We all know how important is it to have strong links between home and school. There are many ways that you can go about this. Consistent communication, inviting parents in to participate in celebrations (publishing parties etc.) math game night… are just a few ideas. There was an event at my school last week, that I just have to brag up, though. We had a spring carnival!
First of all, it was the parents who organized this spring carnival and it never would have happened without the strong, motivated and caring group of parents that we have. The goal of the carnival was to break down some of the barriers that often exist between home and school. Some parents actually become physically ill at the thought of having to enter the school, because of their own issues that they had in school as students. In addition to trying to promote the positive connections between parents, teachers and students – the carnival was a fund-raiser for the school.
There were carnival games in the gym that were run by the older students: Toilet paper toss, bean bag toss, a fish pond, basketball free throws…We even had a radar gun to see how fast students could shoot a puck or toss a ringette ring. Everyone who played got a small prize.
There was a cake walk every half hour and the 6 donated cakes were AMAZING! If you’ve never done a cake walk, there’s a grid of about 25 – 30 numbers on the floor (however many participants you want). Participants pay to play ($1.00 for us) and stand on a number. Then, the numbers are drawn out one at a time. The last person standing wins a cake of their choice! Our event was 6:00-9:00 in the evening and so there was a cake walk held every half an hour.
We had face painting, a sundae bar – even a teddy bear clinic! The local EMTs came in with all of their gear, ambulances sitting in the parking lot – lights flashing, and helped to “fix” the sick teddy bears that our students brought in. That was a big hit with the younger kids!
We had a silent auction with hundreds of dollars worth of items that our Home and School got donated. Finally, each class in the school was responsible to bring in an item for a “basket”. Grade 7 had the “Kitchen Basket”. This meant that every student had to bring in one small item to go into our basket. Tickets would be sold for these baskets – again proceeds going to the school. There was a candy basket, a movie night, summer fun baskets, scrapbooking, writers’ basket and more.
I LOVE how they organized the gift basket giveaway. If you need a simple fund-raiser, you may want to think about this one!
If you wanted tickets for the gift baskets, you could buy an envelope of tickets for $2.00 (or three envelopes for $5.00). Each envelope had 20 tickets inside with the same number on them (the numbers and names were recorded as they were sold). So, if you bought envelope #73, all of your tickets had 73 on them and your name was recorded on our list as having bought envelope 73.
There were bins in front of each basket, and since the envelopes had 20 tickets inside – people could put a ticket in to each bin and have a chance to win every basket OR they could put all of their tickets into the bin of the basket that they wanted the most. It worked beautifully! One ticket was drawn at the end of the night, from each bin, and those lucky winners got the lovely gift baskets!
I have two young children and so after helping to set up the carnival after school, I went back up to the school with my own kids. We had a blast! The best part was seeing how laid back everyone was – just having a good time. It is, hands down, the most positively I have seen parents, teachers and students connect in this community where “school” is concerned. We all just got to have FUN! The carnival was huge success all around and we exceeded the original goals set. That one night brought in over $6 000. Our school is K-7 with just over 350 students, in a community of about 1 200. It was amazing!
I’d love to hear about how your school works to connect with parents. Also, what has your school’s most successful fund-raiser been?