Dodgeball or Volleyball Tournament
Coordinate and supervise an after-school dodgeball or volleyball tournament. Have students sign up in teams (or assign teams). The top student team can face off against a team of teachers for the big finale. Sell basic concessions, invite parents to watch, and award prizes for highest score, most spirit, and best uniforms.
Middle schoolers love any opportunity to best their teachers in a competition. A dodgeball tournament or basketball game can be a crowd-pleaser (see above). Let teachers show a different side of themselves by participating in your talent show. Or run a teacher trivia game, where students are asked questions about teachers and win various small prizes for guessing correctly.
Fun runs and jogathons have long been popular fundraisers for parent groups, and in recent years, theme runs (color run, costume run, glow run) have picked up steam. You’ll optimize the fun for middle schoolers by giving thought to the timing (zombies at Halloween, colors to celebrate the end of the year) as well as adding an element of competition.
Video Game Tournament or Showcase
Take a cue from the Lincoln Elementary PTA in Lakewood, Ohio, which hosted Lincoln MINES, an event with interactive workshops on a variety of Minecraft, online gaming, coding, and other tech topics. Or, with borrowed games and consoles, organize an event where students can play single- or multiplayer games and spend time discussing gaming strategies and preferences.
Add a bit of flair to any event involving middle schoolers by adapting this idea from the New Albany (Ohio) Middle School PTO: On the first day of school, organizers created a red carpet entrance where parents could snap pictures of their kids. The PTO also set up a “selfie station” that students could visit the whole week. Create your station with a simple backdrop and optional photo props.
There’s still a place for middle school dances. But you’ll up your chances for success at this level by keeping things simple, so avoid themes in favor of a DJ, concessions, and a few age-appropriate games or an area for students to play on their own tablets or smartphones.