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9 Special Event Ideas To Spice Up Your Year

Special Events at School

From old favorites like Read Across America Day to new traditions (National Pi Day on March 14, maybe?), these noteworthy dates make learning fun.

by Patti Ghezzi


With help from parent groups, schools have been celebrating Read Across America Day since the 1970s, serving green eggs and ham, dressing up as the Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Seuss characters, and turning March 2—Dr. Seuss' birthday—into a party for all children's books.

What about math? As an academic subject as important as reading, math surely felt left out. Now, you can add National Pi Day to your calendar on March 14. And making time for special observances like National Teacher Day and TV Turnoff Week can energize your volunteers and inspire students.

Such events don't need to take up a lot of time or money. Many resources are available free online. For parents who excel at fundraising, an event for National Poetry Month could be a refreshing change. As a way to use the overflow of volunteers willing to staff the holiday shop, a chance to celebrate Arts in Education Day might be a welcome compromise.

Special observances are about taking time to get everyone on board for a single worthy cause. Whether you're honoring the teachers who work hard to help the children learn or pausing to appreciate reaching 100 days of school (and wonder where the time went), an observance can be a fun, unifying event for your parent group and your school. Here is a sampling of special days your parent group can use to connect with your school community. For a more complete listing of events, check out the annual parent group planning calendar.

100th Day of School

What it is: A chance to party just because you've reached 100 days of school—or to cheer the fact that the number of instructional days is more than half done!

When it is: Usually January or February, depending on when your district starts school

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. Play estimating games using 100 marbles, jelly beans, or raisins. (For example, guess how much 100 marbles weigh.)
  2. During PE, help the teacher lead kids in activities such as jumping rope or doing jumping jacks 100 times.
  3. Host a campout in the classroom where students bring their sleeping bags to school. With the overhead lights off and flashlights on, parents and kids read, read, read with a goal of reaching 100 books.

How they did it: Several schools have celebrated the occasion with a special treat: gummy fish and blueberry-flavored Jell-O in a thoroughly cleaned fish tank. They let the gelatin partially set, then along with students counted out a hundred gummy fish and placed them in the tank. When the gelatin fully set, students had an aquarium. Later, they enjoyed eating their way through the tank.

12 Ways To Mark the 100th Day of School

Read Across America Day

What it is: A party in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday as well as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of reading.

When it is: March 2

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. Organize a book drive for the school's library or the library of a school that doesn't have as many books.
  2. Hold a parade of book characters, with parents, teachers, and students dressed up as their favorites.
  3. Make green eggs for students and read Green Eggs and Ham while they eat.

How they did it: At Salladasburg Elementary in Jersey Shore, Pa., parents and kids spread out blankets in the school cafeteria and read together during a Family Reading Night.

National Pi Day

What it is: A celebration of math.

When it is: March 14

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. Mark National Pi Minute at 1:59 p.m. on this day, representing the first few digits of pi (3.14159).
  2. Make pies for students to enjoy while using the baked treats to demonstrate fractions and other math concepts.
  3. Lead math games pitting students against parents.

How they did it: At Bigelow Middle School in Newton, Mass., parents, students, and faculty formed a Pi Day band that played "American Pi." Several students recited 100 digits of pi, with some winning a chance to throw a pie in a teacher's face. Everyone got a serving of apple pie a la mode at lunch.

Arts in Education Day

What it is: A chance to give arts education, which sometimes gets lost amid the traditional academic subjects, its turn on center stage.

When it is: Observances vary from state to state but are usually held in March, April, or May

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. Invite a local dance troupe, theater group, potter, or weaver to do a workshop.
  2. Turn the media center into an exhibition of student artwork.
  3. Work with teachers to plan and execute lessons that weave art into math, science, social studies, and reading.

How they did it: At Dorothy Fox Elementary in Camas, Wash., the PTA and local education foundation pay for weeklong artist residencies. Students have tried traditional Japanese drumming and learned dance moves from an acrobatics troupe.

National Poetry Month

What it is: A time to share poetry with students and encourage them to write their own poems.

When it is: April

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. Invite parents to speak to students about their favorite poems or to share poems they have written themselves.
  2. Sponsor a poetry slam, where students write on the spot using prompts and take turns reading what they wrote.
  3. Arrange for a published poet to work with students to create their own books of poetry.

How they did it: At George Watts Montessori Magnet School in Durham, N.C., students, parents, teachers, and staff read poems over the school public address system during a three-week period.

Teacher Appreciation Week

What it is: A week honoring those who devote their passion and skills to educating children. National Teacher Day is usually celebrated the Tuesday of this week.

When it is: First full week in May

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. Turn the teacher break room into a spa, offering massages, pedicures, and facials by local professionals.
  2. Stock the break room with fresh fruit, flowers, candy, and other treats.
  3. Sponsor an appreciation breakfast or luncheon and recruit students to read letters or poems to their teachers.

How they did it: At Muraski Elementary in Strongsville, Ohio, the PTA organized a full week of appreciation events for teachers and staff. Students and parents came to the school on Sunday and created sidewalk art to greet staff members upon arrival Monday morning. Later in the week, teachers were treated to chair massages, free car washes, and bouquets of flowers brought by students.

Screen-Free Week

What it is: A chance to promote active lifestyles and break away from the TV so families can spend more time together.

When it is: Early May; date varies by year

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. Hold a family night with board games or other screen-free activities.
  2. Award small prizes to kids who abstain from TV viewing for the full week.
  3. Sponsor fitness activities, such as a danceathon or jazzercise in the gym, to steer kids away from the couch potato lifestyle.

How they did it: At Memorial Elementary in Valparaiso, Ind., students signed pledges not to watch TV for a week and received prizes from the PTO. The principal threw a TV off the roof of the school.

International Day of Peace

What it is: Established in 1981 by the United Nations, it's a chance for everyone to create practical acts of peace on the same day.

When it is: Sept. 21

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. For little ones, lead activities such as role-playing and puppet shows that promote empathy, good manners, and peaceful resolution of disputes.
  2. With older kids, celebrate notable peacemakers past and present, such as Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. Work with students to create peace-theme artwork, such as pinwheels that may be displayed on the school lawn or origami cranes that may be hung from trees.

How they did it: At Children's Garden Montessori School in Roeland Park, Kan., students, parents, and teachers participated in a worldwide singalong for peace.

National Family Literacy Day

What it is: An opportunity to reach out to adults who need help reading and writing and to encourage lifelong learning.

When it is: Nov. 1

Three ways to celebrate:

  1. Sponsor a family literacy night with games for parents and children as well as a fair featuring local adult literacy programs.
  2. Hold an event in the media center where children read to their parents.
  3. Work with students to write original stories they can read at home with their parents. For younger students, parent volunteers can serve as secretaries, taking dictation as children recite their stories.

How they did it: At Gegan Elementary in Menasha, Wis., students read to a therapy dog and made a podcast while parents learned reading strategies at the PTO's Family Literacy Night.

Originally posted in 2010 and updated regularly.


# a 2013-02-08 18:04
this might come in handy

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