Fitness & Fun

Two weeks before Get FITT (Families in Training Together) night, sponsored by the Southwest Elementary PTO in Howell, Mich., children received a scorecard with 16 healthy activities to do at home. Students who completed at least 12 activities or participated in four or more stations that evening—such as yoga, kickboxing, and Latin dancing—were entered into a raffle for prizes.

It’s Just a Stinkin’ Game!
In Smyrna, Tenn., Cedar Grove Elementary’s family game night features an activity called Sock Wars. PTO members collected as many socks as they could, knotted each one into a ball, and laid them out in the middle of the gym. Parents, teachers, and kids used the balled-up socks for a fun variation on dodge ball.

Camp Heritage
Because the school year at Heritage K-8 Charter School in Escondido, Calif., ends three weeks before other schools in the city, no summer camps have started yet. So the Parent Advisory Board decided to run its own, offering classes in theater arts, sports, arts and crafts, professional jump rope instruction, and science experiments.

Snack and Learn

To get 4th grade parents involved in language arts assessment testing, leaders of the Poplar Citizenship Academy PTO in Buffalo, N.Y., invited them to attend a workshop at school with their children. Each parent-and-child pair was given the same section of the test to work on; when they were done, students were given a snack before heading back to class. Parents stayed behind for a wrap-up and pizza.

Carnival Capers

Blades of Glory
At the countywide winter carnival, Schenectady (N.Y.) PTO Council volunteers from 10 schools handed out free ice skates and helped run the chili contest.

Reduce, Reuse, Record
The Tariffville (Conn.) Elementary PTO arranged for the local access TV station to be at the spring carnival. For 25 cents, students could tape an environmental message that would be aired on television.

Too Small for Her Britches
A teacher wore oversize pants with a Hula-Hoop waist for the St. Charles School PTO carnival in Genoa, Wis. Participants were given balls and had to try tossing as many in her pants as possible.

Outta This World
The “Science Fact/Science Fiction” night at Haskell Elementary in Granada Hills, Calif., featured a sci-fi costume contest and a booth to make “space helmets” out of aluminum foil and cardboard.

The Wheel Deal
To get kids excited about the PTO’s fall festival, the principal of Colorado Elementary in Muscatine, Iowa, rides into each classroom on a bicycle. The bike is then raffled off at the event.

Fair Aficionados
More than 400 volunteers assist with the PTO’s spring fair at Valley Forge Elementary in Wayne, Pa. Among them is an engineer who, as “parking coordinator,” photographs and maps the parking areas for maximum efficiency. His volunteer crew even parks guests’ cars when it rains.

Let’s Get Real, Kids!

To update its popular 8th grade career day, Rosemont Ridge Middle School PTO in West Linn., Ore., added a “real life” fair to teach kids budgeting skills. After classes on salaries and banking, students collect information about the costs of housing, transportation, utilities, and more, then create a budget based on their selected career and lifestyle choices.

Fundraising Incentives

Walking To Win
To encourage participation in its annual walkathon, the Northfield Elementary PTO?in Murfreesboro, Tenn., rewards classrooms that raise a specified dollar amount—and the kids get to choose the prize. Past selections have included pajama day, movie day, and a cookout.

One for the Books
For every dollar families donated to the blizzard-themed winter book fair sponsored by the Martin Road Elementary PTO in Lackawanna, N.Y., a mitten cutout with their name was displayed outside the school library.

Give Them a Pass!
Town Center Elementary PTO in Coppell, Texas, offers a $200 “season pass.” It covers school supplies, a yearbook and school directory, tickets to the fall picnic, a field day T-shirt, membership dues, and a tax-deductible donation to the school. Passes for additional children are $100 each.

Unlimited Involvement

For 20 years, visitors have been coming to Williamsville, N.Y., for Harris Hill Elementary PTO’s communitywide garage sale. If the group described the event by the numbers, it might go something like this:

Items tagged at this year’s community garage sale: 19,000
Volunteers who helped collect, sort, and sell “stuff”: 250
Familes that cleaned out their basements and attics: 180
The feeling of knowing the school profited $4,000: Priceless

Lighting Up the Community

Harlan County Christian School PTO in Putney, Ky., arranged a drive-through Christmas lights display for the month of December. Sponsorships were sold to area businesses and individuals to create their own displays; school families signed up to supervise the impromptu bonfires and distribute hot chocolate.

Teacher Appreciation

Daily Affirmations
Throughout appreciation week, teachers, staff members, and administrators at West Liberty-Salem Schools in Ohio got a small gift and note in their mailboxes each day from the PTO. Little bags of coffee said “Thanks a latte for all you do!” The custodians’ basket of treats included animal crackers that stated “This place would be a zoo without you.”

Send Them Packing
To supplement the appreciation luncheon for teachers at Marblehead (Mass.) Community Charter Public School, PTO parents arranged a special prize drawing. Students purchased raffle tickets on behalf of staff members; the winning ticket got the teacher a weekend at a vacation home, donated by one of the school’s families.

Cashing In at Breakfast
Blue Lakes Elementary staff members were welcomed back to the Miami school with more than just a great meal. After PTA leaders shared their goals for the year, they gave each teacher and paraprofessional a $50 Target gift card. Also introduced at the breakfast was a new PTA grant program to help the teachers enhance classroom instruction.

Ads With Dads

The first-ever father-daughter dance at Una Elementary in Nashville, Tenn., was visibly endorsed by the dads. Every week for a month, a dad-and-daughter pair made a commercial for morning announcements at the school. In the end, more than 200 families attended the PTO event.

Oscar-Worthy Auction Night

The PTL at St. Andrews Lutheran School in Park Ridge, Ill., held an Academy Awards-themed dinner dance and auction with red carpet and framed movie posters. They even obtained an authentic Oscar from the official manufacturer. Each couple held the statuette and posed for a picture; framed photos were ready to take home at the end of the evening.

A Warm Welcome

Movie Stars
The Brook Park Elementary Council in LaGrange Park, Ill., revamped its annual back-to-school event by incorporating a High School Musical theme. T-shirts based on the Disney movie were purchased to identify leaders, and parents were invited to an “open casting call” to volunteer for committees.

Cool Customers
PTA leaders at East Salem (Va.) Elementary wanted to keep their cool at the school’s welcome party. So rather than purchasing, storing, and dishing out hundreds of scoops themselves, they arranged for an ice-cream truck to serve cold treats to students and parents.

Paper Trail

To get permission slips signed and sent back to school on schedule, Prairie Hill Elementary PSA in South Beloit, Ill., has a successful strategy. Signed slips are used for a prize drawing; the winning students select prizes such as free ice cream, a small toy, water bottles, or spiritwear, all donated by local businesses.

In Pursuit of Art

Cedar Hill Elementary PTO’s spaghetti supper included an art scavenger hunt. Student artwork was hung throughout the Jefferson City, Mo., school. Parents and children followed clues prepared by the art teacher to find each piece.

Anniversary by Airmail

When Gorrell Elementary in Massillon, Ohio, turned 50 years old, the PTO arranged a balloon launch party to celebrate. Volunteers filled almost 400 balloons; students tied letters to the strings, then had the pleasure of letting the balloons go. Two letters were returned from Ohio and Pennsylvania.