Building Community in Your Backyard
Last year I opened up my home/backyard for a weekend cookout. It was the second time that I had a get-together at my house with a class, and both occasions were really fun. So fun, in fact, I decided to start the year off with a get together at my house. This elaborate ice-breaker of sorts was not only fun for students but allowed parents to meet and greet each other in a relaxed setting. Learn how ours came to fruition and why I am making this a teaching tradition from now on. While the weather is still warm, you might consider a get together with your class as well.
- hot dogs and buns
- invitations through Vista Print
- karaoke machine
- a long table
- a bounce rental
- some cleaning detergents for your home
I created postcard invitations using Vista Print. This company has been a friend of teachers for many years and provides business cards for the price of shipping. I created and purchased my postcards for less than ten dollars. I sent invitations out a week before the event and was lucky enough to have most every student attend. I also had five or so of my students from the previous year attend as well, and that was just through word of mouth.
Hot Dogs on the Grill:
In my experience, if a school function is in the works, parents usually bring enough items to feed a small country. Knowing this, I solicited my husband’s master grill techniques of roasting hot dogs for a minimal cost on food. Essentially, that was all we had to provide for food preparation. Rounding out the shopping included 100 buns, plates, and utensils. I was betting on parents bringing the rest, and they sure did! Even after the event, our kitchen was filled with goodies galore as we gave away item after item after item.
The Rental That Was Well Worth It:
I admit that I did splurge in one way. Because I knew most of my time would be spent socializing with parents, I wanted to have an activity in place for my students and siblings. A mini-obstacle course rental was just too irresistible and eased my worries of making this get together a success.
Touring Our House:
Who would have thought a faucet would be so fascinating for kids?
I think parents enjoyed touring our home as much as the students did. Several home tours were given and allowed students to see me in a new light. I will forgive the few that looked in my laundry room, and I thank the parents who said I could be an interior decorator. I admit it made me feel motivated to finish up the remaining remodeling needed.
Rounding Out the Fun:
We dusted off the karaoke machine and set up a station by the food. This was great as the microphone served a double purpose of making announcements among the crowds in our backyard. Also, one of my students was kind enough to bring a Hawaiian themed bowling set, complete with coconut balls and pineapple pins. What more could you ask for?
Ending is Such Sweet Sorrow:
Our get together was scheduled from 5:30-7:00. From 8:00 a.m-1:00 p.m. the rain came in and out of the scene. I was a little worried, but at 4:00 the skies cleared out and the sun made its way into the picture. The breeze was just right as it kept the humidity at bay. We were fortunate enough to have it stay that way until 6:45. At that point it started to mist on our crowds. A few recognized Tennessee weather and started packing up. By 6:50 it was sprinkling and we were moving the larger items into our house. By 6:55 our company was either on their way out or heading into our house. This made the fastest, most efficient clean-up in party history!
A Tradition From Now On:
This cake made me laugh. Hard. It came from a student I had last year. The topping of the cake for our last get together said, "To the best teacher at Barfield- Mrs. Bunyi." I guess I have been upgraded in their hearts and memories!
After seeing how easy it was to make this a reality, I am set on making this a tradition from now on. I walked into my house at 4:30 and was ready to greet friends and family at 5:30. Preparation time was minimal for us, and we were able to mingle with 60+ new friends in our backyard Friday afternoon. Parents bonded with each other, kids met brothers and sisters, and my family (Mom, Dad, Mr. Bunyi, and Eli) got around to talk as well. It felt great, and I think we all had a blast. I hope you consider this with your classroom as well!
To learn more about our classroom, click here.