Biggest, Best Fair Jam-Packed with Fun Activities

By Tammy Petschke, Book Fair Chairperson at Carpenter Elementary School in Cary, NC
Donuts with DadOur fall 2016 Book Fair was the biggest and best to date. I attended a Book Fair Workshop and was motivated by the amazing ideas presented. I met with my Scholastic Rep the following week to get more insight into how the programs worked.
The “All for Books” program grew by 75% from last year to ensure that all 200+ Carpenter students on reduced/free lunches were able to choose a book of their own.
A “Coin Challenge” was held to collect pennies, nickels, dimes, etc. for the “All for Books” fund. In less than six days $1,701 was raised. The top four donating classes won pizza and ice cream parties with all the goodies donated by local businesses. The top two class teachers won $25 in Scholastic Dollars. The top class raised $219 and won a silly string war with the VP.
Not only did All For Books ensure every child could choose a book, but 75% of the teachers’ wish lists were fulfilled with this fundraiser!
Other pre-fair efforts to get students excited included Book Fair Bingo! Each day, a book title from the fair flyer was announced. The first two classes to call “Bingo!” won an ice cream party and $25 Scholastic Dollars for their teachers.
During a Teacher Preview Breakfast we served donuts, coffee and juice while attendees completed their wish lists. Two $25 Scholastic certificates were awarded. A second preview event was organized for teachers who could not attend the breakfast. Pirate themed buckets with “fish & chips” (Goldfish Crackers & Pringles) were distributed and another raffle for $25 Scholastic Dollars was held.
A Grandparent email was also sent out to families. A dozen grandparents sent in a total of $180 in gift certificates and $70 for the All for Books funds. Thank-you letters with pictures were mailed back.
We held two “Donuts with Dad” breakfasts which raised $3,000 in sales.
Students also guessed how many “cannonballs” and “gold bars” (candy) were in jars. Winners won $5 Scholastic certificates, candy, plus a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of 14 donated toy gift baskets on display in the library.
Raffle tickets were also distributed throughout the fair to students for attending special book fair events, for every book fair parent volunteer hour given, and for every $5 spent at the fair. When the book fair opened, happy students shopped and earned raffle tickets over the course of the two-week event.
We held a Book Fair night with fun activities like the Scholastic Toolkit Scavenger Hunt, face painting -- mingling with Clifford was an incredible conclusion! Three area food trucks came and families enjoyed dinner and free ice cream. The turnout was amazing! The library was filled with families and shelves were becoming bare by the end of the night.
Final sales for this year’s book fair were $18,770, a $5,194 (38%) increase over last year’s sales! Total funds raised for All for Books was $1,761!
As a first time Chairperson, my advice to others is to attend the free workshop and get as educated as possible about all the great ideas and tools in the Toolkit. I'm the type of person that likes to have instructions...I want to know exactly what needs to be done.
Start planning early! After I attended the workshop, I got to work brainstorming what events I would do, writing donation letters, typing up flyers, etc.
Also, find a reliable volunteer to coordinate your Donuts with Dad event. This brought in $3,000 in a 90-minute period. It needs to be planned, advertised and executed well, but it is well worth the extra work.
Finally, do the fun events leading up to the fair start like All for Books and Bingo. The book fair is exciting as-is, but kids love all the fun games. Even if your school struggles with getting dates/events communicated, the kids will go home talking about it non-stop. Their excitement fuels the fair and the parents love being part of it.