Classroom Fundraiser! World Wildlife Fund

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!


Mixed Bag Fundraiser Book Wish List

Mixed Bag catalogs went home last week! For those of you left in this world that don’t know about the¬†Mixed Bag Fundraiser, I do it to¬†raise money for books for the classrooms. Every year new and exciting books are published and I believe classroom libraries should be living and growing things, especially as we teachers work to create children who grow in to adults who love books.

Just to get you excited about some of the books you can help us add to our classrooms, I thought I’d show you some of the exciting titles we’d love to share with your children.


Botanicum¬†is the latest addition to Big Picture Press’ Welcome to the Museum series. Last year’s Mixed Bag fundraiser allowed us¬†to purchase¬†Historium, Maps, and¬†Animalium, all of which are equally gorgeous and fabulously illustrated.¬†Maps is particularly wonderful and I can’t wait until¬†The Story of Life is published in the United States.

Writer’s Toolbox Series

The Writer’s Toolbox series introduces writing to children in language they can understand, with appealing illustrations and step-by-step instructions. The books don’t take the place of the lessons we give, but enhance them. They can even inspire students to explore new areas of writing in their free time.

On Earth

A sweetly illustrated discussion of our planet,¬†On Earth discusses some of our planet’s most difficult to grasp¬†concepts in simple, easy-to-understand ways. I particularly enjoy the dichotomous illustration of night and day:

Feathers: Not Just for Flying

If you have ever explored the natural world with a young child, you probably have experienced their fascination with feathers. Feathers: Not Just for Flying explores the many functions these gorgeous appendages offer the avian world, and does it with words and illustrations:

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes is actually a book I saw at a Montessori Conference. It’s an introduction to all those tiny organisms we can’t see with the naked eye–which can engender curiosity about microscopes. It also discusses how things that appear to happen invisibly are only really invisible to the naked eye–like microbes breaking food down into compost and turning milk into yogurt.

Somewhere in the World Right Now

It was actually the endpaper that caught my eye with¬†Somewhere in the World Right Now. It features a time zone map of the entire world, and it’s a good thing it does, because that’s the topic of the book. It explores what’s happening at the same exact moment around the world.

National Geographic Kids World Atlas

I’m also hoping for two more of the National Geographic Kids World Atlases. We have a few others in the room, but this is the one I like best. It continually proves to be the best resource for us. I’d love to have a few more on hand!

But maybe you should ask your children. What books would they like to see in the classroom?

Don’t forget!

Mixed Bag orders are due this Friday, September 30.

If you prefer to shop online or have out-of-town friends or family, MSO also gets 40% of your online purchase at Mixed Bag!¬†Visit the Friends and Family Fundraising Page and enter MSO’s fundraising code:


Mixed Bag Fundraiser Book Wish List

Mixed Bag catalogs went home last week and never let it be said that I’m afraid to pump my own fundraiser. It’s for a good cause, folks! I’m raising money for books for the classrooms, which is my personal cause du jour. Okay, maybe my cause du d√©cennie (decade, for you non-French speakers).

Last time, in order to get you excited about the Mixed Bag Fundraiser, I showed you some of¬†their¬†products. This time I thought I’d show you some books–the exciting flip side:

Montessori Work Books

Montessori board books from June Books by Bobby and June George:

A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles¬†by Thich Nhat Hanh is a book I saw at an American Montessori Society Conference. It’s perfect for any classroom’s Peace Corner, as it has sweet, simple instructions on pebble meditation.

Make Your Own Inuksuk by Mary Wallace is cool in so many ways, I can’t tell you how much I want this book. It’s a history lesson, an art lesson and a spacial lesson all in one.

This book addresses a challenging concept for lots of children: making mistakes.¬†Beautiful Oops¬†focuses on the mistakes we make while making art, but it’s really a life lesson. The book takes a look at why it’s okay to make a mistake and how you can actually turn one into something beautiful.

A sweet and funny look at both friendship and how words can be hurtful (with a happy ending, I promise!), Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld is perfect for the young and the old.

Next year, Disney will be releasing a live action version of Rudyard Kipling’s¬†classic¬†Jungle Book.¬†I’ve decided to read the book aloud to my students for a little unit I like to call “A Book and a Movie.” I’ll read The Jungle Book, we’ll take a class trip to see the movie in theaters and then we’ll discuss differences and similarities. (So fun! I particularly want this copy, from the Puffin Classics set, as I have a number of other books in the series, including Kiplings¬†Just So Stories.)

But maybe you should ask your children. What books would they like to see in the classroom?

Don’t forget!

Mixed Bag orders are due this Friday, September 18.

If you prefer to shop online or have out-of-town friends or family, MSO also gets 40% of your online purchase at Mixed Bag!¬†Visit the Friends and Family Fundraising Page and enter MSO’s fundraising code:


Mixed Bag Fundraiser: Money for Books

It’s my ongoing goal to build my classroom library. After all, writers don’t stop writing. Wonderful new books are written and published all the time and are just waiting to enrich our lives. To that end, every year I like to chair a fundraiser to raise money for new books for the classroom.¬†This week, MSO begins an old/new fundraiser, one that has been popular in the past:

Mixed Bag Designs was founded in 2008 by two mothers living in the San Francisco Bay Area who had a lot of experience with fundraising for their children’s schools. They had realized that most of the products out there for school fundraisers weren’t really useful in our day-to-day lives. How much frozen cookie dough and candles can one person really need? [They] felt that if [they]¬†could offer something that people would actually use, it would in turn help raise fundraising profits.

Today I thought I’d show you some of what Mixed Bag Designs has to offer. I’ll start with a few items I have from Mixed Bag:

The Double Trunk Bin

This collapsible bin makes trunk cleaning a snap. I love it because it keeps the random assortment of items in my trunk in one well-defined, transferable place. When it’s time to get the car cleaned, I simply remove the bin and replace it later–no muss, no fuss. (I also know a couple of people who have the Car Trash Tote that attaches to the back of a seat. Maybe I should get one this time around!)

The Drug Store Bag

Smaller than the grocery bag, the Drug Store Bag is a great hold-all for those in-between times. It’s wide enough to fit papers and a few binders or a couple of books, and yet small enough to carry a couple of lunch containers without taking up all the fridge space.

Insulate Zip Lunch Tote

This lunch tote is my day-to-day lunch bag. I love it. It’s just the right size to fit a large glass container plus a few accessories. It cleans easily and the handle is sturdy and woven. It’s described as insulated, but since I always refrigerate my lunch, I don’t worry about the fact that the insulation feels pretty thin. If I had one complaint, it would be that this is strictly a girl’s lunch tote–it doesn’t come in the “boy” patterns.

Here are few new items that look fun:

Grater Set

I have a grater set similar to this, but I like this one for two reasons: one, the interchangeable blades come with handles and two, the incline undoubtedly makes using them easier.

Foldable Grocery Bag Set

Mixed Bag’s “thing” has been the woven polypropylene bags shown above, but I was glad to see that they’re now also making the foldable style bags that fit in your purse. Sometimes shopping comes upon you unexpectedly. I love being able to provide my own bag whenever I can.

Mixed Bag Designs has lots of other items, just waiting for your perusal. Catalogs will be going home this week, so watch your child’s parent file! If you’d like to shop online–or you have friends or family willing to support the school, visit the Mixed Bag site and don’t forget to enter the school’s fundraiser ID:


Thank you for your support!

Fall Fundraiser for Books: Tupperware and Equal Exchange

Raise Money for Books for Room 8!

I’m pleased to announce a fundraiser that is near and dear to my heart. I’m a teacher on a mission (well, several missions, actually), but this particular¬†mission is to build my classroom library! To that end, I’m helping to¬†run the Montessori School of Ojai’s Fall Fundraisers. We’re teaming up with¬†two businesses (one with chocolate and one with pink pretties!) in an effort to raise money for our school. I’ve already earmarked my share of funds for new books for the classroom and I can’t¬†wait to sit down with my students and make a shopping list!

Take a look:

Fundraiser One:

Equal Exchange
equal exchange

Equal exchange is offering all kinds of goodies (all¬†Fair Trade!) range from coffee to chocolate to tea to jewelry. Check your parent file in your child’s classroom or click on the image above to see the fundraising catalog.

Fundraiser Two:


An additional 10% of the proceeds is being donated by MSO parent Lisa Baltchelder-Hetrick.

Again, the fundraising catalog was sent home in the parent files last week, but if you’d like to purchase something online to support MSO (and help buy books for my classroom!), follow these directions:

  1. Visit Lisa’s Tupperware Website
  2. Click on the FIND A PARTY button near the bottom of the page. It’s hot pink–you can’t miss it!
  3. At the top of the next page, click on FIND A FUNDRAISER.
  4. The next page will have a listing of fundraisers by state. Click on the listing for California.
  5. The listings are in alphabetical order, so navigate the pages until you reach the one called “MSO Fundraiser.” That’s us!

I’ll leave you with a few words on Classroom Libraries and why they’re important:

  • The greater the variety of books available to the children, the more likely they are to read.
  • A wide range of books in varying reading levels¬†is not just helpful in a classroom library, but requirement. Especially in a Montessori classroom!
  • Books are great for everything! From math and language, history and geography, art and cultural subjects. I use them all the time when I’m lesson planning, doing art projects or leading a council.
  • Even classics need replacing. I’ll never get my students to read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing if it looks like this:

I seriously have this 1972 edition in my classroom.

  • But this edition might stand a chance:

Bright colors! Big text! A turtle!


So get shopping!

Check out my ever-expanding Classroom Library Wishlist on Amazon


Classroom Harvest Moon Projects 2014!

Join us!

All the classrooms, from the Big Side to the Little have been hard at work on their Harvest Moon Live Auction Projects. Harvest Moon is our biggest fundraiser of the year, but it’s also a time to showcase the students’ work. This year, we’ve all outdone ourselves! So I decided to send treat everyone to an advanced glimpse at some of the beautiful projects the students helped to make this year:

Room 1:

Look At Me Adirondack Chair

Room 1 Harvest Moon

Room 1 students drew self-portraits, which were then transferred onto the beautiful wooden Adirondack chair you see above. Additional decorations were lovingly added by parent (and grandparent!) volunteers.

Room 2:

One-of-a-Kind Quilt

Room 2 Harvest Moon

Handprints never fail to appeal, and Room 2’s inspired the quilt pictured above. Both colorful and cozy, this quilt would be a lovely addition to any bed.

Room 3:

Handprint Batik Quilt

Room 3 Harvest Moon

As I said–handprints are always delightful. Room 3’s headed in a tropical direction, however, with exotic batik fabrics and bright, splashy colors. Plus, those cute little hands!

Room 4:

Peacock Coffee Table

Room 4 Harvest Moon

You might have some competition for me on this one, since I love peacocks! Also, Room 4 is the Infant room, so their foot and handprints are the cutest of all. And congratulations to Jeannette on her first ever Harvest Moon project! It’s gorgeous!

Room 6:

Houses and Trees Bookshelf

Room 6 Harvest Moon

Room 6 is painting houses and trees on the sides of a handsome wooden bookshelf. Each student designed his or her own house using inset shapes and then painted a tree from one of the four seasons of the year as part of the classroom’s unit on seasons. In addition to the shelf, this auction item will also come with a starter library. You should see the books piling up, just waiting to go home with someone!

Room 8:

 Arabic Tile Fire Pit

Room 8 Harvest Moon

Room 8 has been using¬†geometric shapes to create Arabic-inspired tiles for a fire pit surround. We’ve been looking at tiles on the internet and in books and practicing making tiles using the insets. When it was finally time to do the real work on the real tile, the kids were so excited!

Room 9:

Floral Dining Set

Room 9 Harvest MoonRoom 9 students have been hard at work plying their needles, embroidering flowers on table runners, napkin rings and wine glass markers. They’ve been incredibly focused and all their work has definitely paid off.

If you haven’t already stopped by your child’s classroom to see their Harvest Moon project, I suggest you do so by Friday. You’ll have a chance at the event, but there are few things more delightful than seeing the joy on the children’s faces when they show their parent’s these special, collaborative projects.