Family Reading Night — Let's Go Camping!
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
A few nights ago, when the temperature was 24 degrees outside, almost 200 parents, students, and educators braved the cold and gathered in our gymnasium to read. The gym had been transformed. Its usually bright, Phys Ed appearance had disappeared. Instead, we walked into a world of twinkling stars, chirping crickets, tents, and campfires (pretend . . . of course). The memory of the cold wind outside was long forgotten! Families sat together on the wood floor or in lawn chairs for a little shared reading.
The next hour was filled with fun for everyone!
Are you interested in creating this experience for your students' families? If so, read on!
Families arrive, sign in, and pick up sticky notes and grade-level specific reading passages for each child before finding a spot to sit.
Parent Involvement Team welcomes everyone to the campground.
Parents listen to their children read the passage for one minute as they mark miscues. Repeat two or three times for parents with multiple children present.
Students take sticky notes to the paper tree for their grade level.
Students pick up s’more snacks for their family.
Everyone sings a camp song together with printed or projected lyrics on the screen.
Guest reader reads a "camping-out"-themed book to the crowd with the book's pictures projected from a document camera so everyone can see.
Grade levels choose a book to take home.
Everyone reads their new book until it’s time to go home.
Students choose a bookmark on their way out of the gym.
- Strings of white lights
- Volleyball poles to help stretch lights across a large area
- Small sticky notes
- Sharpened pencils
- Document camera
- Computer with large minute timer that is visible to all
- Projection screen or white paper mounted to wall
- Tables for sign-in sheets, fluency passages, snacks, and books
- Lawn chairs or folding chairs in case some parents don’t want to sit on the floor
- Nature CD, music for camp song, and CD player
- Camp décor such as tents, fake campfires, large paper trees across a wall (grade levels written on each for sticky notes)
- Fluency passages for each grade level attending — if possible, parent’s copy should have word counts at the end of the lines
- Snacks with camp theme (we had bags of graham cereal, chocolate chips, and marshmallows)
- Wide selection of books for students to choose from
White Elementary is known for having good turnouts on family curriculum nights, but, due to the bad weather, this one really surprised me.
Smiles definitely dominated the scene that night! Parents left for home with a new understanding of how they can help their children with reading fluency, and their children left with a new book and . . .
another positive experience with reading!
More Ideas and Resources:
Early Childhood and Family Engagement — Scholastic
"How to Run a Successful Family Night" — PTO Today
Success Stories from Partnership Schools — Johns Hopkins University
And . . . the most important of all . . . hardworking, creative people like Amanda, our Parent Involvement Coordinator, and the White Elementary Parent Involvement Team!