The DonorsChoose Project Fulfillment team thought they’d seen it all. But out of the 255,472 projects funded this school year, a few caught our eye as extra out-of-the-box. With the unprecedented challenges of this school year came unprecedented creativity from teachers on DonorsChoose. Here are five of the most unusual items we ordered for projects this year:
1. An adult size inflatable rainbow unicorn costume
To make it even weirder, this project request also included an adult snowman costume, inflatable alien suit, chimpanzee mask, and a variety of party hats (including a turkey!). And if you’re thinking, “Makes sense for Halloween!”, this project was funded in March. Here’s what a costume wardrobe meant for some very entertained students in Oklahoma:
“Returning to school may have been scary for many of our students. At our school, we are required to wear masks for the safety of students, teachers, and staff. As we take temperatures and well-check tickets from the students, why not do it in style, and by style I mean dress up in goofy costumes for the emotional benefit of our students.
During our distance learning, a unicorn delivered lunches to cars filled with Falcon students and parents picking up lunches.
After an extended Christmas break, students were greeted by a snowman when arriving back to school.
The smiles were visible even though they were wearing masks. Their eyes showed excitement and hope.
Thank you for giving our students the incredible gift of smiling again!”
2. Puppet-fied versions of teachers
One Pre-K teacher was looking for a way to create magic and develop rapport with students and families, even while teaching with masks on and through a screen. How do you help the youngest learners get to know their remote teachers when you can’t share a smile? Mr. Andy’s answer: custom puppets of himself and his paraprofessional. (Bonus: he puppet-fied himself into a Jedi!)
“From moving to teaching from home to getting new students this late in the school year, it has been very stressful for adults and children involved. However, thanks to our personalized puppets, Ms. Chin will still be with us in puppet form and Professor Andy is helping our students get adjusted to the new changes. Puppets are amazing in how they can bring out smiles and laughter in children even in uncertain times. Thank you so much for supporting our kids with their social emotional development.”
3. Life-size cardboard cutout of Goofy
Sometimes an otherwise standard project request takes a sharp left turn. Like this project that asked for birthday stickers, highlighters, stamped envelopes, headphones, a social studies workbook… and a life-size cardboard Disney friend.
“Before donating to my project, you might have noticed something peculiar about my item list. I asked for a $40 life-sized cardboard cutout of Goofy. My fear was that some potential donors would see that item and think, "Oh, what a waste of money; I'm not donating to this project!" However, what I want you to know about my classroom is how significantly special Goofy is to me and my 65 students. Before being a teacher, I worked at Disney World where I was really good "friends" with Goofy, and so Goofy became a staple in many of my lessons.
Because of you and your generous donation, Goofy will now be able to join us in our classroom to help us learn through imagination and play, which research proves to be the most effective way to learn. So to you, the donor that didn't let Goofy deter you from donating, I graciously thank you and promise that these items you've provided me will be used for good and to provide the best education I can for my students.”
4. Everything but the kitchen sink
And other times, the list of requested items is so random that we’re extra grateful for a project essay that explains the idea. Before we spoil it, for what kind of project would you guess this teacher needed hot pink tablecloths, pink metallic tinsel, pink construction paper, marble tracks, tooth brushes, latex gloves, Ziploc bags, vinegar, Play-Doh, mailing tubes, and packing tape? If you said, “transforming a classroom into a digestive system big enough to play in!”, you’re right!
For students returning to the classroom after nearly a full year of virtual learning, this teacher wanted to bring in-person learning to life in a very memorable way:
“There will be four stations in the room, each representing a different part of the digestive system: Teeth/Mouth (Chomping food game and playdoh food creation), Esophagus (creating a bolus from playdoh food and fitting it down the cardboard tubes), stomach (vinegar and water in bag students will break down the bread with "stomach acid"), and finally the intestines (marble track to showcase the 7-meter tubes windy journey. The pink tablecloths, paper, tape, and decor are to create the inside of the body - inside our classhome!
Despite obstacles that would be too much for many adults, [my students] remain bright, funny, and fun-loving, and they really enjoy the safety and security that school brings. Our school not only keeps the kids safe, but it's a place where learning comes alive. It's a building steeped in passion and excitement, and it is my hope to continue to create a space that is safe, exciting, and educational!”
5. Monthly global snack subscription
Field trip projects are often extra special, but in a year where traveling wasn't possible, this teacher found a way to bring a worldwide experience right to her students’ desks (and mouths!): a Universal Yums subscription.
“This [monthly] snack subscription encourages my students to try new things and create shared experiences we would not otherwise be able to have amid the pandemic. Building community and looking after their mental health is challenging; this is an incredible way to "travel" while building our community together.
I also think it is incredible my students are learning more about the world around them through food and trivia which teaches them fun facts and customs and prompts discussions about the world around them. Thank you for helping make this possible and providing my students a unique opportunity they can look forward to amid a pandemic!”
Anything you dream up for your classroom can be yours through DonorsChoose. Have a wild idea? Start your project now!