Schoola Blog

School Fundraising Tips & Success Stories from Schoola

Celebrating Three Years of Schoola

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Three years ago, the Schoola shop opened its doors online. At the time, we were working with a pilot group of just five schools and settling into our very first warehouse. We knew firsthand that with each wave of school budget cuts, kids were losing out, and we wanted to enable parents and community members to support crucial programs as easily as possible (no cookie dough or wrapping paper sales required!).

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Since then, hundreds of thousands of families across the U.S. have joined with Schoola to support our children — by donating, by organizing clothing drives, by shopping, by sharing our name with friends, and more.

Here are some of the amazing things you’ve accomplished so far:

  • You’ve saved enough water to fill 440 Olympic-size swimming pools by donating your gently used clothing. Did you know that for every preloved item that finds a new home through our shop, more than 1,000 gallons of water are saved that would have otherwise been used manufacturing a new item?
  • And you’ve sent in tons of clothing – literally. The number of pounds of clothing donations we’ve received from you is equal to the weight of 50 school buses.
  • From the 5 schools we started out with three years ago, we’ve grown to 30,000 schools that are now partnering with Schoola.
  • If we lined up all the bags you’ve requested so far to benefit Malala Fund, we could reach the top of Mount Everest three times.
  • All told, you’ve impacted 6 million students whose schools have benefited from Schoola, helping maintain crucial funding for art, music, P.E., and more.

Thank you for making these first three years awesome. We can’t wait to see what’s next!

Sizing Things Up: Find Your Perfect Pair of Pants

Pants Sizing: Find Your Perfect Fit

By Leslie Beckhorn, Visual Merchandising Manager

We all know the most difficult part of online shopping is not knowing whether an item will fit us or not. It always seems so much easier if we can just jump into a fitting room and try it on. Well, I am here to tell you that you have no reason to worry about that anymore. We have compiled a list of women’s size charts from some of our top-selling brands to make your purchasing decisions easier.

If your item arrives and you find it doesn’t fit quite as you like, simply let our customer service team know by emailing help@schoola.com or calling 855-454-2956. We promise to provide store credit equal to the amount you paid for the item to help you find a replacement that does.

Some things to keep in mind when it comes to sizing, especially bottoms:

  • Petite is considered a proportion rather than a size. This means petite sizing affects not only the inseam, but also the rise.
  • In tall items, the most distinct difference is in the inseam.
  • Some pants, like skinny jeans, are designed to have a more tailored fit, and their cut reflects that, while others, like trousers, are cut to fit a bit looser.

When sizing bottoms, we look at measurements in three areas: waist, hips, and length (or inseam). Here is an example of what those look like, and how to measure yourself if you’re not quite sure where you fall on a sizing chart.

Pants Sizing: Find Your Perfect Fit

Ann Taylor Pants:

Known for classic styles and specializing in petite and tall fits, the sizing tends a little toward the generous side, so you may find that you size down from your normal size. Sizing at sister brand Loft is very similar.

Regular (32-33” inseam)

Size XXS XS S M L XL
00 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Waist 23.5 24.5 25.5 26.5 27.5 28.5 29.5 31 32.5 34 36
Hip 33.5 34.5 35.5 36.5 37.5 38.5 39.5 41 42.5 44 46

Petite (30” inseam; recommended for individuals 5’4” and under)

Size XXSP XSP SP MP LP XLP
00P 0P 2P 4P 6P 8P 10P 12P 14P 16P
Waist 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30.5 32 33.5
Hip 32.5 33.5 34.5 35.5 36.5 37.5 38.5 40 41.5 43

Banana Republic Pants:

Sizes run similar to Ann Taylor.

Regular

Size 000/23 00/24 0/25 2/26 4/27 6/28 8/29 10/30 12/31 14/32 16/33
Hip 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41.5 43 44.5
Inseam 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33

Petite

Size 000P 00P 0P 2P 4P 6P 8P 10P 12P 14P
Natural Waist 22.5 23.5 24.5 25.5 26.5 27.5 28.5 29.5 31 32.5
Hip 32.5 33.5 34.5 35.5 36.5 37.5 38.5 39.5 41 41.5

Gap Jeans:

Size XXS XS S M L XL XXL
00 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Size 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 35
Waist 24.75 25.5 26.25 27.25 28.25 29.5 30.5 32 33.25 35.25 39.5
Hip 34.25 35.25 36.25 37.25 38.25 39.25 40.25 41.75 43.25 45. 48.75

Gap Pants:

Regular

Size 000/23 00/24 0/25 2/26 4/27 6/28 8/29 10/30 12/31 14/32 16/33
Hip 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41.5 43 44.5
Inseam 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 33

Petite

Size 000P 00P 0P 2P 4P 6P 8P 10P 12P 14P
Natural Waist 22.5 23.5 24.5 25.5 26.5 27.5 28.5 29.5 31 32.5
Hip 32.5 33.5 34.5 35.5 36.5 37.5 38.5 39.5 41 41.5

J.Crew Pants:

Regular

Size XXXS XXS XS S M L XL
000 00 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Waist 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31.5 33 34.5
Hip 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41.5 43 44.5

Calvin Klein Bottoms: 

Pants

Size XS S M L XL
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Waist 25 26 27 28 29 30 31.5 32.5 34
Hip 33.5 36.5 37.5 38.5 39.5 40.5 42 43.5 45
Inseam-

short

30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30
Inseam-

regular

32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 32
Inseam-

Long

34 34 34 34 34 34 34 34 34

Shorts

Size XS S M L XL
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Waist 29.5 30.5 31.5 32.5 33.5 34.5 36 37.5
Low hip 36.75 37.75 38.75 39.75 40.75 41.75 43.25 44.75
inseam 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

Le Suit:

Regular

Size XS S M L XL
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Bust 32 33 34 35 36 37 38.5 40 41 43
Waist 24 25 26 27 28 29 30.5 32 33.5 35
Hips 34.5 35.5 36.5 37.5 38.5 39.5 41 42.5 44 45.5

Petite

Size XS S M L
2P 4P 6P 8P 10P 12P 14P
Bust 32 33 34 35 36 37.5 39
Waist 23.5 24.6 25.5 26.5 27.5 29 30.5
Hips 34 35 36 37 38 39.5 41

Plus

Size 0X 1X 2X 3X 4X 5X
12W 14W 16W 18W 20W 22W 24W 26W 28W 30W 32W
Bust 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60
Waist 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53
Hips 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62

Ellen Tracy Pants:

Regular

Size XS S M L XL
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Bust 37 38 39 40 41 42.5 44 45.5
Natural Waist 34 35 36 37 38 39.5 41 42.5
Hips 37.5 38.5 39.5 40.5 41.5 43 44.5 46

I hope you found this helpful, and remember, if it doesn’t fit, we’ll help you find an item that does. Just let our customer service team know by emailing help@schoola.com or calling 855-454-2956, and we’ll provide a store credit equal to the amount you paid for the item. Learn more about sizing here.

LeslieBeckhorn-Schoola-Biocard

Leslie Beckhorn is the Visual Merchandising Manager at Schoola. One of Leslie’s favorite subjects in school was art. It helped inspire her creativity and love of fashion. When she was in kindergarten, she took Vogue magazine to show and tell. Her love grew so much that she was inspired to get her degree in Fine Art with an emphasis in Art History. Now she is happy to bring her passion to Schoola.

 

10 Apps to Transition from Summer to Fall with Kids

SchoolaApp

 

It’s a time of big changes when summer comes to an end and school is beginning again. Both children and parents alike have to adjust to new routines and schedules. Modern technology can lend a hand with helpful apps that allow you to stay on top of your to-do list and make the transition easier. Check out our list of top apps for summer transition:

  1. Hurray for Pre-K

If your child is having anxiety about going to school for the first time, this app can help ease the transition. Complete with a step-by-step guide of what they can expect, it shows kids how fun school can be!

  1. Cozi Family Planner

Schedules can get hectic and hard to remember with all the kids’ sports games and after school activities. This app helps keep you organized and on top all the events happening during the week.

  1. Schoola

Searching for deals on kids’ clothes is made easy with the newly-updated app. Shop Schoola for gently used clothes at 70% off retail. Create a collection and get notifications when newly arrived items are live on the site. The best part is 40% of the proceeds benefit children’s education. You can also track your school’s fundraising progress and help reach their goals by donating clothes. Hint: it’s a great place to shop for all seasons year round, they have fall styles in stock!

  1. KinderClock

This app helps children develop a sense of time and urgency when they get ready for school in the morning. Parents will love it because everyone will be ready to head out the door on time in the morning!

  1. Berenstain Bears Come Clean to School

These classic childhood bears help teach kids about hygiene routines when they leave for school in the morning.

  1. Toca Boca

If your child is struggling in science class, this app can bring the subject matter to life and make learning fun for kids.

  1. La La Lunchbox

Teach kids how to make healthy food choices and meal plan for their lunch at school.

  1. Homework

This app helps children manage their homework workload and plan out their weekly assignments.

  1. School Supply List

This app is perfect for organizing your school supply list, especially if you have multiple kids to shop for. Whenever you come across something on sale you can check your list and get the best deals.

  1. MeeGenius

This app is a great resource to help kids to develop their reading skills and learn to love reading.

 

GenniferRose-Biocard

Gennifer’s favorite school memories were doing art and craft projects at her bilingual elementary school. The school subjects were taught in both English and Spanish and the class celebrated many hispanic cultural events. She enjoyed crafting paper mache piñatas for Cinco de Mayo, making sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos and creating Mexican fiesta lanterns with colorful tissue paper. Her love of handmade goods continues to this day and remains one of her favorite pastimes.

 

Your Ultimate Children’s Summer Reading List

The Ultimate Children's Summer Reading List

Guest post by Beth Vuolo Gousman, School Librarian

Despite being a school librarian, I frequently draw just as much of a blank as you do when faced with the rows of shelves at the library. Yes, even my child turns down my selections sometimes. The biggest thing to remember is not to give up. It would be wonderful if every teacher in America were able to inspire a love of reading, but the biggest predictor of whether your child will be a voracious reader is dependent upon what they see the adults in their lives reading. Turn off the screens (or power up the Kindle, as the case may be) and dive into some absorbing summer reads. Without further ado, here’s my ultimate children’s summer reading list.

Children’s Summer Reading List: Top 10 Picks

1. Emma J. Virjan’s Pig in a Wig featuring rhyming text in a madcap adventure for the newest of readers. Rhyming text is helpful to the newest of readers, because it helps in predicting what’s coming next.  If the illustrations offer further clues, all the better. Her second book in the series, What this Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush, makes for the perfect sendoff for bedtime. Pig just wants to go to bed, but the universe appears to be against her. Your child will laugh themselves to sleep.  Grades K-1.

2. What if working out a math problem before bed became second nature, much like a bedtime story?  That’s the premise behind Laura Overdeck’s Bedtime Math series. The third book, entitled The Truth Comes Out, is targeted towards the largest range of any book on this list, with three potential levels of questions, depending upon the audience’s math ability.  Despite the title, it need not be relegated to bedtime–the problem solving could just as easily be done on a long road trip.   If you want to “try before you buy” check out the archives for daily math problems. Grades K-5.

3. Early chapter books are a tough lot. So many of them suffer from plodding plot lines and can best be described as repetitive drive.  Mo Willems is best known for the hilarious Elephant and Piggie series. Diva and Flea, about a fancy dog and alley cat, is a far departure from this genre. It’s a creative reminder that outside appearance is not an indicator of how much two individuals might find in common.  How did Mo Willems and Tony Terlizzi pull off this feat?  Find out. Grades 2-4.

4. What would happen if there was a princess who could change into a ninja to protect her kingdom?  She’d be the Princess in Black, of course.  In Princess Magnolia’s third adventure, it’s not immediately obvious that her monster alarm has not malfunctioned, when she arrives in a field of bunnies, but she quickly learns things are not as they seem. LeYuen’s perfectly matched watercolor and ink illustrations make Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde an empowering read not to be missed. Learn more about the princess! Grades 1-3.

5. The series My Weird School Daze by Dan Gutman tops my list of recommendations for readers new to chapter books. This week, a new nonfiction edition was published that focuses on sports. Guiness Book of World Record fans, take heed!  My Weird School Fast Facts: Sports is a veritable treasure trove for the child who lives to start conversations with the phrase “Did you know…?” Grades 2-4.

6. Sarah Pennypacker is best known for the Clementine series, featuring a plucky third grade, a la Ramona Quimby. This spring, she has published two works that offer something different. On my children’s summer reading list is Waylon! One Awesome Thing! is a spin off from the  Clementine series, aimed at 2nd-4th graders. Waylon is feeling torn as the most popular boy in 4th grade is dividing the class into 2 cliques, and his sister, who he has always counted on, has drifted into her own world, one that he’s not a part of.  There are so few books that handle exclusion so well, and Pennypacker is able to get into kids’ heads in a way that brings an adult reader right back to an age long forgotten. Grades 2-4.

7. Pax is the story of a boy and his pet fox, both of whom are trying to make their way back to one another after being separated against their will.  Each chapter flips from human to fox viewpoint.  It sounds like a far shot when described, but it’s a real accomplishment that Pennypacker is able to pull this off convincingly.  There was a significant waiting list for Pax at my school, built entirely upon word of mouth of fifth grade boys. Grades 4-8.

8. How much does your reader know about the Iranian hostage crisis?  Firoozeh Dumas presents her middle school life as historical fiction in It Ain’t So Awful, FalafelNewport Beach in the late 70s and early 80s was quite lacking in diversity, but thanks to Dumas, there’s no shortage of laughs as she tries desperately to make her immigrant family fit in in Southern California, including changing her name from Zomerod to Cindy. In a recent interview, Dumas noted that there is never a news story about a well-adjusted immigrant from the Middle East. Do your children a favor and present this tale of racism and bigotry, interwoven with a message of kindness. Grades 5-7.

9. Eighth grader Nick Hall couldn’t be more excited about the soccer championship he’ll be playing in Dallas in just a few weeks. But sometimes life doesn’t turn out like you planned.  Booked author Kwame Alexander won the Newbury last year with his novel in verse about basketball. There’s a message in here about it being cool to be smart that’s a great reminder for all students. Great choice for the reluctant reader-abundant white space and a fast read. Check out more ideas for reluctant readers.  Grades 6-8.

10. Got a worrier at home? Genie’s mom does. As Brave as You explores life with a fearless older brother until an unexpected incident with their blind grandfather changes two boys’ lives forever. Ten-year-old Genie and his almost fourteen-year-old brother Ernie have been sent to spend the summer in Virginia. Every younger sibling needs a reminder that despite their convictions, an older sibling does not always have the answer. Nuanced characters and an ear for language set Jason Reynolds’ first middle-grade novel apart from the pack, though his previous work for young adult audiences has received significant accolades, including the John Steptoe award for new talent.. And this book to your children’s summer reading list for Grades 4-8.

What books are on your own ultimate children’s summer reading list? I always love to get new ideas from parents and kids. Comment below!

Children's Summer Reading List Beth Vuolo Gousman has been a librarian at Montclair Elementary, a K-5 public school in Oakland, CA since 2011. She also serves as a reviewer for the Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California, and has served as a moderator for the Bay Area Book Festival. Beth holds a Masters of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Colgate University.  Her favorite school memory is winning the Halloween costume contest as the Energizer Bunny. 

Top Tips for Traveling with Kids

Family Summer Travel

Summer is the time for adventure and many families pack up their bags to head out and explore together. If you’re traveling with kids far from home things can get a little hectic and parents may have to pull some tricks out of their hats to keep the kids occupied.

Here at Schoola we know adventure doesn’t end when the field trips and science projects are over. We asked veteran moms to tell us about their travelling tips to stay sane during days on the road:

Off to Grandmother’s House We Go

Megan is Schoola’s VP of Marketing and the mother of 2-year-old son Reece and 6-year-old daughter Finley. This year’s summer vacation will be spent visiting family in Seattle and celebrating her grandmother’s 90th birthday.

One challenge Megan faces when travelling with young children on a plane is that you’re limited by how much you can bring with you. In an effort to save space and spark creativity, Megan encourages her kids to make toys from items that can be found around the house when they are visiting family. For example she has given her daughter the challenge to create a city out of boxes and to paint a rock garden for Grandma.

This year Megan is going to try out a new travelling activity she found on The Autumn Blog known as The Wrapped Presents Game. Small presents are wrapped in advance of the journey so that kids can open at certain milestones. For instance, when they drive from Seattle to their destination on the Olympic Peninsula, there will be a small gift wrapped “do not open till the ferry boat” that’ll contain a new and novel thing for the kids to play with. Then perhaps another gift once they cross the Kitsap county line. This way they look forward to each step in the journey, and perhaps even track it on the map.

Megan’s Top Traveling with Kids Tips:

-In her past travel experience she’s found children adjust better in a home setting than a hotel and are more likely to get a better night’s rest.

-For family road trips, dry erase markers on car windows is a great way to entertain kids.

-Visiting family when they travel with kids makes it easier to entertain a toddler because there are lots of cousins and grandparents around to keep them entertained.

 

Family Summer Travel

East Coast Adventures

Maile heads up the school fundraising division at Schoola in San Francisco and is also the mother of 6-year-old Samantha & 3-year-old Trey. This summer they are headed to Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore to visit family.

When travelling with the kiddos, Maile faces the challenge of keeping them occupied and engaged on plane and car rides. For the plane ride they bring art supplies and activity books for Samantha. In the car they play a lot of games like the alphabet game where each player attempts to find the letters of the alphabet, in order, on road signs or nearby buildings. I Spy is another popular game where the “Spy” silently selects an object that is visible to all the players but does not reveal it. They then say, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with …,” naming the letter the chosen object starts with. These games are a great way for young children to keep up their summer learning and have fun!

Maile’s Top Traveling with Kids Tips:

– Maile has iPads that she only allows the kids to use when travelling. This creates a lot of excitement and novelty, distracting them from being bored on the road.

–  Load up the iPads with educational apps like ABC mouse

– Pre-load a couple movies that the kids picked out themselves. They will actually be looking forward to the travel time to watch their favorite flicks!

– Common Sense Media is helpful in determining if a movie is appropriate for young children if they want to watch newly released films

 

Summer Family Road Trip

Family Cruises

Yan and her husband Seibo are experts on travelling with young children. These world travellers just returned from a whirlwind trip to Italy with their 5-year-old Sofia and 1-year-old Savannah.

When they aren’t travelling around Europe, Yan prefers to vacation on cruises and resorts. The perks of family vacation package deals often include kid friendly areas where you can drop off your children for a few hours. This way the adults can enjoy some much needed relaxation time!

To get to their destination Yan prefers to fly over road trips because of the shorter travel times. She also faces the challenge of keeping the girls entertained and engaged while travelling. Similar to The Wrapped Presents Game, Yan puts individual toys and snacks into zip lock bags and doesn’t tell Sofia what she’s packed. Every couple of hours when the girls start getting restless, she pulls out a new surprise.

Yan’s Top Traveling with Kids Tips:

– Do your research before you travel to find out about childcare options at resorts and cruises.

– If you’re looking for a more relaxed vacation, chose a destination with a slower pace like a beach or countryside. If you’re looking for adventure, select a destination full of sightseeing and kid friendly activities.

– Take lots of pictures and videos to share with friends and family. That way they can all live vicariously and gather ideas for the next vacation.

Now let the summer adventure begin with stress free family travel!

 

GenniferRose-Biocard

Gennifer’s favorite school memories were doing art and craft projects at her bilingual elementary school. The school subjects were taught in both English and Spanish and the class celebrated many Hispanic cultural events. She enjoyed crafting paper mache piñatas for Cinco de Mayo, making sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos and creating Mexican fiesta lanterns with colorful tissue paper. Her love of handmade goods continues to this day and remains one of her favorite pastimes.

Share Our Momisms and Win $25

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Motherhood is a chaotic venture and many moms would tell you the days whiz by in a blur. But there are key moments that stand out and create lasting memories. The thoughts and phrases that define motherhood are what we like to call “momisms.” With the quotes below we’ve captured some of our own fun momisms!

Share your favorite momism and win!

  • Use the social media share icons located at the top and bottom of the page to share our Schoola momisms on your Facebook, Twitter , Pinterest and Instagram.
  • Use the hashtag #SchoolaMoms to enter to win $25 credit to shop at Schoola.
  • Don’t forget to tag @Schoola in your posts.
  • Contest ends July 13th. The winner will be randomly selected and notified by July 15th.

 

Momism Quote

 

Momism Quote

 

Momism Quote

 

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Now that you’ve shared on social, tell us your momisms in the comments below!

 

 

Birdwatching With Kids in Your Own Back Yard

birdwatching with kids

Guest Post by Bryony Angell, Backyard Birder and Blogger

Summer is here and we’re all spending more time outside–playing at the park, hiking, swimming, experiencing the warm air, the shimmering leaves and the blue sky. And for me, this time of year brings out my binoculars for birdwatching with kids–or birding as we birders call it!

Believe it or not, my six year old son can be called upon to name the birdsong we hear in the mornings outside our bedroom. “Chickadee?” he guesses. Yes! Backyard birds are all around us, singing and raising babies this time of year, and if we lend an ear we can often see them too.

I’ve been observing and listening to birds with my son since he was an infant. Now he rolls his eyes at my bird-nerdiness, but an awareness of our feathered friends has stuck in our family. So how can you get started birdwatching with kids?

birdwatching with kids

1. Start birdwatching with kids by observing wherever you are!

Often the birding is circumstantial — while we are doing yard work together or playing in the sandbox. Once we stop and look closely at our surroundings, we start to see and hear more, cut through the layers of white noise and distraction and notice the life all around us.

I don’t always worry about identifying the bird — it is the activity of seeing and observing that is the fun part for kids. When watching birds, let kids know to keep a respectful distance (never intentionally intrude on birds in order to “see better” or “get a good photo”). The more we let birds be themselves in our yard, the more comfortable they will feel and the more often they will visit. And once birds are comfortable, they might allow you to get closer as time goes by.

2. Put up a feeder

There is nothing quite like birdwatching with kids at your feeder. Once you create a space for you and your child to watch birds, it’s like watching a movie! Putting up feeders will really bring these birds out of the bushes, literally, and because they have babies to feed right now they can be especially active at feeders this time of the year!

Feeders are available everywhere from hardware stores to specialty nature shops.

Here are some important tips for inviting birds to safely enjoy your feeders and yard.

  • Buy a feeder which can be easily cleaned (taken apart and scrubbed with soap 4 times a year at a minimum to get rid of mold). Clean often underneath the feeder to discourage rats and squirrels.
  • Place a seed feeder in an area where there is tree or shrub cover for a bird to retreat in case there are predators around (such as a hawk).
  • Place a feeder well away from windows where a retreating bird might strike glass.
  • If there are cats in your yard, place the feeder in a place inaccessible to your feline friend. Better yet, make your cat an indoor cat.
  • Buy a dome cover to protect the seed feeder from rain, which accelerates mold developing in your feeder.

Pick seeds, suet, peanuts, or thistle, depending on where you are in the country and what kind of birds are in your area. Seeds attract finches, chickadees, nuthatches and sparrows, for example. Suet will attract bushtits and woodpeckers. Peanuts attract jays and cardinals. Thistle will attract pine siskins. And a hummingbird feeder will attract hummingbirds of course!

birdingwatching with kids

3. Learn your backyard birds

North America has over 900 bird species naturally occurring north of the Mexican border. They range from tiny hummingbirds to the largest birds in our skies, the Sandhill crane.

Start with what you see just right around you in your yard or nearby park.

Some of my favorite commonly seen, year-round resident birds are found all over the country’s urban and suburban areas. These five groups can get you started depending on where you live.

  • Black-Capped Chickadee and Chestnut-Backed Chickadee: This bird will come to suet and seed, and will nest in boxes put out for them
  • Wrens: Feeds on the ground and lower canopy of woods, has a sassy little tail wagging and a distinct white eye stripe and scolding style of vocalizing.
  • House Finch: Reddish head and shoulders, comes to feeders.
  • Steller’s Jay (west of the Rockies) or Blue Jay (East of the Rockies): Sassy and flashy birds about the size of a robin, with a crest and blue plumage.
  • American Robin, and its cousins the Thrushes (Hermit, Varied, Swainsons, etc): large songbirds with bright black eyes, ground feeder, beautiful song in the springtime.

4. Go on a bird walk

What if you want to see a greater variety of birds than right where you live?  Here are some tips for guaranteed birdwatching with kids where the feathered friends live. Wear comfy clothes in layers, not too bright (to remain non-threatening to the birds), and galoshes, sandals or sneakers depending on the locale! I imagine myself in something safari chic when I go out birding, to make it fun.

Then, get out there!

  • Near water: Birds rely on water for food (bugs, fish, everything else). Think rivers, ponds, lakes, marshes, deltas, lagoons, beaches. Fresh water, brackish water, salt water–you’ll find birds near water.
  • Trees: Birds rely on healthy parks and forests for food at every level of the canopy, so look on the ground, in the bushes, branches and in the air.
  • Farm country: Birds are easier to see in agricultural areas as space is wide open. Birds are attracted to waste grain, the insects and rodents that are also attracted to that waste grain, as well as the water provided by irrigation.

Local nature centers or Audubon societies may host family bird walks, which are another way to learn about birds and not have to second guess yourself!  I’ve learned everything I know from friends who are more knowledgeable than I am!

Binoculars and a good bird guide will be a great investment if you decide you want to get serious about birdwatching with kids. I like the now-classic David Sibley guides, for the different illustrated views of each bird. Find a version you like that is specific to your region and it will be the guide to you and your child getting to know your neighbors in a whole new way! To learn more about birds where you live, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds is a great resource.

BryonyC_Schoola-Biocard

Bryony’s favorite school memory is the friendship with her school’s librarian, Mrs. Potter, who let Bryony retreat to the library to read books instead of going to recess, thus fostering her passion for reading. Now Bryony writes her own content as a journalist for magazines and as a lifestyle blogger about being an urban girl birder with her young son Vireo (named for a bird!). Bryony and her family live in Seattle, WA.

The Best Ways to Prevent the Summer Slide

Summer Slide

By Gennifer Rose, Community & Content Specialist at Schoola

While summer is the perfect time to be outdoors and let children run around and play, it’s also a great time to continue learning outside the classroom. The minds of children are hard at work learning during the school year and keeping them mentally stimulated in the summer to avoid the summer slide is important.

 

Summer SlideHaley Lussenden of HaleyKnows.com is a mom, high school teacher and a big fan of Schoola. Schoola is her favorite tool to not only save money, but also to help out local schools in the process. She’s currently planning a Schoola clothing drive to raise funds for new instruments for her school’s marching band. Her favorite school memory is the time she inadvertently quoted a One Direction song while answering a student’s question and a several students burst into song with almost everyone joining in for the chorus.

Haley has some great tips on how to combat the summer slide for children of all ages. Here’s what she had to say:

What is “the summer slide?”

Summer slide refers to the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. There are several reasons why this phenomenon happens and it largely comes down to resources and awareness.

Summer Slide

What are your top tips for preventing summer slide?

The biggest preventative measure for summer slide is hands down parental involvement. If parents don’t prioritize learning during the summer kids often gravitate towards video games and social media. One of the easiest ways parents can encourage learning over the summer is to lead by example. If your child sees you reading for pleasure or working through the math to determine the number of tomato plants that will fit in your garden, he or she will be far more likely to exhibit similar behaviors.

How do you make learning interesting in the summertime?

My rule for summer learning is to keep it light and fun. There are so many things fighting for your child’s attention over the summer, and learning needs to be carefully integrated to get your child excited about it. This can involve reading books about animals before taking a trip to the zoo or asking your older child to help you budget your family road trip based on the average cost of gas, projected speed and distance to be traveled. Kids often tune out if the lesson doesn’t feel relevant to real life or their own experience, so get creative when planting educational opportunities into your child’s day.

Summer Slide

Do your suggestions for summer learning change based on a child’s age?

Learning needs to be tailored not only to different age groups, but for individual children as well. Making learning fun and engaging for your child means finding the right material or plan just for them. I would suggest a visit to your local library where you invite your child to check out different types of books. I recommend crafting books, graphic novels, short stories, and other light reading materials that can drive home the reading is fun message. Do a Google search for book suggestions or homeschooling resources for your child’s grade or age. There are a wealth of resources available for free online to help parents encourage learning.

If your child is just entering kindergarten, what are some tips to prepare them for school?

I think the best tip to prepare children for kindergarten is to encourage critical thinking skills early. Its best not to spoon-feed your child information, but rather to incite them to find answers or develop questions. Next time you read a new book to your child, before turning the page ask, “What do you think will happen next?” or “What would you do in this situation?” Fostering critical thinking skills early will benefit your child their entire life.

Summer Slide

Where can parents find resources for summer learning?

I think the best resource for summer learning is your public library. Sadly statistics show attendance at public libraries rapidly declining, which is a shame! Local libraries have taken huge strides in recent years to provide valuable resources in the wake of home computers and smartphones. For example, most public libraries now allow patrons to check out ebooks and visit databases, like the ancestry.com archives, for free. The website khanacademy.org is an amazing free resource of video lessons that appeal to children and adults. I also recommend the website teacherspayteachers.com which has numerous free and low costs teaching resources created by teachers that are available for download.

GenniferRose-Biocard

Gennifer’s favorite school memories were doing art and craft projects at her bilingual elementary school. The school subjects were taught in both English and Spanish and the class celebrated many Hispanic cultural events. She enjoyed crafting paper mache piñatas for Cinco de Mayo, making sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos and creating Mexican fiesta lanterns with colorful tissue paper. Her love of handmade goods continues to this day and remains one of her favorite pastimes.

Kickstart School Fundraising Over the Summer

school fundraising over summer

By Turi Fesler Steffen

School’s out, the kids are booked with camp and play dates, and yet your role as a PTA parent doesn’t stop–you’re still thinking about school fundraising over summer. And the good news is you can still raise funds for P.E., music, or a new computer lab.

We at Schoola help turn secondhand clothes into opportunities for kids, and that doesn’t end when the temperature rises and you head out on vacation.

Tips for School Fundraising Over Summer

Here are 4 easy ways to keep the money coming during the summer months when fundraising usually comes to a halt:

  • Donate lost & found: An easy source of school revenue is the lost & found. Simply wash all the unclaimed clothes at the end of the school year, and Schoola will email you a shipping label and help you schedule pickup.
  • Summer school drive: For some, school’s still in session. Set up a donation station in your school lobby so kids involved in special summer programs can still donate. Organize around a theme to make it even more fun, and set a goal. A season change is a great time to host a clothing drive, as you go through last year’s wardrobe and figure out what still fits for your kiddos.
  • Run a corporate drive: What better time to get your place of work involved? Book a donation drive for your child’s school at your office and get more donations during the down season. Make sure you let your colleagues know your goal and what you’re fundraising for–it will encourage them to clean out their closets.
  • Donate from home: This is a great time of year to mobilize family and friends. Aunts and uncles who live across state lines can simply request a donation bag online and give back over the summer.

Summer isn’t the time to hibernate! Contact a Schoola coach and get great tips on how to fundraise all summer long. Your PTA will thank you!

Turi-Biocard

When Turi was little, her favorite part of school was actually the homework! She wanted to be a veterinarian, a ballerina, and a writer. Now that she’s a grownup she can be found eating her way through the Bay Area or with her nose in a book in the library. She likes jogging to brunch or burgers, and then ending her day working on writing her own “Great American Novel.”

Behind the Scenes at Schoola

Schoola Team

Here at Schoola we’ve got a lot to celebrate. We are only halfway through the year and we have already experienced tremendous growth, and we owe it all to our dedicated donors and shoppers. Since our start in 2014, we’ve run over 3,300 school-wide clothing drives, and fulfilled over 129,518 requests to donate by mail.

We are overwhelmed by the participation from donors all over the country and will be working hard all summer to get donations processed. In the meantime it is taking longer than our standard six weeks to process donations. We want you to know that we are working hard to get this backlog cleared by the end of the summer so that schools can continue earning as quickly as possible.

Schoola Processing

Why does processing my donation take so long?

Many of you may be wondering why it takes as long as it does to process your donations. In order for us to provide more clarity, we have broken down the steps of processing donations:

  • To provide high- quality gently used clothing, every item is hand- sorted and inspected for any blemishes.
  • We assign each item dozens of attributes to help shoppers find what they are looking for.
  • We offer photos of each item, including front and back views.

Our goal is to provide you with the best shopping experience possible. While each step in the process adds valuable details and makes shopping at Schoola more fun, it also adds more time to the process.

Schoola Processing

Updates to Operations and Logistics

We have also made internal improvements to give our employees the best tools for speed and success. To decrease processing times we have:

  • Implemented new inventory software to streamline the upload of new items to the site.
  • Increased the number of warehouse employees to meet the growing demand.
  • Invested in automation equipment to increase efficiency.

Malala Bags

Lend a Hand

While we are working hard to reduce our processing, there are also ways that you as a donor can help speed up the process. Donor best practice guidelines include:

  • Donate items that are clean and in good condition. It takes our team longer to sort through clothing that does not meet our selling standards. See full list of items we accept.
  • Be sure to completely fill out the donation sticker on your donation bag or box. We prioritize donations that arrive with completed stickers.
  • Providing your email address also allows us to send you exclusive promotions and offers as a thank you for donating!

 

From all of us here at Schoola, we would like to thank all of our donors and shoppers for your continued support. We look forward to an awesome second half of the year and more great milestones!

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