Monday, May 21, 2012

Year End 4th Grade Fiesta

I first really saw the value of opening my home and life to my students and their families when I was teaching in a bush village in Alaska.  When I taught there, kids would stop over almost daily to drink kool-aid, sit on my couch, and watch me.  {I was not comfortable with this then.}

Mid-year I also had a "feast" where I fed my students and their families--extended, some lasagna.  {This was funny because most of the people in the room had never eaten lasagna!}  I started to see great value in opening up and offering hospitality to my students and their families.  There is an amazing and enchanting power in hospitality.

There have been years when I've had a party before school, but this year we just had a year end fiesta over the weekend.  After a few years, I'm able to focus more on what's really important with a more simple format.  If you're interested in experiencing the power of hospitality, here are my recommendations:

You don't have to host it at your house.  Maybe your school or a park or community center can be a good alternative.

1.  Don't worry about having a perfectly clean house.  {Even this year I worried about stuff that no one saw.}

2.  If possible plan the event for outside.  I ask people to bring blankets or chairs.  {I always have a few extras for people who might not bring anything.}

3.  Enlist help/support from one or more parents, if possible. {This year my amazing room parent suggested a theme and provided some of the food--she offered to do more, but this is unusual.  I am getting better at asking people for help.  They are more willing to give help than I am to ask for help!}

4.  Keep the menu as simple as possible.  This year we had walk about tacos--a small bag of Fritos with taco meat and a variety of taco toppings provided by parents.  Families were invited to bring a taco topping or side dish or dessert.  This was the smoothest option ever!  We provided lemonade and water in big coolers, too.

5.  Plan a couple of simple activities.  We usually play charades--the kids guess and the adults put on the charade.  We also did a signature scavenger hunt that got everyone up and talking to each other.

6.  When the activities are done, I invite people to stay as long as they want, but I let them know there is nothing else planned--about 30 minutes after that everyone is gone.

14 of my 24 students were there with some family members--for a total group of 45.  That is a pretty normal turn out.

I realize that this might be to much of a stretch, but I know it's a great way to make a powerful and enchanting memory for kids.  As an added bonus I have flower beds that look pretty darn good in my backyard!!!

What do you do to make a year end memory for yourself and your students?

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