Fundraising? It’s time to break out your arts and crafts resources, and get creative, says Judith Harries…
This article is jam-packed with art-based ideas for early years settings seeking to raise funds for themselves or charities. From organising exhibitions of children’s pictures, to which you can invite families, friends and members of the public, to craft fairs, books sales and other special events, there’s something for everybody. As long as you explain where the funds will be used – e.g. to buy equipment for your setting, or to give to a recognised charity – most parents will be very happy to contribute!
Invite your children to paint self-portraits. Provide mirrors so they can look closely at their reflections. Set up easels and let them choose different-sized pieces of paper. Ask them to draw their faces faintly in pencil first. Remind the children to sign their names at the bottom of their picture. Frame the best paintings and display them in a portrait gallery. Create a catalogue listing all the paintings and their prices! You can invite parents to come to the gallery opening, share a drink, view the pictures and purchase their favourite…
Try using a different stimulus for the children’s art, for example, a popular early years topic like ‘transport’ or ‘homes’. Ask the children to bring in a photo of their car or house. Can they draw or paint a picture of either? Alternatively, provide lots of different collage materials and create textural collages of the photograph.
Display both the photo and artwork together in a gallery as above, and invite the community to attend.
Find out about local artists in your area. You may have links to a local artist yourself already, or know someone who does. Go to minigallery.co.uk and look at the work of local artists online or invite one to visit your setting and show the children their work. Can the children create some artwork inspired by their visitor? Organise a joint exhibition of artworks by the artist and children, and invite the community as above.
Spring plant stall
In the spring, prepare for a plant or flower stall at your setting. Use acrylic paints or a half-and-half mix of ready mix paint and PVA glue to decorate small plastic or ceramic plant pots. Alternatively, go outside and use spray paint over shape templates, which gives a good effect. Plant sunflower or other fast-growing seeds in the pots, or try growing some herbs from seed. When ready, these can be sold at the plant stall.
Try the following ideas:
● Letting children write their names, and the names of the plants onto wooden tongue depressors – they make ideal plant labels! These can also be sold at the plant stall.
● Finding a local supplier or grower of bedding plants that you can buy direct from for a good price. Send out an order form designed and decorated by the children to parents, so they can pre-order bedding plants. Explain that any funds raised will be used for the benefit of their children. Arrange for the bedding plants to be delivered on the day of the spring plant stall.
Invite children to draw their own Christmas card designs. Talk about different ideas for pictures, then choose the best designs and print off packs of cards to sell to parents, friends and other contacts.
Hands and feet prints
Make some salt and flour dough with the children using these proportions: 1 cup of plain flour, 1/2 a cup of table salt, and approx. 1/2 a cup of water mixed together. Let the children knead the dough until it’s soft and easy to use. Roll it out into a flat shape about 1 cm thick. Cut a circle or oval shape for each child, big enough for their hand or foot. Show the children how to press their hand or foot into the dough to make an impression or print. Make two holes in the top with a straw so that the prints can be hung up once finished.
Bake in a very cool oven for 2–3 hours until the dough is dried out, turning once, then leave the prints to cool and harden. Paint them if preferred, and thread a ribbon through the holes to hang. Write children’s names and the date on the back.
Try the following ideas:
● Using coloured paint to create individual hand and foot prints instead. They’re all a great way of capturing an important moment in time, which parents and grandparents love to have as a keepsake.
● Inviting parents to bring in younger siblings to your setting, and making hands and feet plaques or paintings for them to buy.
Create silhouette profiles of your children. Sit each child in front of a plain wall or screen, facing sideways and take a photograph using a digital camera. Print out copies of the photo and use a photocopier to change the size to smaller or bigger. Cut the shape out roughly and stick onto a piece of black sugar paper. Help children to cut round their profile as carefully as possible. Turn over to see the profile silhouette. Stick picture-side down onto a piece of pastel-coloured card as a mount and then frame. Put the silhouettes on display and invite parents to come and see if they can recognise their child; those who are successful could win the artwork as a prize!
Have you a gifted or talented artist in your setting? Check out jackdrawsanything.com where a young boy called Jack draws pictures ‘to order’ for charity. Can any child in your setting draw well? If so, why not publicise this service to your parents and families, who can commission specific pictures?
Buy a batch of plain white or pastel-coloured t-shirts. Help the children to draw designs for their t-shirts on paper first. Provide fabric felt pens and/or paints for them to transfer their designs onto the shirts. These can be worn as part of a special occasion, for instance, your setting’s birthday or anniversary. Invite parents to buy the shirts for their children as a souvenir.
Ask children to bring in a plain white or pastel-coloured t-shirt, or cut up a plain white sheet into squares of fabric. Show children how to tie elastic bands around twisted pieces of fabric, and enclose buttons or beads inside some of the twists. Prepare a cold water dye according to packet instructions (it’s best for adults to wear rubber gloves and handle the dyeing stage!). Leave the fabric in the dye for about 15 minutes. Rinse and then let children carefully remove the bands to reveal the patterns. Leave the fabric to dry.
The children can wear their garments at a fashion show. Parents and friends can be invited to come along and purchase the shirts.
Many settings use children’s drawings to decorate and print tea towels and then sell them on to the parents and families. Go to countrysideart.co.uk for more information.
Invite grandparents to come to a special day at your setting. Play games, sing traditional songs and rhymes, ask them to read stories, and share a cream tea together. Make scones with the children on the day, and make some jam in advance – you can decorate the jars with labels designed by the children. Grandparents can be encouraged to buy a jar of jam to enjoy at home.
World Book Day
To celebrate World Book Day, invite staff and children to dress up as a favourite book character. Buy in some plain cotton book bags and let children decorate them using fabric paints. Sell them to parents or the public at a bargain price. Combine this with a second-hand book stall and sell the book bags to carry the books home in!
Craft fair or pound bazaar
Invite parents, carers and members of the public to come to your setting for a sale to raise funds. Set up stalls offering face painting, guessing games, second-hand books, a toys tombola, and so on.
Try the following idea:
● Using the craft fair or bazaar to sell the children’s other art and craft activities.
Judith Harries is an author and teacher of music and drama, with experience of working with children aged nine months to 11 years.
Observations – using a strengths-based approach