• Keep it simple: Earlier this month, families at Sunrise Elementary in Bismarck, N.D. attended the third annual Winterfest, an event put on by the PTO to bring families together. Kids and parents came with their sleds and skates and spent a nice (and unseasonably warm) afternoon together. The school is just four years old and officials say this event is a great community builder that doesn’t cost parents a thing and gives them a chance to get to know each other.

  • The point is to try it: The PTO at Coxsackie (N.Y.) Elementary runs a Tasting Tuesday event once a month for kids to try healthy foods at lunch. The most recent event introduced the students to homemade kale chips. The PTO reported that the kids had mixed opinion on the kale, but what’s noteworthy is that the group makes this event fun and interesting enough that kids line up to try something new.  (The group won the Judges’ Choice award in our 2012 Parent Group of the Year search for this healthy lifestyle program.)

  • Are you tough enough? The PTO at Buckhannon (W. Va.) Academy Elementary is planning a Polar Plunge next month to raise funds for new playground equipment. Community members can pay a fee ($20 for adults, $15 for kids) to go into the chilly Buckhannon River. Organizers say a toe-only dip will count. The event will include music, concessions, and a costume contest. Perhaps the best part of this story is a quote from school officials: “We know it’s cold, but our playground is old.’’