Recently my entire class organized a bake sale to raise money to adopt a few animals from the World Wildlife Fund. This was an activity I envisioned as both a Community Service and a Practical Life project. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make Community Service part of my curriculum and this is definitely one of the ways I will be doing it in the future.
Initially, I approached the class with a number of charitable organizations they might want to support:
- UNICEF–United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, which works with the UN to defend the rights of children around the globe.
- The Nature Conservancy–I suggested adopting an acre in the Northern Sierras or the Gulf Coast or possibly a Coral Reef. This was my first choice, since we’re currently studying biomes and it would have complimented that unit perfectly!
- Adopt a Classroom–I came up with this idea because I thought it couldn’t hurt to get my students thinking about others in their own country their own age needing help. Their experience of the United States is one of privilege. It’s important for them to know that’s not the case for everyone.
- World Wildlife Fund–Our donation would allow us to symbolically adopt an endangered animal.
We did a round of voting, with me assuring the class we could always support more than one organization if the enthusiasm was there. Not to mention the fact that it might be an organization they would like to support on their own. However, what with my class being animal-mad, I knew the World Wildlife Fund would sweep away all the competition. I offered it anyway. Since this was my first time attempting such an activity, their enthusiasm was key. The World Wildlife Fund won, hands down, with UNICEF being the closest runner-up.
With our charity chosen, the next step was to brainstorm fundraising ideas:
Ideas ran the gamut from penny jars to, as you can see, a charitable singing performance. Eventually, having eliminated a car wash (the drought) and selling chicks (we don’t actually have any to sell), we winnowed the list down to a bake sale. It was time for the planning to begin!
I gave the students a list of details that they’d be responsible for:
- choosing a date and time
- creating a sign up sheet for the bake sale
- getting the word out (advertising the event)
- creating a price list for the baked goods
- choosing which animals to adopt
As much as possible, I wanted the students to participate in the planning and running of the bake sale, so that it was as much a Community Service project as it was a Practical Life one. In order to chose the animals the class wanted to adopt, I printed the World Wildlife Fund’s list of available animals. The students perused the list and made top three selections in the first round of voting. I decided not to tell them that some adoptions came with stuffed animals and some didn’t, since I didn’t want that to factor into their decision-making process. We did, however, discuss the fact that the WWF categorizes the animals in three ways:
- Extinct, Extinct in the Wild or Critically Endangered
- Endangered, Vulnerable
- Near Threatened, Least Concern
This was important to some of the students, but as you can imagine, the irresistible allure of the Snowy Owl (thank you, J.K. Rowling) overrode everything else. After our first round of voting, I created a shortlist and we voted again. Not knowing how much money we would make (and wanting the class to have a goal), I narrowed our shortlist to the top three:
If we raised $100, we would adopt the Red Panda…
If we raised $200, we would adopt the Red Panda and the Tiger…
And if we raised $300, we would adopt the Red Panda, the Tiger and the Snow Leopard.
Goals. Gotta have ’em.
There were, of course, disappointments but I encouraged students to think about sponsoring an animal on their own if one they really wanted didn’t get chosen. They can do it for as little as $25.00. (Stuffed animal adoptions are more, but they didn’t know this at the time and I didn’t tell them.)
Planning went on apace. Signs were made for each of the classrooms around the school, and one large one for the bake sale table:
I paired the students up and asked them to create short speeches to inform the younger classrooms about the bake sale. They had to include the who, what, where, when and why and take any questions the students had. I was reliably informed that the questions were mostly animal-related.
On the day of our bake sale, the students decided they wanted to make one those arrow signs they could spin and twirl to attract the attention of parents in the parking lot. My lovely assistant Hannah helped them with the dangerous mat cutting and they created the arrow sign of their dreams.
Finally, the time to host the bake sale had arrived!
As you can see, we sold more than baked goods! Some students brought tangerines from the orchard behind their house. They also brought a scale so they could sell the tangerines by the pound. (I just about died with pleasure!) Another student brought her family’s honey. Students took turns being responsible for handing out baked goods, dispensing hot chocolate, recruiting parents from the parking lot, taking money and making change. As much as possible, I stood back and let them run the show. Of course, they amazed me.
In the end, the class raised enough money to adopt two animals: A red panda named Molly and a tiger named Hunter. Their names were democratically chosen by the students. Look at their proud little faces:
All in all, I really can’t wait for our next student-planned fundraiser!