For the past several years, I’ve wanted to have a media center fundraiser that involved crafts. Students at my school tend to be very kinesthetic, and they are so much more engaged when doing something with their hands. I’ve also been learning a lot lately about Maker concepts, and I wanted to incorporate some of these ideas as a semi-passive program. Enter: Rainbow Looms.
The Rainbow loom bracelet craze has been taking over my school. I bought a couple of kits for an activity at an incentive party back in October. The kids quickly schooled me on the fact that making bracelets with the loom itself is pretty complicated and easy to mess up. But making them on two pencils (or two fingers) is super easy to learn and execute – they taught me how in about five minutes. So I bought several packets of the bands, taught my student assistants how to make the basic design (I think it’s called double-fishtail), and let the magic happen.
Soon, I had students who never even worked for me wanting to come in and help make bracelets. I explained to them that they would have to either donate the bracelet to the fundraiser or buy it if they wanted to keep it. And they were fine with that. Students came to the library everyday during lunch, and on some days I would have eight sixth grade volunteers excitedly chugging away on bracelets. When we started selling them for $1 each, we realized that a lot of students just wanted to have some bands to make their own bracelet. So we created our own DIY kits.
This brought the DIY/Maker element of the fundraiser to a whole new level. Now not only were my students making products for us to sell, but we were also spreading the knowledge of HOW to make things. We made kits by filling snack-sized ziplock bags with enough bands for one bracelet (about 50), a mini rainbow loom instructions sheet that I made in Publisher, and a C-clip or S-clip, which finishes off the bracelet. Some students would ask for kits with their favorite colors, and we were happy to oblige. Soon we had half the school either wearing or making these bracelets. The students had fun, were engaged, and were happy that they were contributing to the media center.
Throughout the fundraiser, we spent about $75 on supplies; mostly on bags of bands in various colors. After taking that out of our profits, we ended up raising $106 in two weeks. Now, I do realize that this isn’t a huge profit amount, and that $100 won’t buy us very much for the media center. But, it was an easy fundraiser to run, it took very little work on my part (collecting money, selling bracelets at lunch, buying the bands), and most importantly, my students had a blast. I’m thinking about expanding this concept into a larger craft fair next year, maybe even having the fair open during a family night so that parents can buy their student’s creations too. There’s definitely going to be a lot more programs like this in my media center’s future.