Each year, we have a 5th Grade Graduation as students leave our elementary school and head on over to the middle school. Parents are completely in charge of organizing and running this event. In addition, the 5th graders always perform a "5th Grade Act" song and dance.
Our class does a Science Fair each year to better understand the Scientific Method, inquiry, and to follow a project through a lengthy process. Parents are invited to the event and they are encouraged to ask questions and listen to the presentations! Most say they are blown away by what each child was able to accomplish!
At the end of each year, our school puts on a Field Day where students participate in various outdoor activities. Parents run each event and give all directions and support.
Three times per week, my students participate in 21st Century Literature Circles. We have a parent (or grand-parent) scheduled for every period to participate with a group, ask questions about the books, and help clarify questions that the kids may have. This gives families great insight into the regular routine in our classroom (many stay until the end of the day!).
Art Appreciation continues in our school. Although we have a wonderful art program, parents and teachers love that this program continues! Art Appreciation is where parents inspire the love of art in children through short learning experiences and hands-on art projects!
Having parents help out on Field Trips is a no-brainer! It's always a good idea to have some extra hands when 25 students are wandering around huge museums and far-away places! :)
I always ask my room reps to be in charge of the Halloween party and parade each year! Reason #1 is that they are far more creative with their ideas. Reason #2 is it's such a fun time to kick back and relax while I watch everyone have such a fun time!!!
Valentine's Day is another opportunity to have parents run the show! After all, kids can be crazy during these events! Parents have great ideas for games, activities, food, etc. If it were up to me, we'd spend our time getting work done, so it's a good thing my parents are so willing to run this one!!! ;)
Some more ideas:
- I cook every Monday at a local soup kitchen, so I have set up a schedule for my families to join me to help set-up, serve, and take-down! It's been one of the best partnerships that I've formed with my families!
- RtI Time (a.k.a. "Stations") is a great time to invite parents into the classroom. While you are working with students in small groups, parents can run a group, be a presence to ensure good behavior, or assist students!
- Every year, our class has an Energy Debate where six teams compete to see which alternative energy source would be the best solution for our country to invest in. I always invite families to come in and watch the final round!
- Since our students learn Chinese in 4th and 5th grade as part of their curriculum, I decided to bring in Chinese Calligraphy as a fun lesson that mirrors what children do in school in China. Parents make great helpers during this lesson!!!
- Our class created a short skit and presented it during our community's Arbor Day event at our local park. It was great having parents show up to see the amazing performance that my students put on!
- As a reward for excellent behavior during assemblies, fire drills, and for substitutes, my students earn "degrees" towards a classroom party. I love having parents attend these, so I have a distraction from my students' craziness! :)
- Since our students' parents are so connected through work and other situations, I have found it amazing to bring in experts that can shed some light on something we are learning about in class! Here we invited a local judge into the classroom to help us better understand the judicial system!
- Our school has "Curriculum Snapshots" each trimester where parents are invited into the classroom to see what goes on during a typical day. Teachers are discouraged from doing too much out of the ordinary, because the idea is that parents see and participate in everyday lessons!