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What To Do When Asked to Help at the School Fete

Say no! Just kidding… School fetes: while you can’t deny they’re hugely popular and big money-spinners for schools, they’re also a LOT of work for staff. Here are some maximum impact-minimum effort ideas if your class has been asked to come up with a stall or activity at your school fete.

It’s not uncommon for teachers to be expected to contribute to school fetes – whether their class takes on responsibility for a stall, produces items to sell or organises an activity or entertainment. Here are some insider tips on fete ideas that can be prepared in advance providing maximum bang for minimum effort.

Tombola – I’m a huge Tombola fan – which is basically a raffle where the prizes are jars filled with an assortment of small items. These can be prepared long in advance (unless they contain lollies or chocolate) and enable parents to clean out their cupboards of random items. Some excellent Tombola fillers include: small stationery items, Lego, a $10 note, items to make a pet rock, a skipping rope, vouchers for rides at the fete, temporary tattoos, bath salts, scratch’n’win tickets and water balloons.

Side-Show – sideshow games are a great money spinner but some are more involved than others. The simplest involves paddle pop sticks in a wheelbarrow of sand, with a colour blob on the hidden end that corresponds to a type of prize. Other simple games include throwing beanbags into hoops lying on the ground and chocolate toss. Many classrooms already have an Ikea prize wheel, and it’s easy enough to convert this into a chocolate wheel. There’s not a lot of prep involved and it’s relatively easy to ask parents to donate lollies and chocolates for prizes.

Bath Bombs – yes, it’s a tad messy but it’s also a science and art lesson in one. Using bulk ingredients purchased online, dried petals from the garden and some cheap moulds from the dollar shop, your class can make a batch of bath bombs before recess and pop them into cute little bags by the end of the day. They won’t perish so you can make them well in advance and require little work to sell on the day.

Badge making – you can buy or hire badge-making machines along with the fixings (pins, backs etc). Get your class to pre-cut circles from funky fabric and paper, choose cool designs for people to colour in and source some fun stickers. You can prep long in advance and raid people’s craft cupboards and sewing stash to reduce costs. There is nothing perishable and whatever you don’t use can be safely stored for next year.

Succulents – how simple you find this depends on how green your thumb is, but if you’ve done cuttings before (or have a parent who is horticulturally minded), then a morning with students in the garden potting small cuttings in some donated pots, cups and teapots can lead to big profits a few months later.

Tea towels – this requires an upfront investment, but the workload is minimal. There are a number of excellent Australian companies that make fundraising tea towels, but the trick is coming up with a design that will appeal to your entire community, not just the school families. A painting of a local beach or landmark by a talented child is always popular, as is the name of your town/suburb in fancy font alongside (other) glamorous world cities.

Guess the … in the jar – other teachers will kick themselves when they see how simple this is. Source some very large jars and then ask your class to donate items to fill them. Suggestions include Skittles or jellybeans, small Lego pieces, tiny erasers, glow sticks, uninflated balloons, even shells. You can always include a $20 note in the jar to sweeten the deal. Then all you need to do is make a ‘guessing log’ for each jar. Seal the correct answer inside an envelope and you don’t even need to be there on the day, just leave it in the hands of your volunteers who will be very glad you chose such a cruisy stall.

Shannon Meyerkort

Shannon Meyerkort is a freelance writer and the author of "Brilliant Minds: 30 Dyslexic Heroes Who Changed our World", now available in all good bookstores.

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