Schoola Blog

School Fundraising Tips & Success Stories from Schoola

Month: June 2016

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

Camping Packing Checklist for Summer Adventures

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Whether you’re car camping or backcountry backpacking, there’s a finite number of things you can cram on your camping packing checklist. That’s why we’re here to help you edit down that laundry list of attire. And it never hurts to look cute, even when you’re in the woods or at the lake.

What to Bring: Camping Packing Checklist

1) A practical jacket to layer at night when the temp drops; 2) cargo shorts or pants–the extra pockets will come in handy 3) a breezy button-up; 4) camouflage print–the outdoorsman’s staple; 5) denim to get dirty in;  6) a plaid shirt to channel your inner lumberjack; 7) a fave graphic t-shirt–bonus points if it’s camping-themed; 8) cute and comfy shorts; 9)a  lightweight sweater–did you know wool is naturally water-resistant? 10) a solid tank or tee for layering; 11) sneakers to keep your feet comfy on and off the trail.

Are you a seasoned camper? What’s on your camping packing checklist?

Disney Packing Checklist: Your Go-To Guide

Disney Packing Checklist

You might be feeling overwhelmed with a mile-long list of what you need when heading to the Happiest Place on Earth. Our Disney packing checklist will get you inspired for your family vacation. We’re here to help you simplify and get you out the door to begin your summer adventure.

Disney Packing Checklist: Pack This!

1) A light jacket for breezy evenings; 2) a basic pair of cargo shorts (pockets come in handy); 3) a Disney t-shirt so you can sport your fave character; 4) a sundress that will take you from hot days outdoors to dinners at restaurants; 5) a t-shirt or tank to beat the summer heat; 6) a cute and practical carry-all handbag–consider a pop of color to add whimsy to your wardrobe; 7) bold shorts that say “I’m with Mickey;” 8) comfy sneakers–no blisters on this trip; and 9) sandals, the ultimate summer staple.

Looking for more travel tips? Check out these blog posts:

What are you most looking forward to at Disney? Do you have favorite rides or memories from your own childhood? Tell us in the comments below, and don’t forget to share your #SchoolaStyle and win wherever you go. And if you’re not heading to the Happiest Place on Earth, where will your summer adventures take you?

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