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October 8, 2012

# Family Fun Night (With a Halloween Twist)

At my school, we are always looking for ways to involve the whole family in the learning process. One annual event that serves this purpose is our Family Fun Night. For the last two years, we've given our Family Fun Night a Halloween twist. Students are encouraged to wear their costumes, and each time they complete an activity, they get to say, “Trick or Treat,” for a surprise. Read on for descriptions of some of the math, science, and literacy activities we include in our Family Fun Night.

## Literacy Activities

Monster Masks: Students have an opportunity to hear a read-aloud of the book Where the Wild Things Are via a streaming video. They then use a variety of art supplies to make masks like the monsters in the book. This is a fun craft, but it also makes sure that students are being mindful of characters in the books they read.

Book Walk: If you’ve been to a carnival or bazaar, you’ve probably seen a cake walk. This is the same concept, only the prizes are books instead of cakes. Numbers are placed in a circle on the floor, and students walk around the circle as music is played.  When the music stops, the teacher draws a number, and whoever is standing on that number gets to choose a book to take home. Our supply of books comes entirely from donations.

Writing Opportunities: Almost every station at Family Fun Night involves some sort of writing. We have large pieces of chart paper out where students can share their thinking. This provides an opportunity for them to clarify their thinking and learning, and it’s exciting to see them read and react to each other’s responses.

## Math Activities

Jump Rope Graphing: Students jump rope as many times as they can without stopping, counting each jump as they go. When they stop, they graph the number of jumps they completed on a giant bar graph posted on the wall. This activity gets them moving while they think, and the graphing practice is great for all ages.

Estimation: Students use a variety of strategies to estimate the amount of candy in a jar. This is differentiated by grade level so that students are working with numbers that are appropriate for their age. PreK, kindergarten, and 1st grade students work with a jar that is relatively small and filled with the biggest candy. The 2nd and 3rd grade students estimate the amount of candy in a slightly larger jar filled with smaller candy, and 4th and 5th grade students work with the largest jar. It is filled with the smallest candy, so the task is more challenging for them. This station is highly popular because the student with the closest estimate takes home the candy!

## Science Activities

Feely Bags: Mystery items are placed in cloth bags, and students use their sense of touch to guess what the objects might be. Since we have a Halloween theme, food items add to the creepy factor of this station. Again, students record their observations to share.

Exploring Science Tools: Students get to experience all of the fun of the school science lab in this activity. They look through microscopes and hand lenses, and they try their hand at several different types of balances. This station allows them to review safety procedures, and they love to show their parents how to use the tools correctly.

Live Animals: The animals change every year, but these are always very popular. Students get to observe and (in some cases) hold snakes, rats, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and more. The teachers at these stations share facts about the animals, like their eating and sleeping habits, for instance. The students write about what they notice and what they know about those animals.

Family Fun Night is about opening our doors and inviting parents to join us on their children’s educational journey. If you have ideas to share about increasing parental involvement, please post them in the comments below!

At my school, we are always looking for ways to involve the whole family in the learning process. One annual event that serves this purpose is our Family Fun Night. For the last two years, we've given our Family Fun Night a Halloween twist. Students are encouraged to wear their costumes, and each time they complete an activity, they get to say, “Trick or Treat,” for a surprise. Read on for descriptions of some of the math, science, and literacy activities we include in our Family Fun Night.

## Literacy Activities

Monster Masks: Students have an opportunity to hear a read-aloud of the book Where the Wild Things Are via a streaming video. They then use a variety of art supplies to make masks like the monsters in the book. This is a fun craft, but it also makes sure that students are being mindful of characters in the books they read.

Book Walk: If you’ve been to a carnival or bazaar, you’ve probably seen a cake walk. This is the same concept, only the prizes are books instead of cakes. Numbers are placed in a circle on the floor, and students walk around the circle as music is played.  When the music stops, the teacher draws a number, and whoever is standing on that number gets to choose a book to take home. Our supply of books comes entirely from donations.

Writing Opportunities: Almost every station at Family Fun Night involves some sort of writing. We have large pieces of chart paper out where students can share their thinking. This provides an opportunity for them to clarify their thinking and learning, and it’s exciting to see them read and react to each other’s responses.

## Math Activities

Jump Rope Graphing: Students jump rope as many times as they can without stopping, counting each jump as they go. When they stop, they graph the number of jumps they completed on a giant bar graph posted on the wall. This activity gets them moving while they think, and the graphing practice is great for all ages.

Estimation: Students use a variety of strategies to estimate the amount of candy in a jar. This is differentiated by grade level so that students are working with numbers that are appropriate for their age. PreK, kindergarten, and 1st grade students work with a jar that is relatively small and filled with the biggest candy. The 2nd and 3rd grade students estimate the amount of candy in a slightly larger jar filled with smaller candy, and 4th and 5th grade students work with the largest jar. It is filled with the smallest candy, so the task is more challenging for them. This station is highly popular because the student with the closest estimate takes home the candy!

## Science Activities

Feely Bags: Mystery items are placed in cloth bags, and students use their sense of touch to guess what the objects might be. Since we have a Halloween theme, food items add to the creepy factor of this station. Again, students record their observations to share.

Exploring Science Tools: Students get to experience all of the fun of the school science lab in this activity. They look through microscopes and hand lenses, and they try their hand at several different types of balances. This station allows them to review safety procedures, and they love to show their parents how to use the tools correctly.

Live Animals: The animals change every year, but these are always very popular. Students get to observe and (in some cases) hold snakes, rats, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and more. The teachers at these stations share facts about the animals, like their eating and sleeping habits, for instance. The students write about what they notice and what they know about those animals.

Family Fun Night is about opening our doors and inviting parents to join us on their children’s educational journey. If you have ideas to share about increasing parental involvement, please post them in the comments below!

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