Monday, May 16, 2011

Schoolkids Host ‘Alex’s Lemonade Stands,’
Fight Childhood Cancer

A group of students at Ralston Middle School in Belmont, California, literally turned lemons into lemonade. The students, who are members of Ralston’s student government, sold lemonade to raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand, an organization that supports children afflicted by cancer. [see video above]

At Garnet Valley Elementary School in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, students ran an Alex’s Lemonade Stand event. They sold more than 1,000 cups of lemonade and raised $370. [read more]

One day last October, third-graders at Prairie Ridge Elementary School in Shawnee, Kansas, sold lemonade and cookies for 50 cents apiece. Their lunchtime effort ended up raising $1,303 for Alex’s Lemonade Foundation. The event helped students learn about childhood cancer, empathy, and how they each have the power to make a difference by overcoming obstacles they face in life, said teacher Brandi Leggett. [read more]

Last fall, members of the Key Club at Summer Creek High School in Houston hosted a lemonade stand at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant. They were so excited with the results that they set up another stand a couple weeks later at a Friday night football game. [read more]

Kathy Andrade’s second-graders at Our Lady of the Assumption/Holy Family School in Fairfield, Connecticut, have set up lemonade stands since 2008 to support the efforts of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. The monthly lemonade functions raised more than $2,000 last year. [read more]


Those are just a handful of hundreds of stories of schoolkids who have followed in the footsteps of a young girl named Alexandra (“Alex”) Scott.

When Alex was just four years old, she told her parents she wanted to set up a front-yard lemonade stand. Her plan: to give the money to doctors to help them find a cure for the cancer she had lived with since she was a year old. Her first “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” raised an astonishing $2,000 in one day. While bravely fighting her own cancer, Alex continued to set up lemonade stands every year. As news spread, people everywhere were inspired to start their own lemonade stands -- donating the proceeds to her cause. By the time Alex passed away at the age of eight, her stand and inspiration had raised more than $1 million towards finding a cure for the disease that took her life.

Alex's legacy lives on in Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, established by her parents in 2005. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $40 million to fund more than 150 cutting-edge research projects; create a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment; and develop resources to help people everywhere affected by childhood cancer.


At Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, staff members know that young people can make a big difference. They saw it in Alex, and they continue to see it everyday as children hold fundraisers to keep Alex's dream of a cure alive. To support teachers and students, the Foundation team has created many resources to help teach important lessons about giving and to empower students to act.

“We want your school's experience to be rewarding for students, staff, and the entire community,” says the Foundation’s Connie Funston, “so we are proud to introduce our exciting new service-learning program, which aims to teach Alex’s inspiring message of making a difference, helping others, and overcoming obstacles.”

The curriculum comprises three units each for Grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5 and was developed with emphasis on enhancing the literacy skills of children while teaching them about the “Power of One.” It is also geared towards reinforcing key lessons from the Foundation’s children’s book, Alex & the Amazing Lemonade Stand. Lesson plans include supplemental handouts as well as special instructions for English-as-a-second-language learners, struggling learners, and gift-and-talented students. For teachers new to service-learning, materials explaining this method of teaching are also included.

Funston encourages anyone interested in creating an Alex's Lemonade Stand fundraising event in their school community to spend some time checking out these resources the site has to offer:
Lemonade from Lemons Service-Learning Program
Hold a Stand at Your School (and Other Fundraising Ideas)
Lesson Plans for Teachers
Schools & Service-Learning: Downloads
Request a Copy of the Book: Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand
Discussion Points
Getting Involved: Ways to Fundraise
Get Your School Involved: Register Now

Calling all kids across this great land!
You can help kids with your own lemonade stand.
As Alex once said,
“It’s easy and it’s fun.”
You need lemonade, ice, and a little bit of sun.
The money you raise can help kids who are sick.
A cure might be found, perhaps even quick!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don’t Give Up:
Fun End-of-Year Activities
Keep Interest and Learning Alive

Over his years as an elementary school principal in Texas, Mark Lukert enjoyed sending his staff off with a bang! at the end of the year. The centerpiece of his end-of-year celebration was a cake tied to the year’s school-wide theme. Then he purchased plastic champagne glasses and several bottles of a beverage that looks like champagne -- sparkling apple cider, for example. He also purchased party poppers for each staff member. (Party poppers are little plastic bottles with strings attached. When you pull the string, streamers shoot out of the bottle. These inexpensive novelty items are sold at most party stores or you can purchase them online).

“I give a little talk about the year, we serve the ‘champagne’ and have a toast, then pop the streamers,” says Lukert. “Everyone enjoys the event and it is a nice way to wrap up a great year!”

The idea can be just as effective when introducing a theme and toasting the start of a new school year, Lukert adds. [learn more]

Education World columnist Diane Hodges offers dozens of fun ways to celebrate the school year's end in her books Looking Forward to Monday Morning and Season It With Fun: A Year of Recognition, Fun, and Celebrations to Enliven Your School.

Among Hodges’ end-of-year ideas is to hold a "Thanks a Latte" party. Obtain latte machines and make a variety of lattes for staff members. Serve biscotti, scones, or other treats as well, Hodges recommends.

Or maybe you can plan some special awards to present at an end-of-year gathering. You might have staff members vote in advance for special recognitions such as
  • Most Willing to Help a Team Member,
  • Most Positive Attitude,
  • After-Hours Award,
  • Cheerleader Award (pom-poms),
  • Adhesive Award (a bottle of glue for the person who held everyone together), or
  • Rookie of the Year Award.

    For more great ideas for all year long, be sure to sign up for Hodge’s free Looking Forward to Monday Morning newsletter, which is packed with practical ideas for motivating and recognizing your staff. [see a sample newsletter, then sign up to receive this free newsletter on Diane Hodges’ home page]


    The grounds of The Ellis School in Pittsburgh are covered with trees planted by the Arbuthnot family, who once lived on the school’s property. Identifying those trees was the job of some students who took part in last May’s “Ellis’ Trees Please” mini-course at the school. The task was not an easy one, since many of the trees were purchased abroad at the turn of the 20th century, when importing plant material into the U.S. was legal.

    Ellis School faculty and friends have offered mini-courses since 1972 as a way to keep learning alive between final exams and the end of the school year, according to Jack Gaddess, a Spanish teacher and the school’s mini-course coordinator. The courses offer students time to explore nontraditional topics of study or a particular topic more in-depth, Gaddess told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazettte. Besides “Ellis’ Trees Please,” last year’s courses included offerings that explored the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, mountain biking, traditional West African dance, and personal finance. [read more ]

    Education World columnist Larry Ferlazzo has many favorite activities for the final days of the school year. In one of those activities, he has students draw and write a simile about themselves (I am like a _______ because _______) that he will pass along to their next teacher. “I explain this will be the first impression their new teacher will have of them,” Ferlazzo wrote in his Teacher Magazine blog. “This is one more way students can reinforce a positive self-image. It also opens the way for the student and new teacher to make an early personal connection when they meet in the fall.” [read more ]

    Educator Elena Aguilar encourages teachers to give kids time and tools to reflect on their school year. “They can write, make scrapbooks, record a video piece, or create drawings,” writes Aguilar in her Edutopia blog. “Prompt them to think about what they learned, how they learned, what was challenging, how they dealt with those challenges, what they feel proud of, how they changed, what advice they have for kids entering that grade next year, and so on.” [read more ]

    For more ideas from teachers, see these Education World articles:
    Closure Activities for the End of the School Year
    Favorite End-of-Year Activities


    Over the years, Education World has shared numerous ideas for end-of-year lessons that provide fun and learning – and help bring the year to a close on a high note. The links below will take you to some of those lessons.

    Wind Up Learning as the Year Winds Down: Activities For The Last Days of School
    The last few days of the school year are upon you, and you're at a loss for what to do. Do you emphasize fun or attempt to squeeze in some last-minute learning? Education World offers suggestions for keeping kids focused during the last hours of the school year. Included: More than a dozen great end-of-year ideas.

    End-of-Year Lessons -- Volume #3
    You're tired, and you're eager to get through the last few days, but you feel guilty about showing videos or letting the kids play games. Education World offers five more end-of-year activities that will engage students, and maybe even include some new learning.

    Making the Most of End-of-School Days
    "No more pencils, no more books, no more..." No more time? The last days of school may be upon you, and your students may already be chanting the traditional end-of-school cheer, but that doesn't mean that you have to succumb to the temptation to start summer early. Blow your students away with some cool end-of-year activities that combine fun and learning.

    More End-of-Year Lesson Ideas
  • Reviving Reviews: Refreshing Ideas Students Can't Resist
  • A 'Boring' Lesson in Geography
  • Invent Your Own Poetry Form: An End-of-the-Year Activity
  • Mystery States Game
  • It's Up for Debate
  • Math Fun -- Volume 1
  • Math Fun -- Volume 2
  • Make the 'Write' Impression
  • Ten Games for Classroom Fun
  • Don't Waste a Minute
  • Crisscrossing the Country: Scavenger Hunts for Kids of All Ages
  • Rock or Feather: A Critical-Thinking Activity
  • ABC Books Aren't for Babies
  • Summer Reading Lists Abound on the Web
  • Student Essays Describe 'Perfect' School
  • Wax Museum Biographies Teach and Entertain
  • Students Create a Virtual Tour of Their Community
  • Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    BLOG BITS #6:
    Sun Safety
    Suicide Toolkit
    Full-Day K
    Principal’s Cookbook
    Civil War Lessons

    Did you know that there are more cases of skin cancer each year than cases of breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancers combined! That adds up to more than one million Americans getting skin cancer annually.

    To help reduce the rising rates of skin cancer, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day – May 27, 2011 – as Don't Fry Day. The Council's goal is to encourage sun safety awareness by reminding everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors on Don't Fry Day and every day.

    The Council provides many free resources to help educators recognize Don’t Fry Day in their classrooms and throughout their schools. Visit the Don’t Fry Day website to learn more about how schools across the U.S. can recognize this special day. Don’t miss the Don’t Fry Day Resources for schools, which include

    As many communities closely examine school budgets for possible cost savings, some are considering cutting all-day kindergarten programs back to half days. A new report from the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children illustrates the connection between full-day kindergarten enrollment and later success in elementary school. School districts that provide full-day kindergarten see improved performance on standardized assessments, the report notes. For example, Pennsylvania school districts with full-day kindergarten saw third-grade math proficiency scores rise nearly twice as much as districts with part-day programs when compared to overall district performance three years prior.

    First-grade teacher Katie Richter, of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District in Allegheny County, has witnessed the difference in reading skills between full- and part-day kindergarten students. “My experience is the full-day K students are better readers in first grade than the part-day students were,” she said. Students who come from full-day kindergarten can jump into lessons at the start of a new school year without having to spend prolonged time on letter names and sounds, she added.


    After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools

    A new free resource, After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools, is available to help schools cope in the aftermath of a suicide. The guide was created by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the American Foundation for Suicide Preventions (AFSP), two of the nation’s leading organizations devoted to suicide prevention. Developed by a team of national experts, including clinicians and crisis response professionals, the online toolkit draws on scientific research and best practices.

    “Suicide can leave a school struggling with tremendous uncertainty about what to do next,” said Joanne Harpel, AFSP’s senior director for public affairs and postvention. “We also know that schools worry about the possibility of further suicides. This toolkit will answer frequently asked questions and help put school personnel at ease.”

    “Our toolkit also advises schools to treat all student deaths in the same manner, and not to inadvertently romanticize suicide,” added Peggy West of Education Development Center, Inc., a senior advisor for SPRC. “This is especially important as school communities consider how to handle events such as memorial services and graduation, and student activities such as the yearbook.”

    Free Civil War Lessons

    As we recognize the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Civil War Trust recently unveiled free lesson plans that explore the causes of the Civil War as well as its impact on the political, economic, military, and cultural life of the times. Separate sets of nine standards-based lessons were developed by teachers for students in elementary, middle, and high school grades.

    The Principal’s Cookbook

    The Principal’s Cookbook has arrived! The Cookbook is filled with more than 100 recipes for you to try out at upcoming end-of-year staff events or at this summer’s school/family cookouts or picnics. Click to order your copy.