Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lemonade Stand

For better or worse, fundraising is part of going to school in America. Every school does it, from the most expensive private institutions to the most underfunded public schools. And while this kind of education funding results in all kinds of unfairnesses and imbalances, if you have a child in school you're going to be involved in fundraising one way or another, like it or not. I'll confess that as a preschool parent, I simply found it an aggravation and would generally just write a check in lieu of participating in initiatives like selling holiday wrapping paper or frozen cookie dough, but as a teacher I've come around on the topic, if only because these kinds of endeavors are one way to bring the entire community together around a common cause.

It's even better if you can put the children at the center of the fundraising in a meaningful way.

Charlie L.'s mom Shelly had the idea of selling lemonade during our summer session, not just once or twice, but every day. The kids make the lemonade themselves . . .

. . . measuring, mixing, stirring, tasting, and taking turns.

We started off by just selling it from a table in front of the school, but one day Ella's mom Jaimee, and Dennis, Vivian, and George's dad Terry took on the task of working with the kids to build a real lemonade stand from PVC pipe.

The kids then sell their lemonade for 50 cents a cup to one another, their parents, and even (rarely) to passersby. Many of the children have been very excited to be entrusted to keep track of their own lemonade coins, taking them in and out of pockets and backpacks throughout the day to show me they still have them. I overhear them discussing their lemonade money, comparing their coins and bills, discussing how many cups they can buy. Dennis even started bringing extra money to buy cups for "special" girls.

It turned out that the lemonade stand was too tall for the younger kids, so they had to work from the top of a step ladder.

The children served, purchased, collected money, and made change.

And, of course, they enjoyed the refreshingly tart fruits of their labors.

It's an endeavor we do together. Charlie L. is a strong advocate for spending the money on new trains.

Terry has cheerfully dubbed the entire lemonade stand project "a voluntary tax," and of course children still get to drink lemonade even if they don't happen to have the money on them and are feeling left out.

The last I heard, we've raised close to $200, 50 cents at a time, working together.

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Fiona Johnson said...

Fabulous! I agree, fundraising can be a pain for parents but I do think that if a little thought is applied then a valid learning experience can also be created. We've recently write a cookbook that we are publishing via an online program. The children have developed their IT skills whilst also having to carefully proof read and upload photographs to the site. They also had to source their own recipes.

You can find the site at :

We made around £150 which for a small school is pretty good!

Unknown said...

What a great way to raise funds! I love it.
I love the pictures interspersed throughout the post. I have seen a huge improvement in your photography this year : ) I love that. I know it isn't something you work particularly hard at.

Play for Life said...

Whoa! $200 @ 50c a cup ... now that's a lot of lemonade Tom! Come on surely you can do a deal with Diva Espresso for your home made beverage? ... BTW how are things going with the artwork over there?
Donna :) :)

Let the Children Play said...

I really respect the way you bring everything back to the kids Tom - as well as the way you guys can build just about anything with PVC piping!

Scott said...

I don't know...this seems more like a learning experience instead of the fundraisers I know! What an exciting experience.