Blue Jeans Drive: AKOH Project

Service Learning Project


Best Users:

Educators Grades  04-12, Public Children’s Librarians, School Librarians, Community Groups, Faith Groups

Best Audience:

Children Grades 04-12
In the stunning debut novel, Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith (Random House Children’s Books) two very different characters—a black boy who loses his home in Hurricane Katrina and a white boy in Vermont who loses his best friend in a tragic accident—come together to find healing.

The “Another Kind of Hurricane” Project (AKOH Project) hopes to inspire classrooms and other groups of readers to build connections to other schools or communities in need. We know that reading fiction builds empathy and we know that children can feel powerless when disaster strikes in their hometown or in other parts of the world. The AKOH Project seeks to turn empathy into the power to help and to connect.

While the guide encourages you to develop your own unique project with your readers, we do offer two sample projects in this guide:

Blue Jeans Drive

This project encourages a school or other group to identify a sister classroom or group in an affected community and hold a blue jeans drive for that community. Families are asked to donate a pair of new or used jeans and leave something in the pocket (like a marble or letter) as a community-to-community connection.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Magic Marbles

The art and writing project asks readers to explore the ideas of Passion, Grit, Self-Discipline, and the ability to “Break Through Brick Walls,” and finally how they come together to make Perseverance. That exploration in words and ideas is collaged into a plastic ball to create one’s own marble. Watch one come together:


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“All middle grade students stand at a proverbial crossroads. These ‘small, yet mighty,’ when asked, bring a unique perspective to 21st century issues. They truly care about making connections with others–making a difference in the process. A shared experience, like the one Ms. Ellis Smith’s initiative provides, is what students like mine crave. By nature, children are beautifully curious beings. It must be our goal as their teachers to constructively mold and channel this innate curiosity. Thank you for encouraging educators to value community service projects that teach our kids what it means to think critically, problem solve, and demonstrate compassion for students from all walks of life.
—Ms. Ashlea-Nichole Skiles, Auten Road Intermediate School, Grade 6 teacher of literacy



Another Kind of Hurricane Project (PDF)


Another Kind of Hurricane
By Tamara Ellis Smith
Published by Random House Children’s Books
ISBN 9780553511932
Age Range: 9- Adult

A hurricane, a tragic death, two boys, one marble. How they intertwine is at the heart of this beautiful, poignant book. When ten-year-old Zavion loses his home in Hurricane Katrina, he and his father are forced to flee to Baton Rouge. And when Henry, a ten-year-old boy in northern Vermont, tragically loses his best friend, Wayne, he flees to ravaged New Orleans to help with hurricane relief efforts—and to search for a marble that was in the pocket of a pair of jeans donated to the Salvation Army.

Rich with imagery and crackling with hope, this is the unforgettable story of how lives connect in unexpected, even magical, ways.

“Elegant prose and emotional authenticity will make this title sing not only for those who have experienced tragedies, but for everyone who knows the magic that only true friendship can foster.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review



  1. Love this!! Go, Tam, and thanks for sharing, Kirsten 🙂

    • Soon, you TOO will be on this site with a programming guide!!

  2. This looks amazing, and I love the Magic Marble project!!

    • Tam tried it out with kids in NOLA and it worked beautifully!


  1. Another Kind of Hurricane: Giveaway | Curious City DPW - […] Service Learning Project The “Another Kind of Hurricane” Project  hopes to inspire classrooms and other groups of readers to…
  2. Beyond Your Identity: MSLA Resources | Curious City DPW - […] View & Download the FREE Service Learning Project connected to Tamara Ellis Smith’s middle grade Katrina novel, Another Kind…
  3. The Healing Library: Creating Kits on New Topics | Curious City DPW - […] Climate Change/Natural Disaster Another Kind of Hurricane: Connecting with Communities in Need […]

Leave a Reply