Saturday, January 19, 2013

Boost Parent Purchases from Scholastic Book Orders



I don't know about you, but I am in LOVE with Scholastic book orders. They are my best source for acquiring high quality, engaging books that my kinders can actually READ.
Tips to get the most bonus points from Scholastic orders

Level A and B books are nearly impossible to find in book stores or libraries. Seriously, I need to publish a collection of my own and start selling them to Barnes & Noble. They don't seem to have a clue about how desperate kindergarten parents are to purchase books that are super-easy for their young kinders to read. But I digress…

Fortunately, the Firefly and SeeSaw book clubs for Scholastic have some real gems inside each monthly catalog. There are lots of great books that are silly and just plain fun, but I really start to drool over the high quality nonfiction books that are sometimes sold in collections.

My current favorites are the Guided Science Readers. They are informational text that are easy to read, loaded with sight words, and very engaging (especially for my boys!)
Guided Science Readers from Scholastic = LOVE!

Getting new classroom books is always fun, but I rarely pay for them out of my own pocket. Thank the Lord for bonus points! Over the years, I've learned a few strategies for maximizing parent orders so I can supplement my classroom library and I am thrilled to share a few tricks of the trade with you.

I am not a Saleswoman

But before I really start sharing, let me begin by saying that I do not put pressure on parents to order from Scholastic. They get a note from me when the forms are sent home and 1-2 reminders in my class newsletter or website and THAT IS ALL. My goal is to make the ordering process as simple as possible for classroom parents, but not to make them feel guilty if they choose not to make a purchase.  I don't even mention book orders to my students because I do not think it is my place to put pressure on my classroom parents to purchase books.

With that said, some parents are very eager to purchase books and often want guidance for suggested reading materials. That's where I come in.

Circle Suggested Books in Each Order Form

Before the book order is sent home, I take the time to circle my top picks in every catalog. This usually includes the Guided Science Readers and other simple book collections that contain 8 pages in each book. I circle other favorites the children may have from class, such as Go Away, Big Green Monster, books by David Shannon, and of course our favorite character Pete the Cat.
maximize bonus points from Scholastic book orders

Yes, circling book titles in every catalog is somewhat tedious (especially since I usually send 3 catalogs home at a time), but I have found it to be effective. When parents do choose to order books, their orders often include my recommendations. If you have parent volunteers, this is a great job for them. Create a sample that shows all titles you want circled, and have the volunteer repeat the process.

I am aware that scholastic offers a similar component for online ordering that allows the teacher to circle suggested books and create a wishlist. I used this feature once or twice, but it did not work for me. I found the feature too clunky to navigate and the process took WAY too long. My time is too valuable to waste! Plus, since the paper catalog is the first thing most parents see, they can make a mental list of items to purchase, then find them online.

Put Scholastic Books in The Hands of Your Students

I also use many of the recommended books in my own classroom. My students become familiarized with MANY of these popular books and can share their opinion of the reading materials if parents want to involve their children in the decision-making process.


Introduce Storia E-books in your Classroom

Storia: e-books from Scholastic

I am also a huge proponent of Storia.
If you are not already familiar, Storia is Scholastic's online e-book store for purchasing and reading children's e-books. It is FANTASTIC. Many of the books offered in Storia include "enhanced" features (such as the ability for a child to listen to a story being read on the computer and as fun response activities).

My students love Storia too! Storia is available for PCs, iPad, and Android devices so I downloaded the program onto the two student computers in my classroom. My kinders are permitted to use the computers if their work is complete and this is always a popular classroom activity! It provides students with an opportunity to read and interact with e-books. It also serves as a great demo for my parent volunteers who are considering a download of the free Storia app or additional e-books. (Just in case you are wondering, the answer is YES! You do get Bonus Points for Storia purchases that your parents make as well!)
Use Storia e-books in the classroom

Use Parent Communication Tools From Scholastic

In addition to making personal book recommendations and introducing my students to books purchased from Scholastic, I provide parents with ordering information across several different paths of communication.
tips for encouraging parent orders from Scholastic

When sending out book orders,  I staple all forms together with a note on top that explains the due date for order forms, how to order books (in case someone will be ordering for the first time), along with the url to order online and my class code for new parents. This is a modified version of the sample note Scholastic offers online.



Templates for letters, email and custom labels to print and attach to the order forms are available  when you log in to Scholastic. Just scroll down until you see these tools.
communication tools from Scholastic to maximize parent orders

As a final step, I place a custom HTML banner on my class blog and website to remind parents that Scholastic orders can be placed online. When parents click on the banner, it directs them to Scholastic's ordering page. This bright little image is so much more appealing to click than a boring old text link.
Scholastic provides HTML buttons for teachers to place on class websites for book orders

Looking Back...

When I first started teaching, very few parents ordered materials from the Scholastic book orders (probably because I hadn't developed any of these great ideas yet.) Instead, the book orders became my personal book store. I spent a few years building up my classroom library and capitalized on the bonus points I earned from my own purchases. At the end of the day, it's all about getting high-quality books into the hands of your students. My hope is that you can save yourself a few dollars along the way and build a book collection by capitalizing on LOTS of bonus points.

Do you have any tips from your own classroom to maximize class orders from Scholastic?


34 comments:

  1. I am so glad that I read this post. I love Scholastic as well but have stopped sending home order forms this year due to being so discouraged. I had sent out a few forms at the start of the year and only got one order returned. I was disappointed to say the least. I mean how can you pass up these great books at such wonderful prices? Now after reading this, I am wondering if it was b/c I simply slapped a letter on top of the forms and left the parents to do the rest. I love the circle the books idea. I'm going to give that a try next month and see if I get a better response.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Erin
    wwww.missandersonkinder.blogspot.com

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    1. Erin, I understand how you feel. For a few years, I only had 1 person order books and the $10 they spent didn't make it worth my time. I also mention book orders at our curriculum night to get them excited about buying books their kids can read.

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  2. I really like the idea of circling books. It makes so much sense.

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  3. Sometimes little things make a big difference. Good luck!

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  4. What a fantastic post Maria! So very well said and informative!
    The Moffatt Girls

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  5. I do the same thing - only I don't circle the books. I always staple a note including the date orders are due and who to make check out to (etc.), so I add my "Teacher's Picks" to that list...ex. From the January Seesaw : #34 - Read to learn, #21 - Pete and Cat..I also add suggestions to go along with whatever theme we're currently working on for parents who want to connect with the curriculum. I make sure to put clip art that matches the theme/month to attract interest..

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    1. I attempted to create a list once or twice but for some reason that system didn't work for me and I wan't motivated to continue with it. So glad that is is working for you though!

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    2. I do the same thing with an attached letter but I include the reading level as well since I have a PP3 to 5th grade level in my room. Love the $5 coupons they've been sending out as well!

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  6. I haven't passed out book orders all year just because I don't get a lot of parents buying. Maybe I should add the recommended books idea to my orders. Thanks for sharing.

    Jennifer
    Darling Little Learners

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    1. Hi Jennifer! Sometimes parents just need a little suggestion to get the ball rolling. Best of luck!

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  7. Before I place an online order (goodness- before I order ANYTHING online!) I always search for an online coupon code. I tend to use a website called "RetailMeNot.com". Just last month they had a Scholastic code for 1,000 free bonus points with a $20 order! So not only was Scholastic running a special that if you placed a $20 order you got $20 in free books immediately, I also had 2 $3 coupons for free books from my students ordering online in December, but I also got 1,000 in extra bonus points! Holy Moly! I had over $50 in free books just by placing my own $20 order! So worth it! So I'd suggest doing a quick search for a coupon code before ordering.
    I also keep a few items in my wish list online in Scholastic. Every once in a while I have a parent that surprises me with that item!
    OH! And my last tip- I use Ebates, an online program that literally pays me to shop online- and I think I get about 3% back for all my Scholastic orders. So I always finish placing the orders from home, and if I chose, I can use those checks I get in the mail for more books! I am addicted! :)

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    1. WOW, those are some fantastic ideas! I'm terrible about looking for coupons online but you have inspired me! I will definitely have to check out Ebates and RetailMeNot. Thank you for sharing!

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    2. Great tips, Maria & Mrs. Jensen. I had no idea there could be additional online coupon codes out there. Very interesting! I've been including an attached list of recommendations, but I think circling might work better. Then they have an instant visual and summary rather than just telling them it's on page 2, etc. Thanks for sharing these ideas!
      ~Melissa
      Teacher Treasure Hunter

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  8. I also LOVE Scholastic Book Clubs. Instead of taking the time to circle all of my "TOP PICKS" in each catalog, I type up a quick note to parents listing my recommendations, including item numbers and price. Then I staple the half-sheet note to the catalogs before sending them home. This way parents have an idea about quality books to order and I save time!

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  9. I don't get a lot of parents buying either....I need to get better at communication. Thanks for your post.

    I do buy books with my own money, and save up points for bigger things. I have gotten two laptops. I buy those dollar books in classroom size sets. Reading buddies will read them to us, each kiddo gets one for their reading box for a time, and I can devise lessons and everyone has a book to look at. I also check out Honey Bee. Sometimes you need to go younger to find the books that are just right for your kids.

    Terri
    KinderKapers

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  10. I've found that once I hit $20 you get a bunch of free books, plus coupons they send. I rarely spend more than $30 and get at least $20 worth of free books. I LOOOOOVE Scholastic!

    My students rarely order as well, so I may have to try a few of these tips! Thanks!

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  11. Great tips and ideas. I'm going to try the circling a few book suggestions for next months book order. Thanks for sharing!

    Team V's First Grade Fun

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  12. You've said it all so very well. I think Scholastic should send you something!

    Thanks for mentioning the sidebar order link; I haven't placed it on my class blog, but I will!
    ReadWriteSing

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  13. I have tried to use scholastic through debates.com but it never lets me shop through the scholastic book clubs sites. I can only get cash back for the scholastic.com store.

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  14. I love Scholastic Book Orders too! I just placed a huge online order yesterday! I had TONS of coupons they've been sending me and I plugged them all in so I am getting lots of freebies PLUS bonus point books!

    Thanks for the great tips!

    Pam
    Pocketful of Centers

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  15. I have had lots of luck this year by:
    1. Sending an order home on a Friday! (Pay Day!)

    2. Spending the last 5-10 minutes of the day looking through the catalog WITH the kids - and having them circle 5-6 of their favorites! {what parent can say NO to a kid asking for a book??}

    3. Instead of Birthday Treats - I do Birthday Books! The birthday boy/girl brings in a book to share with the class and then donates it to the class library (with a dedication inside: "This book is for Jack's 6th birthday!" Scholastic offers the best deal, so a lot of my parents buy the birthday book from them!

    4. I only place ONLINE orders! This is nice because every parent that orders gets a $5 coupon back from Scholastic and I get $3 for each parent order. SCORE!

    This year I've been building up my Listening Center library! It SO nice to not have to spend my own money! Yay for Scholastic! :)

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  16. I love your blog and I am your newest follower! As I was reading, I thought it might be easier if you typed a list of your book picks and just referenced the catalog and page number where that book could be found, you could staple it to the front of the order forms and save yourself a lot of time! Just a thought :) Thanks for sharing some great ideas!

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  18. i give my students a few minutes to look over catalog and tell them to circle a few books that they want and to show their parents. They get very excited about the books! :)

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  19. I enjoyed this post, it made me realise I have not placed enough emphasis on scholastic as I should.

    Also, thanks for making me aware of Storia- I must give it a go.

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  20. I am your newest Canadian Follower. I love Scholastic too! After reading your post I quickly went to my clubs online site to check out Storia and to see if we had the option of parents placing orders on line. I was not able to find either :( If I happened to miss something and other Canadian teachers know about these options - please let me know! Great post!

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  21. My class and I love Storia! Thanks for all these great tips! :)
    Cheryl
    Crayons and Curls

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  22. Some of my best buyers are my friends that are grandmas. I give them the flyers and they love to order books for the grandkids!

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    1. Grandma's make great customers! I wish I had access to more grandmothers of little children... such a wonderful idea!

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  24. This year, I have converted to a completely digital Scholastic experience! I send an email to parents. as well as posting it on my blog, when I open the ordering window. They pay directly through the Scholastic site so that means no money collection for me! Yay! When a parent places an order, I get an email. Scholastic saves all of the orders until I want to "check out." The parents are ordering lots of Storua books and I get major money toward new books!
    Oh! Also, make sure you sign up as a school representative. That way, kids from other classes who don't participate in book ordering can order from you and you get the points!

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  25. I am a teacher and a parent. I often submit a small order through my parent email for my child to get the $3 and $5 coupons. Also, if I have close to $20 worth of orders, I will male it $20 so I can $10 in free books. I THINK, THINK if u put in 2 $20 seperately, you will $10 free to spend w EACH order right then.

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  26. Thank you for sharing these tips! They are worth gold to me (and my classroom).

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