The beginning of the school year is a super fun time of the year for Elementary Schools!
There’s so much to be excited about when kids start school and injecting some fun into the new routines is a great way for your PTO to give back to the school community and strengthen it at the very same time.
This post has seven ideas for family fun events that are absolutely perfect for the Fall season that are easy to plan and always draw a big crowd and set your PTO up for success for the entire school year!
Back to School Night
Kick off the new school year by combining meet the teacher night with a casual PTO meet and greet for a Back to School Night extravaganza!
This is such a busy night with families carrying loads of school supplies into classrooms, but definitely an opportunity your PTO should not skip since pretty much all parents will be coming into the school.
Next to Parent-Teacher Conference Night, there’s pretty much no other time like this when literally everyone will be at the school at the same time, so plan a companion event.
Your PTO can make the most of this opportunity by planning for light refreshments (water and cookies is totally enough) and getting your most outgoing members stationed around your PTO table, ready to strike up an engaging conversation with parents who come looking for more information.
The back to school time period is crucial for introducing the PTO to the new crop of school families as well as re-engaging returning families, inviting all to get involved.
Recruit Head Room Parents
If your PTO runs a Room Parent program or coordinates class parties, be sure to have sign up sheets out with lots of pens to get interested volunteers signing up.
This is the time to gauge interest levels and get parent committed to the PTO and school.
You totally can do it later on in the year, but it will be more difficult since people tend to be most flexible before new routines have set in.
Collect Parent Email Addresses
Unless you have some pre-arranged deal with the school to get parent email addresses, be sure to collect as many email addresses as you can so your PTO can contact them directly with meeting reminders, volunteer opportunities and fundraisers.
Without this information, you’ll be reliant on the school to send out information to families which may or may not work out so well.
Watch this video for more on how not having parent email addresses derailed one PTO’s plans:
If your school doesn’t currently have a Meet the Teacher Night, perhaps suggest one for next year. It’s a great way for the school and the PTO to partner for a mutually beneficial program!
Hosting a casual Blacktop Bash at the start of the new school year is a fabulous way to bring families together for a night of family fun.
This event draws upon the center of the school’s parking lot and playground to stage the fun.
Call your local fire and police departments and ask for them to send a police car and a fire engine for kids to see up close.
If there’s not an emergency requiring their attention, they will totally come on out to support you.
They love getting out into the community to make connections and serve in a casual way, so don’t hesitate to ask.
The bonus for your PTO is that this is a free addition to your event that can be a big attendance draw!
Borrow the school’s playground balls and arrange a pick up kickball game to keep the kids entertained, leaving tie for parents to get to know one another.
Ask families to bring a side dish, drinks or dessert and use a bit of the Family Fun budget to buy pizza and paper products for the event.
Scale up or down the fanciness level to match your volunteer base.
If you have lots of available volunteers, come up with some more meet and greet activities.
If you don’t have as many volunteers as you’d like, keep things simple.
In either case, be sure to have a PTO table up to collect parent emails and membership dues!
Who doesn’t love seeing little creatives at work, using art supplies in new and totally unexpected ways? Ok, so that would be anyone having to clean everything up at the end of the night!
But in all seriousness, hosting an Art Night is a fantastic family fun event that can set the stage for tons of entries for your PTA’s Reflections Art Contest, which can then be showcased in a school wide Art Show.
Plan some some projects that can be taken home as well as a collaborative project that can be displayed at school for all to see.
Hit up Pinterest or your school’s art teacher for some ideas and inspiration if you need them.
Hosting a Movie Night is another event perfect for Fall since you can host it outside if the weather is nice or inside in the school gym if not!
All the details for planning the event, including how to legally show a movie are in the article linked above.
This flyer makes it easy to spread the word about your event!
Celebrate the season by welcoming Fall in with a party!
This event is similar to a Carnival, only with pumpkins and Fall things.
It’s easy to use pretty much the same game plan, but switch up the decorations, games and prizes to be Autumn themed instead.
One keystone for a successful Fall Festival is having a strong volunteer base at the ready so parents can work a shift and then tag out to enjoy the event with their family.
Be sure to ask easily and often using this customizable Fall Festival Publicity, Volunteer and Donation flyer template set:
Who can resist the lure of glow sticks?
No matter the age, they’re a crowd pleaser for sure!
Rent some black lights and flip the light switch off in your school gym for a different sort of school dance, perfectly times for when the weather begins to turn a bit cooler.
Plus, this event easily flexes to be a straight up free family event or a fundraiser, depending on whether you sell tickets or have free general admission and then whether you sell the glow sticks and refreshments or give away for free, or decide to do some combination of all of these options!
Trunk or Treat
This classic Halloween season event is one my absolute favorites and is so much fun and easy to plan.
It’s also a fantastic event to collaborate with other PTO’s in your area since it’s about the same amount of work to plan a Trunk or Treat for one school as it is three.
You just need a little bit more parking space to accommodate the boosted volume.
Choose a date when the high school football team has an away game and use the high school parking lots or ask to use parking lots near your city’s community center or municipal center.
For more planning information, get the full rundown of all the ins and outs of pulling off a Trunk or Treat here.
Over to you!
Which one of these PTO family fun events perfect for Fall is your new favorite?
All of these events are designed to be timed to serve both your PTO and the larger school community simultaneously and lay the foundation for an awesome year.
Another aspect for all of these events is that they can easily become annual favorites that your group can rely on to bring in the crowds, year after year.