Getting to Know the Parents and Students
As you prepare for the start of school, you know that the Back To School Night will be fast approaching. Whether you're looking to get to
know the students better, foster an atmosphere of fun, or simply have something new and creative to present the students and parents, read on.
These ideas are meant to be assigned to the students on the first day, or week of school, and then the children will have time to prepare the project for the first open house. Some of the ideas may require a template to be photocopied and passed out; others would just require a page of directions. Whatever idea you choose, remember to relax and enjoy the night. Getting to know your students and their families better is the ultimate goal.
Five Fun Projects
1. Design a Wacky Apple: So often teachers are associated with apples! You could do a whole theme in your classroom with apple posters, apples to eat, and other apple cutouts leading up to the door, on the floor, etc.
The assigned project would be for each student to decorate a red or green apple at home. The students could use pipe cleaners, toothpicks, thumb tacks, googly eyes, etc. to design the apple. Things that poke into the apple (like the pipe cleaners and toothpicks) would stay in place on their own; the other items may need to be glued. Students would bring their finished apple on the Back To School Night, and you could display them on the student’s desks, or on a specially arranged area with their names besides their apples.
2. Quilt Squares: For this idea, students would be each designing an individual quilt square to all be put together at the Back To School Night. You could use felt or cardstock, cutting each piece into a good-sized square. If you have a parent that sews, or if you sew, you could ideally give each student a piece of cloth that could be drawn on with markers. Sew the pieces together after the Open House, leaving the finished product up all year.
Each student would be given the material to design along with a page of instructions of what to include on their square. The things they would want to include on their square could be their name, designs of their favorite foods, hobbies, pets, or family members. At the Back To School Night you would want to have a large piece of paper, already gridded, so the students’ designs could be taped to the grid to form the quilt. This idea lets you get to know about the student, and starts to develop a sense of unity among the students, as the quilt comes together.
3. Bingo Sheet About Child: For this idea, you would want to make a template for each child to take home of a page that looks like a blank bingo board with 16 or more squares. You will also want to send home an instruction sheet of what to do with the template. You will want the student to fill in each square with things that describe themselves. For example, a student may list brown hair, blue eyes, likes to play softball, takes piano lessons, etc.
On the Back To School Night students will bring their Bingo Board (make sure to have some extra blank ones on hand, in case a child forgets!). Students can place their bingo card on their desk and then walk around to other desks to fill in their initials on things that match the other students’ cards. For example, if Jillian walks around and finds Bobby’s card says brown hair, and she has brown hair, she would place her initials in the box that says brown hair. You would want to limit how many boxes each student can fill in total throughout the classroom.
4. About Me Poster: For this idea, you will want to send home a template for each child to work on until Back To School Night. It would have a circle for a picture of the child’s face. It would also include a picture of a child’s upper body, and the hands would be traced so there would be room to write on each finger. Students would glue a picture of their face in the circle and on the fingers they would write 10 things about themselves, one thing on each finger.
5. Favorite Family Recipe: For this idea, students will bring in a family recipe that is their favorite. Have the student and/or the family to write or type it out. As the students bring these to the Back To School Night, let the students and families know you’d be compiling them for a recipe book for the classroom.
If your school allows this, you could limit the favorite recipes to snacks and desserts and have each family bring in the dish made up, along with the recipe. This would turn your classroom into a little potluck, while getting to know the children and families better.
Take pictures of the finished projects and display them on your school's website, or a personal web page, if you have one for your class. Children love sharing about themselves, so as you foster this from the first days and weeks of school, your classroom will become close-knit.
- Image: Cheese Soup Recipe.jpg, Brian Kelley, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0