The Magic of a Literary Vending Machine

As an educator, one encourages children to let their minds run wild and exercise their creative minds. And, being creative allowed the students and educators of Northeast Elementary School in Owasso, Oklahoma to think outside of the box when it comes to vending machines and rewards systems. 

Amanda Sordo, the school’s librarian, saw an idea from a neighboring school in which books are used in vending machines, as opposed to snacks.  The idea behind this vending machine was to provide a reward for students who have done an act of kindness for another student within the school. Sordo says, “This vending machine gives kids an opportunity to recognize other kids for the goodness they see in them. Kids write notes, which are put in a box, and then I am drawing ten names a day to give kids free books.” 

From there, students receive tokens to vend a book from the vending machine. This way, kids can build their at-home library by simply performing a good deed. 

The book vending machine builds excitement for the kids when it comes to reading, but it does so much more than that. Sordo goes on to say, “These kids are reading the good things that people see in them. It’s building morale, lowering bullying and it’s getting kids to read books. It’s an all-around good thing.”

When it came to the exterior design of the vending machine, one thing was for certain. It had to be customizable to include artwork that was provided by the kids themselves. “It was really important for the kids to have a big part in the design process,” Sordo says. “None of the other schools are even thinking to use the kids’ artwork like that. It turned out a lot better than I expected.” 

The students played a huge role in the book vending machine. A fundraiser was held in which they received more than enough to purchase the vending machine. Additionally, the students of Northeast Elementary School submitted artwork in the schoolwide contest. This artwork was then taken to social media, where people could vote for the top three designs. 

The word of the book vending machine quickly spread across Oklahoma by way of social media, local news outlets and various email communications. This has led to other schools in the area considering installing a book vending machine. If anyone is looking for advice on how to go about installing a book vending machine, Sordo offers a couple of tips. One is to be aware that one of the most challenging aspects of the machine is stocking it with books that will appeal to a wide range of students, including picture books and chapter books. The other piece of advice Sordo offers is to hold a fundraiser in order to involve the students. 

When asked about the process of working with Vending.com, Sordo says it was easy and accommodating. All of the questions were answered quickly and Vending.com worked quickly. The process to add the artwork to the machine was also a simple task. When setting up the machine, we ran into a few issues. I worked with Vendnet, Vending.com’s service group, to get it set up. They were very helpful and made the process easier.

Thinking outside the box when it comes to rewarding students for their good deeds is so important. Amanda Sordo and the staff at Northeast Elementary School were able to accomplish just that. With the help of Vending.com, they are able to provide students with books, while building character.

Vending.com can help you think outside of the box when it comes to vending a variety of needs. For questions, contact Todd Carber at (515) 271-8384 or tcarber@vending.com.

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