Many years ago I taught in a tiny school which had just 9 pupils. One of the challenges of working in a small school is that standard ideas and activities nearly always require adapting. For example, when we did a pantomime, I had to write one called “Snow White and Several Dwarves” as we didn’t have enough to make the traditional seven.

Likewise, fund raisers were always interesting. At the time, only 50 people lived in the village, many of whom were retired or on state benefits of one sort or another. So undertaking activities which attracted funds from outwith the village were particularly welcomed.

One year we decided to make our own tea towel. This is a common fund raiser in UK schools. Normally in nurseries, each child does a hand print. In primary school each child draws his or her face. The tea towel looks a bit like this:

As you can imagine, with just a handful of children, the tea towel would look a little blank. Also most tea towels are normally sold just to relatives, parents and carers. This would not make a tea towel very cost effective if we relied on this traditional approach.

Instead we borrowed and adapted an idea from other nearby schools. We created a village tea towel featuring all the local businesses. Each child had to put themselves in the image too. Here was the result:

There were a number of benefits to doing this. Firstly, all the children had to go into the village and find out what needed to go onto the tea towel. They learned a little bit more about their community.

Secondly, all the shops sold the tea towel to passing tourists and visitors. This was a fine example of the generosity of the local people in helping out the school. Thirdly, the children had a much greater involvement in the process.

If you look closely, you will notice that a certain amount of artistic freedom was given to the project. One child wanted herself as twins. My son, aged 3, drew himself as a pirate. There’s a wolf, penguins, a tortoise, reindeer, cacti and even a friendly lion. These were not normally found in the village. The children knew this, but thought people might find it funny to discover the inaccuracies. They also created a puzzle sheet to go with the tea towel.

Over the course of the year we sold more than 350 tea towels. This paid for two trips chosen by the children. We went for a day’s skiing in the winter and a day’s pony trekking in the summer. All-in-all, this is a wee example of how a traditional (indoor) activity can be tweaked to include elements of outdoor and community based work.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Shar Dean August 12, 2010 at 06:28

Even better than the original – a real keeper 🙂

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Debi August 12, 2010 at 22:17

I love this idea! Although my son’s school isn’t as small as the one you’ve described, it is small by Los Angeles standards and fundraising is always a challenge. You’ve certainly given me something to think about here. Thanks for sharing!

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Teacher Tom August 14, 2010 at 03:38

Hmm . . . a tea towel. We raise most of our funds in much less creative ways. I wonder if I can find a way to do that here. What fun!

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Karen Phillips September 15, 2010 at 16:19

these tea towels are so cute. What a great idea!

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