Can I be real here? Seeing Open House on the calendar brought on a huge wave of anxiety for at least the first 5 years of my teaching career. I’m great in a room full of kids, but swap them out for parents and I’m nervous wreck! No more. I’m going to let you in on my 3 secrets to have the best elementary open house ever!
The switch from dread to excitement happened when I started thinking of Open House in the same way I think about teaching a lesson to my class: active engagement, clear delivery, independent work time. Done!
In this post, I’m going to tell you my secret sauce for the best Open House ever! (And trust me, they are such easy ideas that will completely transform your Open House!) Plus, I’ll hook you up with some epic FREEBIES to make your Open House a breeze!!
Secret #1: Open House Stations for Parents
Parents show up at different times on parent night and there’s always awkward down time before your Open House presentation starts. Give them something to do while you wait for the room to fill up! Stations are an ideal way to get parents actively engaged in your Open House.
Here are the Parent Stations I use, and links to the activities you’ll need the kiddos to prepare beforehand. Stations can be completed in any order:
Parent Playlist – We love playing music in the classroom, if this is something you haven’t tried, add it to your list of “must do’s” this school year! The objective of this station is to collect a playlist created by the parents. Students love hearing “their song” come on and it brings back memories of time spent with their families!
Teacher Prep: Stick an anchor chart/extremely large Post-It note (I LOVE THESE) somewhere in the room and leave a basket of markers. Add your own song or two to get parents going.
Notebook Notes – In this station, parents write a note to their child in one of their notebooks for them to find!
Teacher Prep: Make sure there is a notebook or two at each student’s desk, and something to write with. If you don’t have desks and use individual bins like I did (you can read about my classroom set up HERE), don’t worry, you’ll see an option for you in the freebie!
Guess Who? – This is SO fun! Parents will have to read clues and guess which mystery student is their child.
Teacher Prep: Print out page 5 of the Open House Freebie and have each student fill it out with 7 facts about themselves. While they’re doing that, snap a photo of each student and send it to your printer (or upload them to a store for printing). Fold construction paper in half, and attach the clues on the outside and the students’ photos on the inside! Hang these in a place where parents can see and interact with them!
Kid Quiz – A classic Open House activity that kiddos and parents love equally!
Teacher Prep: This freebie comes from Rachel Lynette on TpT! Have your students fill out the side that says “My Favorites…” with all of their favorite things. Then, fold the paper in half and leave the blank side facing up. This is the side parents will fill out to see if they “know” their child. I leave this on top of students’ desks when parents walk in so it’s ready for them!
Hopes & Dreams – Start the year off with some positivity and get to know what your parents envision for their children.
Teacher Prep: Put an anchor chart/large sticky note somewhere in the room that is accessible to parents. Leave a basket of pens or markers and a stack of sticky notes.
Secret #2: Collect Important Info
This secret is disguised as a parent station but is really so. much. more!
There are a ton of back to school forms that provide valuable information about our new students that give us insight into their likes/dislikes, learning styles, etc. But that’s just the thing, there are a ton of them, which makes it hard to organize and sift through all the information. That’s why I love a good flipbook. Everything in one place! CLICK HERE to download!
Snack Attack – The objective of this station is to give parents time to complete a flipbook that provides you with important information about their child. (The “snack” part is just a way to get them to sit down and enjoy a snack while they’re working!)
Teacher Prep: To set up this station, print out enough flipbooks for each student in your class and put them on a table, along with some snacks for parents to choose from. Place the station directions nearby and provide pencils for parents to use! **This station will also work if you provide a flipbook or pamphlet of information about yourself! Just choose the station header that corresponds.
Speaking of important info, read about out my all-in-one system for maintaining positive communication with parents and students!
Secret #3: There’s Power in PowerPoint.
PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, whatever it is that you use, USE IT! Know what information you need to share with parents, and have it all in one place.
For years I’ve used my First Day and Open House PowerPoint and it has truly made the crazy first weeks of school more manageable and streamlined time after time. I just add my information and tweak it as things change over the years. I never forget what I’m supposed to talk about at Open House, or leave out important info that parents need to know. 👍
P.S.- I use the same resource to teach my students all about myself, our classroom and my expectations during the first week of school. It’s a win-win!
Open House Freebies
Open House can be fun and exciting for all! Will you be trying out these ideas at your parent night this year? Tell me all about it! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more classroom ideas and inspiration!