Planning out family fun ideas can be overwhelming because there’s the pressure to be creative and put on a truly fabulous event that all will enjoy. The first half of that problem is solved with this huge list of ideas for school family fun event ideas! What’s truly fantastic about this collection of PTO family fun ideas is that the vast majority of these events can be scaled up or down depending on your group’s budget! And these ideas work for a myriad of age groups and aren’t just limited to elementary school family fun night ideas. They’re easy to tweak for PTO and PTA groups of all sizes that serve any age and stage.
1. Bingo Night
Instead of candy or toy prizes, give out books instead! Have a Half Priced Books in your area? See if they’ll donate books!
2. Toy or Book Swap
This is especially effective if Winter Break starts we’ll before Christmas- gives kids a chance to play with or read something new while they wait until the big day! My school serves a small number of low income families, so we gave tickets for the swap to the school counselor who gave them to the families discreetly.
3. Daddy-Daughter Dance
So cute at any age! How about a Butterfly Ball themed evening?
4. Kickball Tournament
Again, having the parents face off versus the kids will make for a memorable event!
5. Fitness Night
Combine with Basketball Night is you have multiple gyms in your school to give a wide range of options. Borrow recess or gym equipment and let the kids have fun playing with the hula hoops and anything else you have access too.
6. Science Night
Have a science professor in the area willing to do a mad scientist show? Make slime and mini volcanos and do other experiments that are age appropriate for an outstanding science night.
7. Multicultural Night
Simple idea: have families bring a dish to share for a potluck dinner that represents their culture!
8. Family Reading Night
Ask attendees to bring some books to swap. Have a station for bookmark making. Contact your local library and see if they could help with volunteers or book recommendations! Click here for some planning resources.
9. Craft Night
Find seasonal crafts that are age appropriate for your families. Mix in some take home projects as well as some collaborative pieces that will stay at the school. Use the collaborative pieces to decorate your school.
10. Art Show
Done in conjunction with your school/district’s PTA Reflections program or on it’s own if your school doesn’t participate.
11. Magic Show
Hire a magician to put on a fabulous show at the school.
12. Silly Olympics
Especially fun in Olympic years when there’s lots of excitement and anticipation! Plan goofy events for families to participate in.
13. Trunk or Treat
So simple! All you need is a blocked off parking lot to provide a safe space for fun trick or treating. Families provide their own treats to pass out, but your group can supplement their candy supply.
14. Blacktop Bash
Literally host a picnic on the playground or school parking lot blacktop. Have everyone bring a side dish, dessert to add to the pizza and drinks the PTO provides. Add some playground balls and organize a kick ball game to keep the kids busy while the adults get to know each other better. Great event for the start of the school year.
15. Animal Show
Hire a local entertainer to bring in a menagerie of animals to perform for your school. Perfect for using as a fundraising incentive!
16. Cookie Decorating
Buy pre-baked, undecorated sugar cookies from a local grocery store so you don’t need an army of volunteers baking away. Host around holiday time and have families decorate 1/2 of the cookies for teachers as a token of appreciation! Or turn it into a Bake Sale fundraiser.
17. Let’s Make a Deal
Remember the game show and how goofy fun it can be? Follow this link for terrific ideas and the exact games to play. This school family fun night is best for Middle School and High Schoolers. Younger kids who haven’t seen the kids might not understand how to play and not be able to get the strategy of the games. Older kids will have a ball with coming in costume and trying to beat classmates!
18. YouTube Movie Night
Borrow a projector from your school and a screen and watch funny (pre-screened) YouTube videos!
Extend the night and offer dinner and a show!
19. Math Night
Ask the math teachers in your building or your district’s Director of Curriculum for help!
This is another event that can take up a ton of planning if not done smartly. Check out this blog post for some super helpful tips, especially if you’re looking to make the carnival a fundraiser.
21. Walk to School
Check out the resources available at Safe Route to School and Walk + Bike to School to plan an event. This is a great event to invite your city officials, school superintendent and local media to attend.
22. Bike Rodeo
This event is a great opportunity to partner up with your city’s Police Department and other local government programs dedicated to health, wellness and safety.
23. Ice Cream Social
Purchase ice cream cups, sprinkles and spoons for an easy to put on event. No scooping necessary and the lines stay pretty short!
24. Mother Daughter Tea
Invite moms and daughters to get dressed up and enjoy a fancy outing.
25. Lego Night
Bring a bunch of Legos bricks for all to play with. Be prepared to be wowed by their creativity!
26. Grandparent’s Dinner/Breakfast/Lunch
This could also be titled as a Special Persons event so that it is more inclusive and not limited to just Grandparents.
27. Service Night
Plan a series of projects that can be donated to local Meals on Wheels programs or Assisted Living facilities. Handmade cards and posters would be great for all ages to create, appreciated by all and are budget friendly to boot!
28. Fall Festival / Harvest Fest
Hay bales races, scarecrow stuffing and other fall themed fun would be enjoyed by all!
29. Veteran’s Day Celebration
Recognize and honor current and past members of the armed forces, whether they’re parents, school staff or community members.
30. Winter Fest
Plan Winter themed events with a twist, especially if the weather in your area is less ideal for extended time outside. Host an indoor snowball fight (use scrap paper), indoor ice skating (paper plates on a gym floor, works better for little kids!) and marshmallows shooters (Balloons stretched over disposable cups) would make for a fun evening!
31. Dr. Seuss’ Birthday Celebration
Dr. Seuss was born March 2, 1904, so let your imagination run wild with the possibilities for a fun-filled evening.
You could watch the Lorax, have a poetry slam or create wacky creature crafts.
Need some ideas to decorate for the event? Steal these Dr. Seuss decoration ideas from the Teacher Appreciation Week plan.
32. 5k Run/Walk
33. Chili Cook Off
Food and fun! Invite local community groups (churches, law enforcement groups, etc) to take part too to spread the fun and get more folks involved in your school.
34. Spaghetti Dinner
When you bring people together over food, good relationships and connections result.
See if a local restaurant can assist with the food prep to save headaches and keep the budget in check.
35. Cupcake Wars
Have students/families bring in cupcakes first for judging (by an independent panel!) and then a taste test by all!
36. Fashion Show
This is a great event for older kids, especially before Homecoming and Prom season. Have younger kids act junior models and escort Seniors down the runway.
37. Family Tailgate Party
Support your district’s sports teams by gathering families for dinner or snacks before a game. This is a great event to get alumni involved.
38. Talent Show
Always a favorite event, but a school talent show can seem like an overwhelming event to put on. But I have you covered with all of the details on how to run a great show here!
Make the take of putting together the program for the Talent Show easy with this program template:
39. Pizza Taste Test Party
Pizza is a relatively inexpensive way to feed lots of people. Get donations from different pizza places around town and have a taste test for a delicious event.
40. Family Game Night
Families bring their favorite card or board game and everyone plays! Can a PTO family fun event get any easier? Not really!
41. Earth Day Park Clean Up
Garbage bags, plastic gloves and hand sanitizer. Easy peasy. Weather’s the only thing that could put a damper on this event, but even with a little bit of rain, most families won’t care. Any excuse to get out into fresh air is a plus for lot of parents.
Great idea for getting kids volunteer service hours for Junior Honor Society and Key Club.
42. Science Fair
Ask for help from your schools Science and STEM / STEAM teacher and see if this will fit in the curriculum to expand the school day to include families.
43. Muffins for Moms/Donuts for Dads
Update this classic event by going for a more inclusive and gender neutral event. After all, the entire point of this type of event is to have students bring someone special to them to school to show off and spend some time with.
Here are two great options for how to present the newly styled events:
44. Special Persons Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Sometimes it’s as easy as designating a day for a special persons event to happen (especially for the lunches!) and advertising it well so families come in.
If your group has the funds, you could serve a continental breakfast if you go the morning event route.
45. Lip Sync Battle
This is another event that would work better with older kids. Unless you want endless rounds of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
46. Family Field Trip
Arrange for off campus activities that are available in your area- museum, science center, aquarium, zoo, hay ride, haunted house, sleigh ride, etc. Set up for pre-sales of (discounted, maybe?) tickets and see if the venue will give a donation back to your group for bringing in the business.
47. Zumba/Yoga Night
Ask around in your school to see if there is a parent who is an instructor who can show participants how to shake their booties.
48. Pumpkin Carving
Families get to leave with a carved pumpkin and all the mess stays out of their home. Get loads of disposable tablecloths* to help with the clean up!
49. “Pi” Night (on March 4th!)
Serve different pies or pizza! Great event to combine with a Math Night.
50. Dodgeball Tournament
How about facing the kids against the adults in a dodgeball tourney?
51. Basketball Night
This can be as informal as you’d like! Most kids are happy to run around and play basketball. You could arrange for a 3 point contest or literally dump balls in the middle of the gym and let the kids have at it.
52. Pottery Night
Get air dry clay or see if a local pottery studio will allow families to bring in pieces to be painted. Negotiate a deal based on the traffic you’ll be driving into the store, and maybe turn this into a mini fundraiser where your PTO will get a portion of the sales.
53. Kids’ Bazaar
Announce this event months in advance so kids can make items. At the event, kids sell their creations! Is there a business school or Small Business Development Center nearby that could help with this event?
54. Mother Son Jammin’ Fun Night
a.k.a. Mommy-Son Dance! Sometimes you just gotta re-title an event to make it appealing! Make sure to have multiple activities to keep the boys entertained and out of trouble. Booming music in the gym, a Super Hero Photo Booth and paper airplanes did the trick to keep everyone entertained for a K-3 event.
55. Reading Fair
Share the joy of reading with a reading and book themed event. Kids can make a poster for a book they’ve read. This could also be a way to have adult make connections and find out about new books they’d be interested in reading. Contact your local library to see if they want to partner up with your PTO.
56. Go Green Night
April is a great month to host this type of event, but any month would really work. Team up with your school’s STEM teachers to plan activities that align with what the kids are learning in class. This event is seething that you can tweak base don the time and talents of parent volunteers and draw upon local connections for a fun event.
Other ideas: Bring in someone from the local park system or a local master gardener to talk about planting rain gardens to manage water run off. Invite the Recycling Club to host a table. Plan some recycled supply crafts for participants to take home.
57. Playdates in the Park
All too often, kids don’t get enough unstructured time, so plan an event that doesn’t necessarily feel like an event. Combine a playground free for all gathering with a bring your own dinner to create a casual event that PTOs of all sizes can easily pull off.
Over to you!
So many terrific ideas to bring your school families together for a wonderful event sponsored by your PTO.
Hope these ideas get your creative juices flowing and you add one or more of these events to your calendar of events!
Another Resource You Might Like…
Looking for how to take these great ideas and put them to work for your PTA/PTO to ignite parent engagement?
Look no further than the Parent Involvement Success Kit.
It’s a completely customizable solution that features done for you parent letters, communication guidelines, volunteer flyers and everything else to get parents involved and excited to be part of your PTO!
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