Kid Activities
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End of the School Year Activities

January 13, 2012 20:00 by Barbara Shelby


Updated June, 2013


An "End-of-the-Year event" may seem unimportant, however it is a VERY IMPORTANT activity. It's the end of the school year! The CLOSURE cements the experience of the year, and positive memories have an effect on the children's attitude. 

 In this category are ideas for display boards, games, literacy, treats, feel good, and just plain fun!

This is a time to look back and reflect --as well as a time to think ahead. Additionally, be sure to recognize your graduating youth--both grade school and middle school-- in some way!





Read "Goodbye House" & "Goodnight Moon"...
A nice idea for younger children... 
1.  Do a compare and contrast of the two books.
2.  Then have the children draw pictures of the things they would like to say "goodbye to" in your room.
3.  It's good "therapy" because we know how hard it can be to say goodbye to our familiar room and friends. When complete... bind it into a program book titled 'GOODBYE ROOM'.



Play PIN THE MUSTACHE on the Teacher/Caregiver

Blow up a picture (or draw one) of one of your staff members...Make/cut mustaches out of black construction paper. Place tape on the back of each mustache. Then the game proceeds just like 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey'.
IDEA: You could also get permission from the school principal (or a favorite school person) and pin the mustache on a picture of them!



Grade 3 (Or__________ ) HAS BEEN A BALL!

This is a fun and different way to have an autograph party as a remembrance of the time spent in child care program or class. 

Beach balls are fairly inexpensive--order some from a novelty company-have children blow them up and then get autographs from each other on the balls! 



  1. Have a "WHAT I WANT TO BE DAY" and invite kids to come dressed up in clothing that REPRESENTS a job that interests them.
2Have students research their chosen profession and report to the group---and/or make posters depicting their chosen occupation.
3.  Just thinking of things they can wear, design, and make could take up a portion of the week!!!
4.  Take pictures of the event to add to your program scrapbook and for kids to take home.



Cara Bafile, shared one of her favorite activities in "Education World" WORLD -- making tin-can ice cream. Ice cream is good any time of year -- but this activity is a great small-group activity for the last days of school! It's one of those 'teacher hand-me-downs' with no particular source. I have seen some similar recipes using self-sealing plastic bags, but she vouches for this one --and says-- you'll make the best ice cream you'll ever have!"

(Ice cream without an ice-cream maker!)
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup whipping cream
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (pure vanilla extract works best!)
Other materials needed:
• 1 small coffee can
• Strapping tape (It's the only tape I've found that will hold the lid tightly in place.)
• 1 large coffee can
• 1-1/2 cups rock salt
• Crushed ice (2 bags)
• Rubber spatula
• Spoons, cups, and bowls

Mix the ingredients in the small coffee can and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Tape the lid on the can securely with strapping tape. Place the "filled" small coffee can inside the large coffee can. Pack the large can with crushed ice around the smaller can. Pour at least 3/4 cup of rock salt evenly over the ice. Place the lid on the large coffee can and tape securely with strapping tape. Roll the can back and forth for ten minutes. Then open the outer can. Remove the inner can. Remove the lid and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula. Scrape the insides of the can. Do not allow mixture to become liquid. Replace the lid on the small can. Tape securely again. Drain the ice water from the larger can. Insert the small filled can. Pack it with more ice and salt. Roll it back and forth for five more minutes. Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 3 cups of ice cream. Teachers/caregivers might adapt the recipe, depending on the size of the group or whether they want small groups of students to make their own batches.


Many schools save the last days of school for their annual "egg drop" activity. Each student works within guidelines to fashion a container for an egg so that the egg won't break when the student drops it from an established height… 

Use hard boiled eggs (you could probably do raw-but be cautious of Salmonella and spoilage!).
Have each child create their own container for the egg -- with the purpose of the egg not breaking. Some kids have used "parachutes," and cans with foam. It can be a lot of fun!

Of course, everyone's hypothesis should be that their egg won't break.
The testing is the fun part---when the youth see if their egg remains intact! For this you want to drop the egg container from the highest available point.... A second floor balcony, off the top bleacher of the football field or by a teacher on a ladder?
*Even though this is for older students, it can be adapted to the lower grades without going into weight and velocity.



Send students rolling into the next year by making grade-number-shaped soft pretzels. When it is ready, cut the dough into small pieces and give one to each child. Have students stretch and roll the pieces into long ropes, then shape into the number representing next year's grade.

As the pretzels bake, invite the group to talk about favorite moments of the past year, and to speculate on what next year will bring. Give teachers, office staff, and others a special thanks by inviting them in to your program pretzel celebration.

1 pkg. dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. butter, melted (or 2 tbsp. vegetable oil)
4 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
Course salt
1. In a large bowl, soften yeast in water for 10 minutes. Add salt, sugar and butter. Mix in flour until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 minutes and set aside for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With a knife, cut dough into small pieces. Roll each piece into pencil-thin ropes and shape into pretzels. Spray a cookie sheet with PAM type product.
3. Place pretzels onto sprayed cookie sheet. Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle coarse salt on top. Bake for 12 minutes.

2 - 16 oz. loaves frozen bread dough
1 egg white, slightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Coarse salt
• Separate thawed bread into 24 - 1 1/2" balls.
• Roll each ball into a rope 14 1/2" long.
• Have children plan and design pretzel shapes (letters or numerals).
• Put pretzels one inch apart on a baking sheet
• Brush with egg white mixture
• Sprinkle with salt
• Follow baking directions for bread dough
• Check early since they will cook faster than a loaf of bread



These are nice any time of then year--but especially nice for the end of the school year!
Give kids lengths of string, yarn or embroidery floss.
If these are new to your group...demonstrate how to braid the string together to create a friendship bracelet--have kids make their own design and add beads if desired.

FYI: Friendship bracelets made for friends should be tied on by the friend if possible to an arm or on an ankle and worn until it falls off naturally. Threads commonly used are floss and will wear in time. There are some friendship bracelets made for wishing wishes, those are fun but tend to be thinner as the 'friends' like them to fall off faster so that the wish can come true.



1. Have each child bring a pre-washed white shirt to school on one of the last days of the year.
2. Paint each child's hand with bright-colored paint; then have them press their handprint onto the T-shirt.
3. Have children sign their names under their handprints.
4. Last, have them collect autographs from their friends using thick, pointy-tipped, permanent black markers to sign the T-shirts.
5.  You could also just write the grade and year on the front or back of the t-shirt and have all students sign the shirt---and perhaps add a personal touch with a favorite saying or drawing.

Donna Thomas, a teacher at Heritage Prep Middle School in Orlando, Florida has said, I still hear comments from the children; they say things like 'I remember all my friends from first grade, even the ones who've moved away, because their names are on the shirt.



At your end-of-year party, give each child a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.
Have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, have kids toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud --with the rest of the group.
(Actually, work the last part out in a way that the majority of the group likes---read one message, several messages, or all or no messages) 

OMPLIMENT (A nice way to end the school year!)
Need: Paper, markers, tape 
1.  Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
2.  Each person is given a marker.
3.  Each person in the group must walk around the room and write a compliment or positive remark about that person on their back..... NO PEEKING!
4.  When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
5.  With a smaller group, everyone exchanges papers without looking at their own. Each participant can take a turn at reading aloud from person's list they have. . (Adjust for a larger group)

This is a great self-esteem booster! If some children still don't know each other very well...they can write such things as: You have a great smile; You're hair always looks nice; Great blue eyes; etc.


Consider having children write letters introducing themselves to the classroom teachers they will have NEXT year. Student letters might include information about themselves, their families, their hobbies and interests, their strengths and weaknesses in school, and so on. That way, teachers can start the new school year knowing a little something about their new students. When school starts, you can find out the children's teachers and deliver the letters. Also doesn't hurt to 'build some bridges' with the school community!

If you will be leaving a position as the "site director"---and a "new director" that does NOT know the children will be taking over--be sure to do this. It will be beneficial to both the children and the new supervisor! To make it easier for the kids, you could also put together a form letter where they just fill in the blanks!


At the end of the year have each child make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone's signatures and notes for a summer keepsake.



GRADUATION SNACK #1 (In recognition of  youth moving to Middle School or High School)
Whip together 8 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup of seedless strawberry or raspberry jam.
Lightly spread the mixture on flour tortilla or Lavash bread, then roll up each sandwich diploma style and tie on a ribbon made of 'Fruit by the Foot'. Makes 4 to 6 sandwiches

1. Place a miniature peanut butter cup--bottom up on a plate.
2. Top with a small dollop of frosting or peanut butter and then press on a chocolate-covered graham cracker.
3. For a tassel, tightly roll up a small square of fruit leather. Cut fringe on one end and attach the other end to the center of the graham cracker with another dab of frosting or peanut butter.

IDEA: THEMES ARE A GREAT WAY TO CULMINATE THE SCHOOL YEAR! (Actually, themes are wonderful ANY time) Example is adapted from Lori Eisner in Florida... Her last week of school is Caribbean/Ocean week. 
Children imagine they are all on a CRUISE SHIP leaving from MIAMI, FLORIDA ON MONDAY and sailing to different islands.

Tuesday:  Arrive in Grand Cayman
Wednesday: Oranjestad, Aruba
Thursday: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
On Friday: Back at school. (You can choose your own islands.)

During the week  limbo, hula, make fruit smoothies, try exotic fruits, read island books, and learn about the ocean.

• Have children wear cruise wear all week; play Caribbean music, bring beach towels and relax! (See 'Water Games' category of KidActivities)


The last day of school is a luau.

• Kids  make/wear a white T-shirt that says, "Aloha ______ 2013" with a hibiscus drawn on the front and the autographs of children on the back.

Have children create visors; girls wear hula skirts; boys wear Bermuda shorts. Create lei's out of beads, foam flowers, and other materials. (See lei craft in the Ocean Themed Arts and Craft section - scroll half way down the page) 

A fun way to end the year! These are just ideas and can be combined any way you wish...


THE FOLLOWING NEED TO BE STARTED AT THE BEGINNING of the school year--in preparation for the end of the year!

Start a special journal for each graduating student.
Throughout the year, teachers, parents, community members, peers, and others can write messages to the students in the journals; you can also include activity photographs. Give the journals to the students at an end of the year family event --or your 'End-of-the Year'  party! Working on these throughout the year, will provide a wonderful keepsake for your graduating youth.
Instead of presenting a journal to the students, have  students record their thoughts in a journal during the school year: Things for which they are thankful. Present the journal to their parents at the end of the year.


IDEA: TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.
1.  Of course you can show this as PART OF A YEAR-END FAMILY EVENT---but it would also be a wonderful "WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION to the new children you will have the next school year.
2.  You could use it to show children and families some of the things you do-how they're done--and what to expect! If you haven't started, get your slides, videos, and activity scrapbooks going now!


DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR: Children can create individual scrapbooks with pictures, favorite sayings, stories and art work saved during the year!



At the end of the school year, have students write themselves a letter. Tell them that no one but they will read this letter so they can say anything they want in it. However, part of that letter might include who their friends are, their current height and weight, favorite movies and music, and special things both good and bad that occurred during the year. Encourage youth to also include a current picture.

On another sheet of paper or the back of that sheet ask students to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year (or sooner). Students seal this letter in an envelope, self-address it, and give it to you. In a year (or sooner) mail (or return in person) the letters  to the students.

The directions are slightly different for eighth-graders. Ask them to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by the end of the next four years. They seal these, self-address them, and give them to you. Mail those letters back to them at the beginning of their senior year. Original directions for this activity say to mail at the end of their Senior year; however mailing them sooner will remind youth of their goals. They still have a year left!


A WONDERFUL IDEA! Current graduating kids might create a handbook full of advice for the next group of “new to the program or school” kids. They could contribute pages to a single handbook, or brainstorm a list of helpful tips and information; this could be used to create mini handbooks. The hand-books could be given out to new families with your "Welcome to our Program (or School)" packet!


  IDEA: Many schools and programs end the school year with an Olympics Type Event. Tons of ideas if you check out the categories of:


Some 'Indoor or Outdoor FIELD DAY' ideas from the above links are:

  • Potato Sack Races (using old pillow cases or sacks purchased from Oriental Trading or similar supplier)
  • Shoe Mix-Up: Have children take off their shoes and mix up the whole pile; have them race to put the shoes back on.
  • Tug of War: Using a huge rope have Kids vs. Kids and then play with Kids vs. Adults (They'll like that one!)
  • Sock Throw: Put a tennis ball into a long sock and have kids throw it to see who can throw it the furthest!



Need: Small paper bag, newspaper, string
1.  Stuff a small paper bag with newspaper.
2.  Tie it off with a 12" long string.
3.  Hold the end of the string. Spin around 3 times. Let go.
4.  Watch how far the hammer travels. Record distances. The longest distance wins.

JAVELIN THROW (Nice idea for inside too!)
Need: Soda straws, waste paper basket, tape
1.  Tape 4 straws together end to end.
2.  Mark a starting line behind which all players must stand.
3.  Place a wastepaper basket 5 feet from the starting line.
4.  Throw straws into the wastebasket.
5.  Give each player 5 turns.
6.  The winner is the child who gets the straws into the basket the most times.

1.  Mark a starting line with tape.
2.  Start with the toes behind the line.
3.  Take one giant step.
4.  Measure the step.
5.  The winner is the one who took the biggest step.

1.  Make a ball out of aluminum foil.
2.  Hold the ball in the palm of one hand.
3.  Instruct children to place that hand next to their ear and then push the shot into the air extending their arms.
4.  They can not move their feet. Record distances; the longest distance wins.

1.  Use a Frisbee to play discus...or...
2.  Tape two heavy foam plates together. Hold the "discus" like a flying disk. Throw away from the waist.
3.  Record distances. The longest distance wins

1.  You can have competitions involving pairs and singles.
2.  You will need a judge to determine if shots are in or out in the event there is a question.
3.  Keep scores for each of the teams competing.
4.  Use the official badminton rules or make your own that are consistent for every team.

1.  Set goals at least 15 feet apart. Goals can be as simple as a rope anchored in the ground.
2.  Play the best two out of three games.
3.  Keep scores for medals and prizes.

• How about the games played in 'Summer Olympic Games' such as: SOFTBALL, FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, HANDBALL, HOCKEY, TENNIS OR VOLLEYBALL? They're all Summer Olympic Games!!!

In preparation of your games you'll need:

  • Stop watches
  • Tape measures
  • Whistles for the game officials
  • Equipment that each game requires



The last week of school can often go into extremely hot days… During that week,
hold a Water Fun themed day!
Have the children bring their swimsuits and towels to school and outside for an hour or two and take part in a variety of "water" stations. (Similar to a day of Field activities).
Stations could include:

  • Beach volleyball: a basketball hoop in a small child's swimming pool
  • Obstacle course: (Go through a sprinkler, over hurdles, through tires, etc.
  • Sprinkler limbo or sprinkler jump-rope: Use the flat hoses with holes in them and jump rope or have a Limbo line
  • Also see Water Game Category

The person who described the Water Station Day—said they also had the village fire truck visit to spray anyone and everyone! (A great idea on its own!!!)
With activities finished---all dried off and changed clothes so that no one went home wet. It was a great cool off and quite a nice change for the last week of school. Idea from John Coomer



 A great idea from the pre-school graduation at Great Lakes Day Care in Royal Oak! Something like this is also a nice idea when graduating from Kindergarten or Grade School... 






This wouldn't be too difficult or expensive to do!

Here is something to remind you of SAC, Grade 1 (or________)...

Some seeds to remind you how much you've grown-
A sucker to remind you of how sweet you are-
A book mark to remind you to always love books-
Money to remind you of how much you're worth - (Play money)
...All in a cup filled with love and a kiss.

Put all items in a paper cup with a Hershey’s Kiss--wrap it up with cellophane and tie with raffia, yarn, or ribbon.



Dear Parents,
I give you back your child ~ the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then he was then.

Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.

Ten years from now if we met on the street, we'll feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.
We have lived, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/back I must. Take care of him, (or her) for he (she) is precious. I'll always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes.
~Author Unknown

You could change the "I's"--to "We's"---
the "my's" to "ours"...
and "me" to "us"...
If it is to be from the entire  staff of a child care program...


IDEA: Program/Class AWARDS
Get creative! Make up some fun and unique awards for your students. Find something unique about EACH CHILD and recognize them for that unique quality. You can purchase award certificates at your local teacher supply store. You may also want to create them yourself on a PC or download a template from the internet.
Make up awards to match candy bars, such as:

•ALMOND JOY AWARD: For the person who is always happy

•BABY RUTH AWARD: For baseball-minded student BIT-O-HONEY AWARD: For someone very sweet
•BUTTERFINGER AWARD: For the person who broke the most things
•DOVE AWARD: For the program/class peacemaker
•GUMMY BEARS AWARD: For a very lovable child, who is always laughing
•JOLLY RANCHER AWARD: For the person always telling jokes
•KIT KAT AWARD: For the student always at the teacher's side
•LAFFY TAFFY AWARD: For someone with a sweet disposition
•LIFESAVERS AWARD: For the person, who is always helping someone in need
•MILKY WAY AWARD: For the group daydreamer
•MR. GOODBAR AWARD: For the student who exhibits the good qualities of friendship
•NESTLE CRUNCH AWARD: An alternative to pencil chewing
•NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: For an outstanding personality
•NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: for the wild and crazy person in class
•SKOR AWARD: For athletes in the class
•SNICKERS AWARD: For having an outstanding sense of humor
•SWEET TARTS AWARD: For a sweet girl/boy
•SYMPHONY AWARD: For anyone musical
•TEDDY GRAHAMS AWARD: For the most huggable
•THREE MUSKETEERS AWARD: For the one always with the group
•WHOPPERS AWARD: For the best storytelling
•ZERO MATH AWARD: For outstanding performance in Math

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On a nice day--take this activity outside!
Use paints, markers or colored chalk and invite children to create a mural illustrating the many wonderful things your group did, saw, and learned this year. It will be a great "advertisement" for next year's program or class. (Don't forget to hang it up when the new school year starts!)

As an extension, you can have your group write about the favorite memories they drew. Be sure to post these in your 'Information Center'; include it in your current year's scrapbook!


IDEA: END OF THE YEAR BULLETIN BOARD AUTOGRAPHS BONUS! The board is up and ready to go during the first week of school!

  • Remove what is currently on your Board such as art projects, etc. LEAVE UP Bulletin Board Backgrounds and Borders.
  • During the week BEFORE the last week of school, ask a talented student artist (or do this yourself!) to block letter the words: "HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!" on your bulletin board background paper.
  • Have several children color in the letters…
  • As the days get closer to the end, have youth autograph and write messages on the bulletin board paper.
  • Leave their NAMES AND MESSAGES up for everyone to appreciate.
  • When you return for the new school year you’ll be starting off with one area already decorated with POSSITIVE MESSAGES!
  • No bulletin board area? Get a long piece of butcher roll-paper and do the same…
  • The kids will like reading what they and others left a couple months back!


IDEA: HIGH FIVES FOR SUMMER! (Good idea for May into June)
Put up plain colored background, a border of your choice, and the title; "High Fives for Summer"!
1. In a color of their choice--have children trace their hand onto a piece of construction paper.
2. Have them cut out their hand shapes.
3. Next give each child a piece of white lined paper (that will fit on the palm of the hand) and have them glue it onto their hand shape.
4. Instruct the kids to write their summer plans on the white paper on the palm.


Put up the caption in big letters on your bulletin board or butcher paper taped to the wall--- and then have children "decorate" it by writing things that they enjoyed doing in your program the past year!


IDEA--FAMOUS LAST WORDS: The Wall of Wisdom!

  • Before kids leave for the summer, invite them to leave behind some words of wisdom.
  • Give each child a construction paper "brick" on which to record a piece of advice that they think will be helpful next year… such as "We don’t jump of the swings"... "Be a good sport in the gym"..."Play for Fun!"..."Remember to feed our fish"..."Try new things"...
  • Tape the bricks on a bulletin board to make a wall.
  • At the beginning of the year, share these "famous last words" with your new group in the fall.
  • It’s also a great way for the children to REVIEW rules and expectations WITHOUT YOU going into lecture mode.
  • Indicate which “bricks” belong to your graduating 5th or 6th graders--their “words of wisdom” often come from a place of much experience!


GOODBYE FRIENDS SONG...To tune of Good Night Ladies

Goodbye friends,
Goodbye friends,
Goodbye friends,
We have to say "so long".

School (or camp, SAC, a grade, etc) is over,
School is over,
School is over.
It's time to end the day.(Or year)

We'll be back soon again
Soon again, soon again..
We'll be back soon again
To start a brand new day! (Or camp, year, etc.)



You may also be interested in Social Event Ideas/Activities for School and Child Care Programs!


Childcare or School Events for Families and Staff!

July 22, 2010 02:58 by Barbara Shelby

  Updated October 2016

Bringing families and classroom/program staff together develops a "Sense of Community…





1. Pizza & Game Night: Pizza can be a variety made by children and staff (Boboli, English muffin and Bagel or purchased by the program. Parents can also sign up to bring a pizza or other goodies! Games can be in the gym (See Gym Games) and/or more quiet Table and Thinking Games.

2. Potluck Dinner

3. Theme Night (Party)

4. Roller Skating Party

5. Ice- Skating at inside rink or outside 

6. Bowling

7. Breakfasts

8. Talent-Variety Show: Open this up to a variety of choices! Showcase children and children with their parents; also include staff members!

9. Drama Production Theater Night - Children perform original or well known skits and plays. 

10. Readers' Theater Performance

11. Carnival or Circus with Centers and Games

12. Parents and Kids Gym Night

13. Family Participation in a Community Service or Earth Day Event


14. Art Show or Art Auction (Below is Silent Auction idea & Spring Art Show)



15. Picnic/Barbecue (See below idea)

16. Create an After-School Experience for  Parent Participation. Use centers and open gym--provide snacks; have parents do what the children do! 

17. Pastries for Parents- Hold this in the evening or during an afternoon at SAC. 

18. Goodies for Grandparents: Any time would be a good time; however, Grandparents Day is the second Sunday in September.  How about doing this in September?

19. Muffins for Mom
For a Mother's Day celebration, Mom (or a favorite person) spends some morning time at the program. Children can give presents and cards they have made. Also offer muffins, fruit, etc. 
20. Mother’s Day Tea

The same as above except in the afternoon with tea and cookies!


21. Father’s Day Happy Hour

Around 4:00 (or later) in the afternoon, fathers have root beer and popcorn with their children and teachers. The children can invite a "Favorite Guy” if Father is not available. During this time the children present gifts and cards that they have made...a great way to get more Dads involved!

22. Ice Cream Social:  Ice-Cream Socials are great family events! Consider adding the below silliness to you festivities:


Ice Cream Eating-No Hands Used!
Give each child a scoop or two of ice-cream in a bowl. Have them sit comfortably at a table ....
The fun is that they keep their hands behind their backs and eat the ice-cream with only their mouths! It's NOT a speed eating contest--just silly fun!

Be sure to Video Tape and Take Pictures!
      • Have Dads participate

'I Scream For Ice-Cream'!  Pair this up with your ice-cream social.
Teach the kids:
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
Divide the group into teams (number of teams depends on number of youth)
   • Which team can say it the loudest?
   • Have a third party judge...



Two years ago we had a Silent Art Auction. Invitations went out well in advance to everyone the children knew...For more than a month children were involved in all types of art projects: drawing, paint, fiber, batik, water color, ink,  clay and jewelry making.


We matted the children’s  art and displayed it from 5:00 until 7:30.

• We indicated the opening bids in dollar amount. Families wrote down their offers and put it in a slotted box next to the items.

 • Soft music played; we had water, cider, cheese and crackers. A few parents also brought cookies (Lots of visiting, and chatting! too!)

 • Make sure the children are there to get their family to bid on their things! IT WAS FUN AND THE CHILDREN HAVE ASKED WHEN WE CAN DO IT AGAIN--but we'll wait a couple more years to repeat it. Cassie in Michigan



A very large program in Montclair, N.J. (38 staff and 225 children attend daily) offers a PAJAMA CLUB!

On Friday nights, staff members operate a pajama club for all students and their siblings, 3 years of age and older. The pajama club offers parents a night out from 7:00 pm–10:00 pm -- twice a month for a charge of $12 per child, paid in advance.

Children are encouraged to come dressed in their pajamas for stories, art, and music. Every month, the club “travels” to a different country and explores it together. Local restaurants have begun to offer discounts for families whose children participate in the club. (Parents dine out while children are at the club!)




One of the ways Tasha in California has connected with parents is to "give them a night out" a few times a year! I imagine parents love her for it! Where can you go out and pay child-care of $10.00 for four hours? 

From Tasha ... I have had Parents' Nights Out, in which we charge $10.00 from 6 pm -10 pm. For one ‘Night Out” Example: Instead of having a party for Halloween during our program time, I had a Halloween Party during a 'PARENT'S NIGHT OUT'. 55 out of 100 students attended and about another 10-15 students from the school came (they paid the 10.00 fee). I then used the money to pay for extra things on site for parties, etc. -- A WIN WIN!

Tasha additionally wrote: We also have a 'Parent's Night Out' during other times of the year --such as a 'Sweetheart’s Ball' to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This gave parents a chance to go out for the special day. There was lots of participation because my kids loved dancing.


Family Picnics
We invite families to come to a local park and ask for volunteers to bring different items. (Plates, utensils, napkins, desserts, hot dogs, buns, chips, drinks, etc) We post a sign up sheet for all to see... and Set up centers, play games, music, eat, dance, have fun!!!


Community Get Together
Something we do is choose a place that will donate a percentage of all the proceeds for a night (for us it's 15%) to our organization.
All the center families get together; enjoy some pizza, laughs and have conversation! It's great for moral and also a great way to bring everyone together to support the center/program!




As suggested by Roberta Newman in” Building Relationships With Parents and Families in School-Age Programs, 2nd Ed., have a White Elephant Auction Night - Each family contributes a usable item (or a mystery object) that they no longer want. One person serves as a "goofy" auctioneer and others bid on the treasures until all are sold. Proceeds can go to purchase an item for the program.




BRAG NIGHTS (This child care center has regular Parent Events)
 From Shutterbug1410
I think that Parent-Teacher meetings are often hard for parents to attend or they just don't "feel like it"---so I came up with the idea to combine the meetings with a "Brag Night". I use these as a VITAL key in my program.

For the first 20 minutes we watch a VIDEO PRESENTATION of the kids playing and at centers, activities, games, etc. from the past month as well as SHOWING OFF photos, artwork and the projects we have been working on.

Next, we TALK about what the THEME UNIT will be for the next few weeks/ month, etc. and talk about ways parents can GET INVOLVED --as well as opportunities to go on field trips, etc. that they can take advantage of...

During this time we also set up a "PROJECT TABLE" for the children to enjoy while we go over normal things such as center policies, etc.

We also enjoy REFRESHMENTS together! We serve coffee, etc. but I always include a few things that the kids have on a regular basis, such as fun snacks that go with their theme, etc. This gives the parents a chance to see what we eat.

It always turns out well and the parents love seeing their child in their environment as well as with their friends... and they love getting together with other parents and their teacher!




help connect your program and staff memebers to the families you serve. Make them as interesting, upbeat and complete as possible. Click here  for Tips, Ideas, and Articles to include in your News!



SPECIAL TIME OF THE YEAR IDEAS for Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer... 


SEPTEMBER-- GOODIES FOR GRANDPARENTS: Any time would be a good time; however, Grandparents Day is the second Sunday in September.  How about doing this in September?


SEPTEMBER--BEGINNING OF THE YEAR POWER POINT SLIDE SHOW... The first couple weeks of school, snap photos of students in all ACTIVITY AREAS—such as working and playing with other kids, team building activities, outside and gym play, etc. Include this with the slide show. Make sure you get ALL children in photographs! The presentation can be included with a question and answer session… Light refreshments- such as cookies and punch- are always a nice touch. This idea is from the Back to School Category. See other ideas ...


OCTOBER--'LIGHTS ON AFTER SCHOOL--- In 2014 it is October 23---There are also many ideas in the Lights' category that will work for Family Social Events. Click here



Weeks ahead Post and Hand-out a Save-the date. Invite parents to attend and have them sign up to bring in foods traditional to Thanksgiving.Serve: Turkey, sweet potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, pies, fruits, etc.



Estimate the amounts you will need—and put out a sign-up sheet with how much you’ll need. Example-
1. __________________
2. __________________
3. __________________ 

Parents then sign up for their choice. Be sure to tell them to bring their contribution ready to go and serve! The program can provide juice, water, sturdy plates, napkins and utensils.

***Think about this! Time is short for us all--however-- there are many excellent food stores that make good turkey breasts, chicken pieces, potatoes, fruit, etc. Inform families their contribution does not need to be home-made!

Craft Activity: For the Feast, make themed place-mats and decorations the weeks before... See Thanksgiving pages




Invite families to see how children spend their time!


What is needed?
   • Invitations made by the kids or computer
   • Materials to make snowflakes;
   • Balloons/helium; ribbon
   • Hot cocoa/warm cider, cookies and treats;
   • Special friends and family.

Begin to prepare for “Winterfestwhen you return to school after the Holiday break. Early February would be a good time to hold it.
Make invitations NOW. Invite families and VIP's to join for an evening of fun, music, and treats to eat.


→ Start the event after dinner time but provide goodies that parents can sign up to bring.


  • If your budget is low—you can also include items such as hot cups, napkins and utensils.
  • You can provide the cocoa and/or warm cider punch and water. 

Set up “centers” for the event. Each group or team of children with an adult facilitator can choose what they want to do.

  • One group may want to invent winter theme carnival games for guests to enjoy.
  • One group may decide on an easy craft project or two and have everything prepared for their guests to create the projects with them.
  • One group can facilitate gym games.
  • If your group is large group, you may need another center. 
  • Another idea is to have an area with “quick” table games or some of the circle games you play. How many centers are set up depend on the size of your program.
  • Guests rotate through the centers.




After an hour of enjoying individual activities in centers, gather in a large area for a sing along led by the children—this is also goodie time!




  • Maybe hot cocoa and warm cider punch? Have a yummy treat table which can be supplied by a previous sign-up sheet with family donations. Be sure to instruct families to have all snacks and treats ready to serve and eat.

Each team can make their own decorations for each center, but have all children decorate the main gathering room.

  • Children can make a variety of snowflakes from tissue paper, doilies or cut-outs.
  • The day of the event fill balloons with helium. Hang some of the snowflakes and balloons alone and float some balloons attaching snowflakes to them with different lengths of ribbon. If the ceiling is not too high, let these go in the room and they can float to the ceiling. A nice ideas is to hold your sing along under souvenir balloons/snowflakes with children's name on them!


Individual songs can simply be led by the children or different Teams. You can sing to Cd’s, a piano or keyboard. Maybe the music teacher can join the celebration and assist?!!! Just have fun!



BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN FEBRUARY--Share it with your families! (This would also be a fantastic idea for May! May is "Inventors Month"!)

InventionsIn celebration of this month--challenge the children to come up with unique and useful inventions!

1. Open up your recycled supply area and provide materials such as- pieces of wood, used CD's, milk containers, straws, tape, pipe cleaners, paper clips, yarn, string, paper, glue, poster paint, markers, crayons, elastic, fabric scraps, construction paper, pom-poms, rubber bands and safety pins.
2. Children can work individually or in small groups; Give them plenty of time to brainstorm ideas.
Challenge children to come up with unique,  creative, and useful items.
3. The kids may need more than one day to complete their projects; however, when complete- share the inventions with the group. 

• What is it?
• What does it do?
• What materials are used to make it?

5. SHARE IT...This is an activity that takes time and thought. Honor the children's work by inviting parents and visitors to view the display. A written description of each "invention" would also be a good idea.

This would be a nice "sharing with families time"; it could be held through-out the program afternoon or as social time after the program ends. Add punch and cookies and have a social event...

If awards are given out, be sure that each child or group recieves one--the most unique, smallest, largest, useful, fun, amusing, original, helpful, practical, handy, amusing, entertaining, most materials used, least materials used, colorful, heaviest, lightest, etc. (Look up synonyms for descriptive words)



MARCH--How about a St. Patrick's Party with a GREEN ICE-CREAM BAR? Consider making it an ICE-CREAM SOCIAL FAMILY EVENT...


  • Pistachio and/or Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream; lime sherbet 
  • Green M&M's 
  • Green Gummy Worms 
  • Green Sprinkles 
  • Green Shamrock Cookies 
  • Green Maraschino Cherries 
  • Chocolate Syrup 
  • Whipped Cream


Set up the ingredients in bowls on a buffet table for the families to create their own sundaes. YUMMY! Play some of the fun St. Paddy games from this site!




This will need to be starts weeks before Earth Day which is April 22… Display photography, sculpture, drawings, pastels, etc., as well as crafts, toys, and nature projects made by the children. FOCUS EVERYTING ON THE ENVIRONMENT or MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS.


    • Set up your "Exhibit" and Hold a FAMILY EVENT after school. You can also invite school classrooms to walk through and view.

    • Serve refreshments/snacks with an Earth theme...Ideas for snacks are in the Earth Day-Every Day Category.



Families enjoy their children's art as well as their children's titles and writings. Consider a springtime sidewalk art show to share children's explorations with art and writing.

Involve children in mounting and displaying the artwork on the sidewalk or along a hallway.

Put up a clothesline and help children hang their mounted works with colorful clothespins. Try attaching children's names to the clothespins for easy recognition. Ask children to draw "invitation cards" sent home to families with the date and time of the event.

Serve some easy refreshments...
Make a video of the event as families enjoy the art and writing...




For a Mother's Day celebration, Mom (or a favorite person) spends some morning time at the program/school/classroom. Children can give presents and cards they have made. Also offer muffins, fruit, etc. 

The same as above except in the afternoon with tea and cookies!


MAY IS INVENTORS MONTH...Also check out the Inventions Idea above in February's Black History Month! May is Inventors Month! The inventions activity for a Parents Event would be awesome!





Around 4:00 (or later) in the afternoon, fathers have root beer and popcorn with their children and teachers. The children can invite a "Favorite Guy” if Father is not available. During this time the children present gifts and cards that they have made...a great way to get more Dads involved!


I used to have fun with the following idea at our Father's Day/END OF THE YEAR PARTY EVENTS. (Sorry, I don't remember where I first saw this--but it's fun! Cassi in Michigan) This would also be fun at a large family get together.

Get together a few families and play the FATHER'S DAY/CHILD GAME. Divide into four father/child teams. Ask the fathers to leave the room while the children sit in chairs. Ask the same four or five questions to each child about their fathers. Bring in the fathers and ask them the same questions. Will the father and child have the same answers? Switch places and see how well the father's know the children. Award a red rose to the winning father/child team.

Question Ideas: Favorite color, movie, candy bar, color of toothbrush, memorable moment with you, best friend, hobby, talent, food, animal, cartoon, pizza topping, ice cream topping, restaurant. Most embarrassing moment. Favorite holiday.




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