I leave out Post-its for parents to write encouraging notes to their kids to put in their pencil boxes for them to find the next day. The kids get so excited!
On the Hunt
A scavenger hunt works well for me. I greet the parents and give them a list of projects and student work to view, and they have to go and find everything on the list. The students are in charge as the tour guides. My only job, besides greeting parents, is to take family pictures in the class “photo booth.” —Valerie E.
Make Your Class Pop!
I usually have a small treat on the students’ desks. I have used popcorn with a note that says, “Thanks for popping in!” Short and sweet. —Jackie R.
Sign Me Up
Have a conference sign-up sheet handy. Parents always want to discuss progress, and this is not the night to do it. Early in the evening, be sure to explain that this is open house and not a time for conferences—and then offer the sign-up sheet. —Mendy M.
Work It Out
I have parents do some of the work their kids are doing in class. I focus on the type of work they may not be familiar with or may have difficulty helping their children with at home.
The Giving Tree
If there are any materials you need for class, create a “tree” and hang images, samples, or the names of the materials you need on it. Parents can pull from the tree and donate the product they select to your class!
Make posters for parents to write on. Possible titles: “When I was in first grade I loved to...” “My child loves to...” and “My goals for my child this year are....” At the end of the night you will see amazing lists from parents.
I stress my top priority—reading—by having a basket of books. I tell each parent to take a book from the basket as a “thank-you” for coming. —Meg M.
I write the names of several educational websites on sentence strips and post them on the classroom computers. This gives parents an at-home teaching tool. Follow up by putting the same sites in your classroom newsletter. —Angie M.
Ask colleagues in your building about the culture of the parents: There might be “hot-button” issues that need to be addressed. —Jen C.
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Images (iStock): Constantinosz (pencil case); Kyoshino (sticky note)