May 9, 2011

Penny Wars!

We just finished what is quite possibly one of my and my students' favorite fundraisers that we do all year, and I just had to take a moment to share with all of you.

This is an awesome way to raise money for a good cause. This year our Americorps members ran it, and the money earned is going to relief efforts for Japan. I'm so proud of all the staff and students at my small school. We raised over $2,000!

If you have never played, here are the rules: 

The object of the game is for each team to collect as many pennies as possible during the “war” while 
simultaneously “sabotaging” the other teams.  Of course, the ultimate object of the game is to give the 
students an opportunity to raise money to support a project that helps others.  

Each team collects coins in a see-through, narrow-necked container labeled with each homeroom teacher's name. Large water jugs are ideal, but one-gallon plastic milk jugs will also do the job.  

The containers are kept in places with adult supervision.  Home rooms, the school library, or a location in view of the office staff are good choices.

Students bring pennies to school and put their pennies in the container that belongs to their team.  Their 
team receives one point for every penny in the container. 

But it gets more complicated.  Students may sabotage the other teams by putting “silver” coins (nickels, 
dimes, and quarters) into the containers of the other teams.  Each silver coin subtracts points from that 
container by the value of the coin.  A nickel subtracts 5 points from the total, a dime reduces it by 10, and a quarter by 25. Dollar bills also work and subtract by the value of the bill. $1 reduces it by 100 points. This is where strategy comes into play.  This is why the game is so much fun. 

Containers may be emptied and counted daily or they may accumulate until the last day of the contest. 
The pennies and silver coins are counted separately.  The total monetary amount of the silver coins is 
deducted from the total number of pennies. 

Some groups prefer for the totals for all classes to be posted daily to encourage friendly competition. The 
totals (for pennies, silver, and points) may be posted as tallies. A chart, blackboard, or whiteboard, in a 
central location, would work well for these postings. 

Other groups like to keep the results a secret, and to not count the coins or reveal the standings until the 
last day.  This leads to lots of speculative strategies and tactics. 

Either way will work—you should decide which way is best for your group, and then stick with that 
process through the entire Penny War. Typically the Penny War lasts for 1 week.

We've had a blast with this for the past few years. Each year things change a little. Once we played where all the jugs were in the cafeteria and students put their coins in upon arrival. My favorite has been the past two years where the bins are right outside of each homeroom teacher's door. It gets the staff in on the fun too!

If you haven't done this, I definitely recommend it!
Have you ever done this fundraiser at your school? How are your rules alike/different from ours?

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