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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.

Suggested Materials:

  • 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.


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Angela Bunyi

Mrs. Brown,

Wow. Your email made me feel great! Thank you for all the kind words and motivators. It makes me want to work harder! And this is sad to say, but I am most happy to hear you liked my home decor. We have only been in it for a year, and everything was REALLY outdated! I guess progress has been made! :)

And yes, you should come have lunch with us sometime soon. Actually, you should come read to our class sometime soon as well. We have mystery reader dates available in November if you are interested.

Best wishes,

Angela Bunyi

Angela Bunyi


I've always thought looping was interesting. I agree that this would be a great way to say goodbye to each other.

Glad this idea helped you!



What a great idea, Angela!

I "looped" with my class up to 4th grade this year. I'm going to keep this in mind for the spring. I think it'll be a great way to say good-bye after 2 awesome years together as a classroom family.



Hello Angela,

What a wonderful blog you got going on! :-)) I love it!
I finally had a chance to stop by here and check it out, and am I glad I did...
This is so great, and you really are super teacher!
I thank you for your time, energy and thoughtfulness you put into this and everything else to make it easier for us busy parents to get involved and keep up with our children's school activity.

Also I thank you for the wonderful party on Friday evening.
It was such a great idea and I certainly enjoyed meeting everyone especially your family. What a sweet, sweet family you have, I really enjoyed talking to all of you!
What a adorable son you have-cute, cute, cute!! :-)))
And you know I loved your house decoration-it looked like it came straight out of Pottery Barn or Pier 1 catalogs! Good taste.... :-)

I will try to stop by and have lunch with Kendall and all of you sometimes.

Thanks, Angela! Domo Arigato!

Best regards,
Misato 'Missy" Brown

Angela Bunyi

Hello Jennifer!

I was really surprised how little prep went into planning the event. With your new home I think you should totally consider a get together! And I hope you are enjoying your new little ones. I can't believe that we are going on week 5 now at our school!

And thank you for the sweet compliments. Maybe that will get me through a Monday morning. Will they get any easier anytime soon?



Angela- What a sweet posting! I loved the faucet, too! With all my new house upgrading, I find I am noticing things I never cared about before like faucets and kitchen appliances! Now that I have a real house, I can actually have a get together like the one you described. Before now I had to visit my students at events that I was invited to; birthday parties, cook-outs, sporting events etc. I almost always made it a point to go because I truly enjoy interacting with my students and their families outside of the classroom. I absolutely believe that it makes me a better teacher, and a better person. And I agree with your former student, you are one of the best in the universe!
Hugs from Austin- Jennifer

Comments are closed. Please see Classroom Solutions, our new blog for the 2009-2010 school year. And stay tuned for Teaching Matters with Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham.

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