Thursday, November 3, 2016

Ready, Set, Bag!

Check out these quick, no-fuss fundraisers that your community will THANK you for...

1.  Bagging for Charity.  Ask your local supermarket if your group can help bag groceries for donations.  This helps move busy lines along with no cost to the store, and earns your group monies.  Simply decorate donation jars and put at the end of every checkout line with a cheerful volunteer. Best days for this fundraiser is right before Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve. Volunteers can even help load cars for an extra perk! You'd be surprised how thankful and generous busy local shoppers can be.

2.  Wrapping for Charity.  Check with a local strip mall, popular store or even your local mall and see if your group can wrap gifts for donations.  Simply set up a large table and supply varying sized boxes, tissue paper, wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and gift cards. This fundraiser can run all month and is guaranteed to earn money and goodwill.  You may want to charge a small fee to cover the materials, and then display a  Donation Jar to collect for your efforts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Top 10 Harvest Festival Ideas For Your School!

We have harvested (no pun intended) the best Halloween and Fall Festival ideas from our customers and want to share them with you.

Halloween and Thanksgiving are right around the corner, a perfect time to bring teachers and families together for some good old fashioned fun.  You can even run your Fall Festival Night as a fundraiser by simply charging families a fee to attend.

1)  Allow children to wear their costumes.  Kids love Halloween and being able to dress up.  Many school today prohibit the wearing of costumes during the day, but what about at night?  Hint:You may want to ban play weapons or scary masks just to be safe.

2)Turn a section of the gym into a Dance Floor. Hire a DJ, or better yet find a local Teacher or Parent willing to DJ.  Turn the lights off and get those strobe lights blinking.  Paid DJs bring games, activities and props for the kids and can really get the whole room rocking.

3) Face Painting and Air Brush Tattoos are popular.

4)  The cafeteria can offer simple desserts, apple cider or water, and donuts.  The food can be donated, and not fussy.  Just another fun stop for the kids during the night.

5)  On the other side of the cafeteria, have a few easy, and not too messy, Halloween or Fall Crafts that families can work on together.

6)  Turn a classroom in a Spooky Story Telling Room.  Your favorite teachers can dress up and take turns reading scary stories.  Decorating the room even makes it spookier!

7)  Pair this fun night with your annual Book Fair, set up in the Library.  While the kids are running around having fun, the parents can be perusing and purchasing books!  Now your school earns money two ways.

8)  Jack-O-Lantern Walking Path!  Have each student bring in one or more carved pumpkins. They can drop them off morning of the Festival.  After school, both volunteers and   students can line the walking trail or a path around the school.  Light candles at a designated time (7-8pm) and let families walk the trail.  It's simply magical!

9)  For a bit more effort, fun games around the gym are fan favorites.  Bean Bag Toss, Frisbee Throw, Fishing for Gold Fish, Golf Putting are just a few.  Many families have these games in their garages, and you can easily Spook-ify them.If you offer small prize giveaways at each game like tattoos, or fake teeth or candy, even better!

10)  Kids love to see their teachers outside the classroom  Encourage teachers to come dressed in costume with arm each with a basket full of giveaway prizes.  Then, each teacher can ask the children questions....Math Facts, Spelling, History or Science.. the kids get a prize for each correct answer.

And of course, let's not forget it is the season of Thanksgiving.  Adding a Canned Food Drive to the night is a great way to serve others.

Bonus:  Google interesting Halloween or Harvest Facts.  Then create  Fact/Answer Flip Up Sheets On Oak Tag and place randomly around .  Everyone loves learning!

Click for More Enrichment Ideas

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Benefits of Cooking Classes for Kids!

The most obvious benefit of introducing children to cooking is that it is simply FUN!  Children love getting their hands messy, and creating their own edible masterpieces.  

Here are other less obvious benefits of bringing Cooking to Your School:

1)  Children that help in the kitchen are LESS FUSSY about the foods they eat and tend to try new things in their lives.

2)  Kids get to know where the food comes from and nutritional education.  They understand the differences between pre-packaged snacks and farm fresh foods. The result: children tend to MAINTAIN HEALTHIER EATING HABITS.

3)  A relaxed atmosphere in the kitchen provides a great chance for IMPROVED COMMUNICATION with children where you can discuss just about anything.

4)  Cooking IMPROVES READING & MATHEMATICAL ABILITIES.  Children need to read directions, gather information, measure ounces, teaspoons, cups etc...  For a challenge give the kids a recipe and ask them to double it!

5)  Cooking IMPROVES MOTOR SKILLS & TEACHES SAFETY.  Motor skills improve by slicing, dicing, rolling, scooping and measuring. Learning how to properly use the oven, microwave, potholders, mixers, knives, and other kitchen aids, keeps children safe in an usually unsafe environment.

6)  Cooking is a  LIFE SKILL that they can use forever!
7)  The best part is that any mom or teacher can offer a cooking program in your school, NO ADVANCED DEGREE NECESSARY.

So, get started and bring more enrichment opportunities to your school!  Using The SignUp Hub for Free Registration and Payments is the Simple Solution to run any class quickly!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

After School Programming Linked to Higher Test Scores

Yep that's right! Numerous studies suggest that high-quality after-school programs enhance students’ academic success in school. After-school programs lead to better attitudes toward school and stronger school engagement; stronger school performance, as measured by standardized test scores and grades; higher rates of school attendance; fewer behavioral problems; and lower dropout rates (Afterschool Alliance, 2008).

So the question is "does your child's school offer After School Programming?  If so, are the programs designed for the interests and development of all students or do they simply serve the needs of the athletes and techies.

It is so simple and FUN to become creative and coordinate interesting and varying after school programs that include all types of Art, Science, Sports, Community Service, Games, Robotics, Hobbies, Animals and Travel?  You can even start a DO NOTHING CLUB where the kids simply spend quality time together after school playing games or old fashioned outdoor activities like Kick the Can.

Think about bringing some fun Enrichment Weeks to Your School perhaps a
A Week of Wizardry including ...Magic Classes, Chemistry Potions, Quid ditch, Poetry and Spell Writing.  
Travel to Asia including...Asian Art Project, EggRoll Cooking Class, Mommy & Me Yoga.
HobbyLand including... Stamp Collecting, Comic Book Art, Painting, Tennis.
The number of ideas are only limited to your imagination so have fun with it!

Oh, and by the way.  Everyone in the community benefits.  The kids get to hang out with their friends after school and learn about new and interesting things, parents get a couple extra free hours at a great price, community businesses get to promote their services, and teachers can earn a few extra dollars and connect with their students on a casual and fun basis.
Win! Win! Win!

Pssst...  and don't forget to use for online Registration and Payments!  It makes your job a snap.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Here's How To Run An Awesome Enrichment Week at Your School!


4-6 Weeks before Enrichment Week
    • Meet with school administrators and complete all necessary paperwork and/or adhere to all policies of the school.
    • Decide on a theme for your enrichment week.
    • Determine how many classes each day, what and where they will be.
    • Secure instructors and fees for each class.  Once Instructor fees are established you can determine how much to charge each student.

3-4 Weeks before Enrichment Week

    • Create a brochure or Flyer to be handed out at school and Creat your SignUp Hub for Online Registration & Payments.
    • Allow at least one full week for parents to sign up and/or return their registration. Enter in all paper registrations onto your SignUp Hub.

2 Weeks before Enrichment Week

    • Enrollment should be closed now and it is time to finalize classes.  Cancel any classes with too low enrollment and refund parents.  Close Registration.
    • Print out Volunteer list from The SignUpHub and call/email for commitment (estimate 1:7 ratio volunteers to children in elementary school). 

1 Weeks before Enrichment Week

    • Send an Email reminder to all parents about their registered classes as a reminder.  
    • Allow this week to tidy up all administrative duties such as reminding instructors and volunteers (via email or phone) on the date, time, place, headcount and contact person for the enrichment week.  
    • Print out and deliver all class lists, name tags and volunteer directions and attendance sheets to the school.
    • Decide with the school on how to have children dismissed to classes. 
    • Have PTO treasurer write out instructor checks for you and review financials with him/her. The SignUp Hub will automatically summarize monies due and Instructor Fees. 
Week of Enrichment:

    • Ensure there is a point person located in the office to handle any issues or questions that may arise.  You will need to answer phones in case a parent calls as well as direct volunteers and instructors to their classrooms. 
    • Have teachers place nametags on children at end of day to help with attendance and flow.
    • Supply each volunteer with a class list and instruct them to check in/out the students to their after school activity. It is important that all attendance is done quickly and that you account for all students.  If someone is missing, check with the school nurse for absences and/or then call home. At pick up, whomever is designated to pick up the child must be noted on the check out form.  Check with your school administration if they wish parents to sign out their children or if a simple check mark is sufficient. 
    • Lastly, a volunteer should be present at the entrance to the school to direct parents to where their children are in the building.  A sign on oak tag may serve this purpose better.    

Theme Suggestions

Really anything goes here...Be Creative!  Some suggestions on some more popular themes and suggested classes are below.

Week in Disneyland could include: fencing 'Peter Pan Fencing', cartoon art, create your own gift shop Tee, any type of outside animal class 'Animal Kingdom', any international cooking or class 'Epcot Dining', monster makeup 'Haunted Mansion', magic classes , rollercoaster design , etc...

A Week at Hogwarts:
magic classes, poetry creation of spells and potions, strange animals, model trains, chemistry experiments, gym: quid ditch, art:  create your own portraits, etc...

Olympics:  any sport (i.e.  Gymnastics), international class based on where Olympics were or are being held, Iron sculpture: medals or metals?, science could include aerodynamics or speed experiments, broadcasting, film editing, cheerleading, etc...

Up in the Air:  track and field: high jumps to hurdles, paper airplanes, science experiments with air pressure, birds, kite making, wind instruments, air balloons, birdhouses, travel by plane etc...

In the Dirt:
  worms, horticulture, gardening, baseball, terrariums, clay art sculpture, intro to pottery, ant farms, cooking: desserts with chocolate pudding and Oreos and gummy worms, cake decorating with a theme, etc...

Down Under:  Australia, alligators and crocodiles, fish and aquariums, art project relating to the sea,  archeology

Travel to Asia: (or any other continent or country):  cooking, dance related to country, origami art, sushi making, art:  Chinese lanterns, map making, judo, fencing (refer to movie Mulan), jewelry making, etc...

Mind, Body and Soul:
  yoga, tai chi, any sport, community service including volunteering or card making,  stamp art card making, science:  dissection of ?, the brain, any classroom or animal topic, etc...

Lost Arts:  drama class, pressed flowers, art of conversation (concept of speed dating), fencing, jousting, horses, decoupage, cameras and photography, medieval children games, dinosaurs, Legos.

Into the Future:
  space and technology science, hip hop, sports of any kind (be creative mixing them up),  inventions, modern or recyclable art,  environmental projects (how to create a compost at home), robotics, end the week with the movie, etc...

Oh No, the Science Fair!
  Fill the week with all different types of science fair related classes.

The County Fair:  animal classes, hot air balloons, balloon animals, sewing or knitting, basics of string instruments, shot put or dung throwing, create a maze for the rats, gardening, cooking:  pies, wood crafting/signs, darts, etc...

Make Sense of It! Examine all 5 senses during the week with classes in science relating to sight or sound or smell, 3-D art projects, cooking, blindfold tasting , nutrition, sports blindfolded???, intro to anatomy and medicine, etc...

Super Hero Week:  comic strip creation, mask making, spiders, athletics/sports, villains, theatrical fighting, mutations, explosions,  healthy smoothie making, bats, geology and metals, black holes, rock climbing, newspaper reporting, super hero t-shirt making, run old TV or movies, FBI or CIA related classes, police dogs , intro to genetics etc... 

What's your Hobby?:  sewing, stamp collecting, sports,  pottery, painting or drawing, poetry creation, memory scrapbooking, jewelry making, hair styling, nail design, make up art, drama class, woodworking, cooking, rock climbing,  calligraphy,  fabric painting, refinish furniture, intro to investments etc...  

Turn off the TV!:  Jersey Shore (hair or makeup classes), Malcolm in the Middle (genetics and family dynamics), CNN (news reporting or broadcasting),  Ridiculous (film and photography), Cake Boss (cake decorating), Say Yes to the Dress (clothing design), Survivor (sports challenges), Glee (singing lessons)  ..

I want to Be?:  Classes relating to future jobs  ie.. Acting, beauty, sports medicine, robotics, FBI or Spy Investigation, cooking, survival techniques, computer programming, web design, investments, etc...

It's all Media!  Design your own webpage, How to use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc..., making Movies, Creating slideshows, Party Planning, Modeling, etc...

Determine How many Classes to Offer?
It is recommended between 4-5 classes a day for a week

Determine What Type of Classes and Where they will be run?
Generally, each day should encompass at least one:
                   a sport category (held in gymnasium)
                   an art category (held in art room)
                   a hobby category (held in classroom, cafeteria or library)
                   a science category (held in science room or classroom)
                   a miscellaneous category of learning (held in classroom)

Determine Grade Level of Each Class
You can decide to run the same classes each day for 5 days for each grade:

                   Monday - Kindergarten
                    Tuesday- Grade 1
                    Wednesday - Grade 2
                    Thursday- Grade 3
                    Friday- Grade 4-5

Or, you can run groups of grades each day ( assuming the theme is Harry Potter Week) an example:

                 Monday: Fencing (gr. 1-3)
                 Tuesday: Fencing (gr. 4-5)
                 Wednesday: Quid ditch (gr. 2-5)
                 Monday: Wizard Art (gr. K-1)
                 Tuesday:  Hermione Jewelry Making (gr. 3-5)   
Note:  this is the recommended way as it ensures that all students will be able to participate in at least one class.

Find the Instructors:
There are several ways to find instructors:
1)  Teachers in your school.  We suggest reaching out to your teaching staff.  Classes can usually generate $100 plus materials for the hour so many teachers would appreciate the opportunity to make a little extra money.  Teachers tend to be the best instructors as they are the most educationally creative and familiar with the children.

2) Parents.  Also, reach out to parents whom may have a talent or small business they wish to share.  They too are always looking for extra money and free advertising for their businesses.

3) The Internet.  The internet will become your greatest tool.  Google after school activities, either specifically like” Judo in Maine" or more general like "after school science programs in Watching County, Nebraska". See what comes up and start making phone calls.  Many businesses do or will come to your school and engage the children. You will be amazed how many opportunities there are right in your own neighborhoods.  Note, many companies usually have fees in excess or the $100/hour so please make sure you price your classes accordingly.  Negotiate, Negotiate...everyone is looking for work!

4)  Local businesses.  Tap the more popular athletic, interest and art facilities in your town.  Most love to come
and do a one hour class just to pass out their cards and promote interest.

Pricing your Classes:
You may either price out this program to break-even or to make a profit.  The profit can go to benefit the school's PTO/A.  You may price out the classes all the same $ amount which makes for easier accountability (our suggestion) or you may charge different amounts based on the fees of the instructors.

For example, a teacher running a class may charge $100 plus materials (let's assume an additional $40 for materials), for a total class expense of $140.   If you assume 14 in the class, you should charge $10 each child. If you wish to profit, I would charge $12/child.  Example 2:  Another class may run $275 for an hour (let's assume local zoo program) but can hold up to 24 students so the cost per class would be $12 ($275/ 24 students).  To run this class at a profit, you would charge $14.

I would avoid charging more than $15 /hour as it deters involvement.  You may also want to adjust your fees based on your state and location.  These numbers apply to the northeast, but you may wish to offer your teachers $75/hour and charge the students less if you are running the program in Nebraska or North Carolina, a lower cost region.  My examples below assume rates for the northeast:

Your worksheet:

Classes          Class Cost          #students          B/E (Break-even)Student Cost      
Class 1             $140                    14                       $10
Class 2             $140                    14                       $10
Class 3             $225                    24                       $10
Class 4             $175                    20                       $9
Class 5             $175                    20                       $9
Class  6             $275                   24                       $14
Class 25           $100                    14                       $7

Total                $4,250                 425                    $10

Plus Profit        $2/child                                           $12 (gives you $850 profit)
                       $4/child                                             $14 (gives you $1700 profit)

note 1:    don't forget to allow some wiggle room for classes not filling up completely.  This will happen.  If class enrollment drops below the minimum number you can choose three options:  1) incur a loss for one class but still hold it 2) cancel the class and refund monies 3) or ask the instructor to take less in fee for running the class.

note 2:  In the above example we would suggest charging $14 for each class which allows for easier accounting plus monies for wiggle room and up to a $1700 profit for only one week.

Final Notes:  
    • This last week should have been spent finalizing and printing out lists, nametags, confirming instructors and volunteers. 
    • Make sure each teacher has a list of their students and where they are going for the week along with name tags.
    • A Master List should be posted in the office.  Remember, all this is easily accessed with a click of the button on The SignUp Hub.
    •  Volunteers and Instructors should arrive to the school 15 minutes early to set up and prepare for the children.
    • A designated spot to meet should be arranged.  You, or another point person, should be at the school to greet them, review quickly the process and lead them to their classrooms.
    • Volunteers will be handed a binder with a class list and instructions.  

    • All necessary paperwork has been filed for the Enrichment week.  All dates and themes are confirmed with the school and PTO.  
    • Classes and Instructors are booked.   
    • Brochure/Flyer was created and The SignUp Hub was setup for Online Registration & Payment. Allow at least 1 week for registration to be open.
    • Classes were finalized and closed and head count in each approved.
    • Purchases automatic Email Reminder function OR send out email reminders the day before each class.
    •  Main Office List, Class  Lists and Name tags were printed off and distributed to the school.
    • If classes were cancelled due to low enrollment, refunds were distributed electronically and Instructor Checks received from the Treasurer.
    • Parent Volunteers (at least 1 per class minimum) were confirmed.  Lead volunteer in Front Office mandatory!
    • Signage for where parents can pick up children hanging in front hall OR volunteer to direct them with Master List handy (many parents don't remember what class their child is attending on which day).
    • MOST IMPORTANTLY AND TO BE REPEATED IN THESE INSTRUCTIONS:  Volunteers must QUICKLY take attendance at the start of all classes.  All children must be accounted for.  You may need to refer to school nurse list for absentees.  If a child is unaccounted for, emergency contacts/parents must be called until child is found or parent notified.  Volunteers must have a check mark or parent’s signature for release of children.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Time to Start Using Online Registrations

It's 2016 and it's time to hand over that stack of papers and surrender to the way of the future - technology. Paper is totally out and anything and everything online is totally in, including online registration forms.

Here's what you need to know to join the cool kids again:

1. Online registration forms can help you reduce cost by as much as 45%.  Managing your registration process online eliminates printing and postage costs, as well as allows staff to maximize their productivity.  Register, modify, cancel and refund attendees with the click of button - no tedious paperwork or data entry needed. Even allow attendees to modify their registrations themselves.  Securely collect payments online, so you don't have to track down payments by check.  Clone previous event registration forms for easy reuse.

2. Web-based registration forms are eco-friendly.  Go green and save a few trees.  With online registration forms, there is no need to print hundreds of copies of a registration form.  Collect the registration information you regard to be critical and even upload important event documents such as brochures, event agendas, exhibitor lists, session descriptions and parking information to be downloaded by attendees upon completion of the registration process.  

3. Tracking and reporting on the registration process is easier and more efficient online.   Keeping track of event registrations when some come via fax, some are received by mail and some occur on-site can be an overwhelming task.  Online event registration forms can be accessed anytime and anywhere by any computer or smartphone connected to the internet.  Several presentation-ready reports are available in real-time including participant lists, payment balances, wait lists, name tags and more.  

4. Online registration forms will increase registration numbers by 21%.   It is no secret that in today's world we all feel stretched for time.  Filling out a paper registration form, completing a credit card authorization form, sending a fax or worse, going to the post office, is just a pain.  Invitees may have every intention of registering for the event, but before they know it, the deadline has passed or it is simply more effort than it is worth.  Online registration forms allow invitees to quickly and conveniently register from their computers or on the go.   

5. Web-based registration forms allow for maximum form customization. There is only so much information that can fit onto a 8x11 sheet of paper.  However, dynamic, multi-track, multi-session registration forms can be built online.
We know it is hard to teach an old dog a new trick but if you are still using paper registration forms, we strongly encourage you to try managing your registration process online. The value goes well beyond the five benefits we have presented. 

Learn more about starting your FREE registration online.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

It Just Makes Cents!

We wanted to share a great idea from Stony Lane Elementary School, North Kingstown RI.

When their families became tired of purchasing Candles.. or Wrapping Paper... or Pies, they simply ran a pure Donations Campaign called "It Just Makes Cents".

So, rather than getting a fraction of the profits of sales, the PTO got it all.  They asked families for simply a $20 donation (or more) and raised over $6,000 in a effort needed!

Sometimes Less is More.  Great idea Stony Lane!  Thanks.