Back to School Night 2015!
It’s no secret-Back to School Night and Open House are my two favorite nights of the school year. I love meeting the parents, talking about all the exciting plans we have for the year… and throwing a party!
Our Back to School Night hits us exactly one week after school starts-that is not a lot of time to get everything ready, especially when you’ve just spent weeks getting your room ready. This summer I wised up and prepared as much as I could before the Back to School crush. My preparations are bundled in this little beauty here. All labels, handbooks, signs, etc. that are featured in the pictures below are available in my Back to School Night Bundle!
I’m super lucky to have a lobby area outside of my classroom. This lobby was essentially an old desk and a few chairs when I got my room, so I asked the principal if I could bring in some Craigslist finds to spruce it up. She did one better and found some money for a conference table, some whiteboards and a couch. The table came in very handy for some parental refreshments!
I put sign-in sheets on clipboards and pre-printed name tags for parents to use. I did a combination of checking our emergency cards for names, and asking students if they had step-parents/grandparents that might not be listed. These are incredibly helpful when parents come up to you after the presentation and you have no idea who their child is!
Target had an amazing vintage-like vibe to their dollar section this summer, so I decided to use that for my Back to School Night theme. I started by making chocolate covered pretzels that looked like pencils. My teacher bestie, Stef P., made these super cute chocolate covered apple pretzels, and I grabbed a bag of strawberry salt water taffy off Amazon to simulate pink erasers.
These super cute notebook paper bags were 8/$1 at Target-I spent all summer hunting for enough packages. I then baked several pans of brownies, wrapped them in cellophane bags and slipped them in the bags for parents to munch on. With our presentations scheduled from 6:30-7:30, I feel we need to feed the parents! Last year I had a basket of chips out and the parents loved those as well.
Customized water bottles are a project that I’ll be working on weeks in advance next year. You can simply replace the label, tie on the lemonade packets and stick them in a box for when you need them!
Sunflowers and an apothecary jar of apples make the perfect centerpieces! I found huge bags of beautiful Red Delicious apples at Costco for $6, and I can munch on them for the next week or two-bonus! The straws were also a Target Dollar Spot find.
I found the idea of a Parent Wish Jar on TeachersPayTeachers last year, but I made my own label/wish cards to match my handout styles this year. I love reading what parents wish and hope for their kiddos this year.
Our giant whiteboards in the lobby are handy for hanging up sign-up sheets. One side of the large whiteboard has all our field trips for the year-parents can sign up to be chaperones in advance in case they need to take time off work. I also have cards available for parents to write down the events/dates they sign up for so they can add them to their calendars when they get home. The backgrounds on my sign-up sheets are laminated scrapbook paper so I can re-use them each year. (My little Henry added his own green Expo marker art moments before this picture was taken… 😉 )
I also have sign-ups for Back to School parent conferences. Our official parent teacher conferences are in November, but I find that is often too long to wait with some of my kiddos. I like to build a relationship with parents immediately, and last year I only had a handful of parents not sign up for a conference. I offer these the week after BtSN. I also have a whiteboard filled with classroom event sign-ups (parties, plays, major art projects. etc.), but I didn’t get a picture of that one.
Inside the classroom, each students’ desk is ready to greet their parents.
Students write their parents a letter, and parents have some stationary to write back to their kiddos. I also have a folder for each household-if a student has two households, they will have two folders. One of my kiddos had three folders, because a grandparent was heavily involved. I put nametags on all the folders so I can exactly which ones have been taken and which ones are left at the end of the night. I know then that I need to contact any parent who has not taken a folder. The nametags I use on the folders are the same ones I have available by my sign-in sheets-I just print them twice!
I also have a pen for taking notes and the PTA fundraising packet.
Inside each folder, I’ve set it up like our homework folder. The left side is the ‘bring back’ side with all the forms they need to fill out and return. The right side is the ‘Give to Parents’ side with everything they need to keep. The forms side include my Forms to Fill Out packet, our classroom fundraising information, our birthday book form, book order forms and our PTA membership packet. The keep at home side includes our handbook, a calendar filled out with every classroom event/PTA event/school event/math test/field trip/etc, a username/password magnet and a little ruler bag from Target filled with a bookmark and a contact information magnet.
Lastly, I have apples for the parents. I’ve done this in the past and tried to attach the tags with a straight pin-what a bad idea! The tags ripped off and then we had rogue straight pins in the apples. This year, I put them in cellophane bags and tied the tags on with red baker’s twine-it worked perfectly!!
Every year, I do a variation of the Giving Tree-a place for parents to grab items they might want to donate to the classroom. This year I had labels, bunny food, shaving cream, mint gum, apple cinnamon spray, bleach wipes, Expo markers and zip lock bags. And then of course I forgot to point it out to parents. Doh!
The last touch was flowers and an apothecary jar of rulers on our coffee table. I look forward to adding to this evening each year! One of my ideas was to make a table runner for the outside conference table that looked like a giant ruler-the fabric is still in my car, lol. I must admit-this is the first time I’ve been at a school site for longer than 2 years, and the ability to build on what I’ve started is amazing.
If you’re inspired to use any of these ideas for your Back to School Night, you can find everything in my bundle here. If you have any suggestions for additions to the bundle, please let me know! Let’s invite our new group of parents into our rooms this year with a par-tay! 😉
I’m hooking up with Fourth Grade Frolics’ Made It Monday-check out all the great ideas here!