I am happy to say that we had a lot of success with this program, learned a lot, and plan to continue (and expand it!) next year. My goal was to collect 100 votes with the Firefly Kits and we ended up collecting 196 votes. Together with the other programs we did, we sent in over 200 votes. I'm really proud of that and hope that we can make it even more next year!
Teachers were really enthusiastic about participating. I had the most success in reaching out to preschools and daycares that we have already worked with in the past, but I hope that next year with some experience under our belt we may be able to advertise it more broadly and pick up some new groups.
I really did not have to convince teachers about the worth of this program. Once they understood what it was, they were super into it. I had several teachers ask me about participating again, so I think we'll hit the ground running next year. My plan is to get this started earlier in the year next year since we now have a template for it. That will allow more time for the teachers to keep the bags and more time to spread the word.
I decided to make the bags circulating for one week, but several of the teachers kept them longer in order to do the activities in the provided teacher guide. One preschool made their own voting poster for the whole school. One preschool even took pictures of all the crafts the kids did and make a big thank-you poster for us! I love the creative things the teachers thought to do with the voting and I want to encourage that. I had no problem being flexible with the check-out time since we never had a wait list for the bags. Next year, starting earlier will give us even more time, so I will probably extend the check-out time.
Next year, I would also like to circulate the bags to families, too. We did not have a ton of participation from individual families with our in-house voting. I think we might get more participation if families could check out all the books and read at home. I didn't want to do that this year since we had a limited number of bags for our pilot program and I had a small window of time. I wanted to concentrate on groups of kids to get the most bang for our buck. If we offer the bags circulating to the public, I think it'll be easier to spread the word and that may catch the eye of our local teachers, too.
It was a great, pretty easy program to run and I think our teachers and their students got a lot out of it. It was definitely successful and I'm excited about doing it again next year!