Wow! Our penny drive for the Scholastic Book Fair blew me away! Remember how I was hoping to make $500? We brought in over $1400! The top two classes each had over $120 in coins collected!
Along the way, I learned a few lessons. Here’s my advice, now that I’ve experienced this phenomenon for myself.
Plan Ahead with your Bookkeeper
Does anyone else remember staring at a poster like this when you were in elementary school?
I did not realize what would be involved in actually depositing that many pennies. Have you ever thought about how much 100,000 pennies weighs? Have you ever been given the stink eye by your book keeper when you spring something on her? (No? Just me?)
It would have been a good idea to prepare my bookkeeper for massive coin deposits. I didn’t realize how many pennies we’d get. Our normal book fair deposit procedures were not enough, due to the amount and weight of the coins.
If you’re responsible for making deposits yourself, think about how you will transport a very heavy load to the bank.
Make Your Counting Count
As you count the coins for each teacher, organize the coins for your bank deposit too. I used sandwich sized zipper baggies for small groups, like 200 pennies; then I put those sandwich baggies into gallon baggies for large groups, like 1000 pennies. I labeled them all with my Sharpie marker.
I kept a list of each teacher and his or her total amount. I filled out my deposit slips as I counted, too. I did not want to count once for the teacher total and again for my bank deposit. I don’t think you do, either!
Ask your teachers to bring in what they’ve got in the middle of your coin drive. You can start the counting and depositing process early. You do NOT want to have to count every coin at the end of your drive!
I gave the teachers their empty containers back, with a sticky note telling them how much I counted for them. This also fueled the competition, as they learned how much other classes had collected.
Call It a Coin Drive
Although I said MANY times on our morning announcements that students could bring in ANY type of coin, 95% of our deposit was pennies. Maybe parents were happy to part with pennies and preferred to hang on to their silver coins. But I would call it a COIN drive instead of a penny drive next time, to see if I could get more silver coins and our deposit would weigh less.
Have I already mentioned how heavy pennies are?
Print Gift Certificates
Before you start this, print out your gift certificates. Here’s the Google Doc I created. You can view it, copy it and make it your own.
I printed mine on bright pink paper so they wouldn’t get lost on the teacher desks. I filled them out as I counted the money from each teacher’s jar. I also kept my own master list of how much each teacher could spend, just in case those bright pink gift certificates got lost.
In your Scholastic Book Fair cash register box, you’ll find the instructions for accounting for the All for Books donations and purchases. It’s easy peasy!
My teachers are over the moon happy right now! One told me she had dreams about coming to the book fair to spend her penny drive money. I can’t describe to you how delighted they are to be able to come to the book fair and buy books for their classroom!
Even though I spent several late evenings at my desk, counting filthy, heavy coins, I will definitely do this again! It has been well worth it!
I received several comments from librarians who have different twists on the coin drive.
- Beth Schaefer said: I do something similar. I do a boy vs girl competition. Monday they bring pennies, Tuesday nickel, etc. each day a winner is announced during lunch as to who gets “special privileges” until lunch the next day. This means they get to line up first, go to recess first, some teachers have special things in their class s has raised over $2000, which buys new books for teachers classrooms. The kids get so excited to come in the library during recess to see the buckets of coins to see how close it is. The best part is that 100% of the money goes to teachers since the prize costs me nothing!!
- Jen Daly said:As a former Scholastic employee and a current chairperson, I would love to point out that the money donated has three rewards: first, you ring it up as a “sale” which counts toward your total earned at the Book Fair; secondly, you purchase books with the amount directly from your own book fair, which also counts toward your total earned (So, if your kids donate $500, you will end up with a total of $1,000 more counted toward your book fair total – and you earn Scholastic Dollars on the entire $1,000.) And lastly – like Cari pointed out – Scholastic matches the amount contributed and donates it to some great charities that provide books to kids.
All for Books is an AMAZING program! Ask your field rep about it if you are not already doing it. We have done penny wars at our school and the kids love it. I give out Book Fair gift certificates to the winning team.
Thanks for sharing. Together, we’re all better!