's really cool what we're doing because it's a way to help people in your community who have dogs," said Bella Lemhouse, 10.

The dog bags will be picked up by the food bank Monday, along with about 1,200 oatmeal topping snack bags students were preparing.

The snack bags will then be given to the YMCA, and used at Healthy Kids Day at the health club Saturday, April 26.

The free community event lasts from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes hands-on activities including a bounce house, face painting and kayaking and scuba activities in the YMCA pool. There also will be cooking demonstrations, nutrition information and information on community health resources.

In an assembly line fashion, students Friday afternoon took plastic zippered bags and filled them with 1/4 cup dried fruit, 3 tablespoons golden raisins and 1/2; teaspoon brown sugar and cinnamon to act as flavorful toppings to oatmeal.

Fourth-grader Abigail Fellman said the toppings would help the oatmeal taste better.

"We're making packets with fruit and cinnamon to go on top of oatmeal, which is yucky," she said.

The snack bags and dog food are helping to teach students about units of measurement — part of a year-long exploration into measurements the class has been doing.

In October, the class worked with recipe measurements, and in January they participated in a school-wide canned food drive, collecting and sorting the cans by expiration date.

Thanks to a grant called "Measurement Mania" from the Ashland Schools Foundation, the class also collected materials for a rag quilt, learning length measurements.

"Measurements are all around us, and they just don't realize it," said Preskenis. "Hopefully they can read recipes now when their parents are cooking and understand."

Preskenis said the class was excited to help put together dog food bags.

"They love that of course, because they're helping the animals," she said.

Fifteen minutes into the activity, students had assembled about 100 oatmeal topping bags.

"We just have 1,100 more to do," said Preskenis.

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at

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