Last December, Anna Middle School art students built dollhouses to donate to the Anna Early Childhood Center. Sandy Barrett, the Anna Middle School art teacher, has been in her position for 11 years. Barrett, who teaches more than 150 students, got the idea to have her pupils build dollhouses when her daughter wanted to upgrade from a kitchen play set to a dollhouse.

“My daughter attends ECC and I thought about how expensive play sets could be to the district,” Barrett said. “I wanted my students to create a donation project around Christmas time, and the dollhouse project I worked on at home came to mind.”

When Barrett presented the idea to her students, they all agreed that it was a good idea. Once the pupils were formed in groups, they each designed and built the dollhouses with the tools Barrett brought from her own workshop at home. Barrett said it was a learning experience for all the students involved.

“Most of them they have never used a drill or a hammer,” Barrett said. “I always love introducing new materials into my art room that students would never think that they could use in art.”

The class built and donated a total of seven dollhouses. They decided to donate the dollhouses to classes, so more students could have the opportunity to enjoy them. The art students drew names to see which class would receive a dollhouse.

Ryan Thomas, an eighth grader in the art class said it was a rewarding experience.

“I felt really good that we were doing something for the little kids,” Thomas said. “Creating the dollhouses was worth it. It was a challenging project using tools and selecting paint and decoration for the house because there were so many options. I loved seeing the expression of the ECC student’s faces when we brought them to their campus.”

Rawley Hector, an art class student and eighth grader, said the architectural side was also rewarding.

“The thing I liked most about the project was getting to work as a team and having one goal, which was to make the kids happy and seeing that smile on their face,” Hector said. “I got to dress up as Santa and it really got me in the Christmas spirit. The most challenging part was keeping all the stuffing in, in the Santa suit. I loved how we got to be architects when designing the houses and being able to use tools that are not normally in the art classroom.”

Barrett said she loves how the project had multiple purposes.

“I wanted my students to experience how their art could help others in need,” Barrett said. “All of my students really got in the spirit of giving and even came to school early or stayed after school to work on this project. It was definitely one of the most rewarding projects that I have ever done. I plan to do a donation project each year with my classes.”