I had an amazing bilingual PK teacher come to me last year and ask if we could do a family engagement activity for dia de los ninos (day of the children), and I told her sure, and then she ran with it. The plan was to have a family picnic day where parents joined their child outside for lunch.
I wanted the parents to visit the classrooms, so I added the bonus of allowing our guests to come read to the class.
We worked with our cafeteria, and they made sack lunches that day with sandwiches, chips, fruit, and milk for easy pick up and clean up.
We advertised it for families to join the lunch time fun, and made a Google doc to keep a headcount of how many extra sack lunches needed to be made.
Logistically, I needed to think about where and how we would make this a great time for our kids and families. We decided to have the picnic area behind our playground area. We asked maintenance to be sure to mow and treat for ants. I rented 8 pop up canopy tents for shade purposes. I loved this part because the company set the tents up, and when we finished, they came back and picked them up. No hassel at all. I also bought a bunch of plastic tablecloths for picnic “blankets” in case families forgot to bring one of their own. Let me say that I did not have enough tents, nor did I have enough “blankets” for guests to sit on. None the less, we made due and used some of our trees for shade. Even with a headcount in the Google doc, we never anticipated that many people would attend. You see, some families actually brought true picnic baskets with their own food and goodies. It was wonderful!
The day came, and boy oh boy was it a success!! We had 179 guests sign in our office! There were smiles every where! We also had 12 parents go into classrooms to read aloud a story after lunch.
This year I decided to purchase ten tents of our own. We certainly could use the tents at other events like field day. Well, we found out that our tents would not be delivered in time. In a panic, I called on our staff and PTA to allow us to borrow their tent if they had one to lend. We asked, and they answered the call in one day with eleven tents. Maintenance pitched in and set up the canopy tents the morning of the event.
As an added bonus this year, I had Kona Ice (snow cones) show up. Kona Ice is a not only a great treat, but a portion of the sales comes back to the PTA for our school. It was a great big hit! I could not begin to tell you how many cups of shaved ice our fellow made, but it made my hands tired just watching him for two hours straight.
I really wanted to see the teachers involved with their classes, especially if some of the students did not have family attend. I told the teachers if they sat and ate lunch with their class, then they could wear jeans on Monday. We almost had 100% of the teachers stay with their class! For me, it’s about building relationships with the kids and families. I know we have teachers that feel the same.
So, how many guests did we have this year? Our office sign in sheet was 220! I know we had more than this attend because some of the sign ins only had a mom sign in for both parents not to mention they brought siblings with them…like entire families of 8 or so! It was amazing! We also had parents walking up to the playground from the back with out going through the front office. If I had to guess, I would say we had about 350 extra guests altogether join our family picnic!
We had beautiful weather, yummy lunch, great families, and lasting memories with gigantic smiles on faces. What more can you ask for? It was a great “Day of the Children!”