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Friday, October 27, 2023

Tips for Planning a Family Literacy Night

Are you looking for new ways to promote literacy among your elementary learners? If so, a family literacy night might be just the ticket to get your students, and their families excited about reading! Come along to learn more about hosting a family literacy night at your school!

Plan a fun and exciting family literacy night at your school this year using these helpful tips and tricks.

What is a Family Literacy Night?

First things first, let's talk about what to expect at a family literacy night. Essentially, this is an event that is usually hosted outside of school hours and focuses on promoting reading among young learners. Typically, the idea behind it is to engage students and parents together in literacy-based activities.

A family literacy night is a night when you can invite families into the school to focus on all things literacy in fun and creative ways.
In addition, family literacy nights often prioritize educating parents on literacy development and providing strategies to help foster reading skills at home.  

My favorite thing about a family literacy night is that it helps build community and trust between school and home. 

Engaging parents and kiddos together in these activities with other children and families present is a recipe for getting students excited about reading!

Family literacy nights can be hosted by grade level, or with the entire school involved. If your school isn't already hosting a family literacy night, talk to your principal or administrator about getting it started. This activity is one that you won't regret, I promise! 

What Types of Activities to Include

Literacy nights can be structured in a number of ways, but more often than not, they are filled with fun and engaging activities for students and parents to participate in together. The activities target things like working together, prompting deeper thought, open discussion, and reflection. The more variety you can have in the activity types, the better! 

Personally, it was always my mission to choose activities and games that felt fun and a bit different from the norm. The goal is to get our kids reading and what better way to get there than with fun activities?! 

Being intentional about choosing activities that might be a little bit out of the box is super helpful when it comes to planning a successful family literacy night.

For example, one of my favorites is a "Book Walk". This activity is a play on the typical cakewalk game, which is a bit like musical chairs. To play, students will walk in a circular path while music plays. Throughout the path, there are books placed in random spots. When the music stops, students are awarded the book they land on. Ask about using PTO or Title 1 Funding to help buy books for this popular activity. 

Activities to include in family literacy night could be crafts, reading time, scavenger hunts, and much more.
Another fun activity that is easy to facilitate is having the principal, librarian, other teachers, community leaders or school board members read aloud during the literacy night event. Parents and students can pick and choose which book reading they'd like to attend. Not only will this allow for more time for reading, but it will help parents and students get to know other school staff members too! 

And. . . this is a great way to connect your school with the local library.  Invite the library to attend the event and set up a table where families can apply for a library card. This is a fun way to branch out beyond the resources within your school. Students will love learning about the public library and seeing when they can visit for story time and book browsing. 

Last but not least, sending students off with a book of their own after the event is a great way to end the evening! Ask community members if they would be willing to donate books for the event. You can also find used books for pennies at thrift stores and yard sales. Look for books that would appeal to the age range of your students.  Then set up a table with all of the available books. Students can flip through the books and choose one to take home with them. It's a great way to give every family a book so they can put into practice what they learned at the family literacy night.  

Get Creative with Literacy Night Activities 

It's also a good idea to choose a few activities that promote creativity and individuality as well. Over the years, I've discovered this truly is the secret sauce in helping students cultivate excitement for just about any topic. If we can guide them towards expanding their literacy skills while also allowing them to express their unique perspective, we can expect to snag their attention and keep it. 

Wondering how this strategy looks in action? Let's take a closer look at more activities I've used in the past with the most successful outcomes!

Family Literacy Night Interview Questions 

First up, this one is a classic and one of my favorites. Every Family Literacy Night I have hosted, I always made sure to include this activity because it's SO much fun. It's a great "ice breaker" for the evening since it gets those brains thinking too! 

A fun activity like these interview questions are great to include in family literacy night and will help parents and students get to know some fun facts about each other.
The questions in this interview pack are split into two levels. One questionnaire is for children in kindergarten through third grade and the other is for third through sixth grade. The idea behind this activity is that parents and children will interview each other to better understand how they feel about reading and share their interests. 

The questions include things like:
  • What kind of books do you like to read? 
  • What do you think makes someone a good reader?
  • How do you feel when you hear or read a story? 
These questions are designed to make both children and parents stop and reflect on their feelings about reading. Both parties will love asking and answering questions in this activity! After the interview, they will draw their family member as they see them as a reader based on the answers. This activity is great for starting out the evening on the right foot. 

Reading Scavenger Hunt 

Next up, this is one of those unexpected activities that's tons of fun and is always a huge hit! 

Use this fun reading scavenger hunt activity during your family literacy night event to help parents and students get to know their way around the school.
I loved planning a school scavenger hunt on family literacy nights because it offers an opportunity for parents and children to work together as they scour the hallways and classrooms for specific items on their lists. 

I included tasks such as:
  • find the kindergarten teacher with the longest name 
  • find a poster and write down what it says
  • find a poem somewhere in the building
This activity is also differentiated by grade level to make this applicable to all of the students at your school. 

Simply print and distribute scavenger hunt checklists, recording sheets, and clipboards if you'd like, and send the families off on an adventure! 

Cooperative Reading Banner 

If you're looking for a fun activity that involves everyone, this next one is a must! 

Ask students and parents to work collaboratively to color and decorate a reading cooperative banner like this as part of your family literacy night activities.
The idea behind a Cooperative Reading Banner is that families will work together to complete pieces of the banner. 

They will color pages, decorate them, cut them out, and assemble them into one large banner. 

The banner comes in a few options like "Reading Rocks!", "Family Literacy Night" and more! 

You can have students create banners prior to Family Literacy Night and display them as decorations or have families work on them as an activity at your event. Either way, this is a great way to encourage teamwork and strengthen the school community. 

In addition to completing the front pages of the banner, students can also personalize the back of each section with pictures and sentences about their favorite places to read, favorite books, and other fun facts. I liked to hang these across hallways so you can easily see both the front and back of each banner.

Reading Motivation Bookmarks

When reading, everyone needs a bookmark. Right?!?? So why not use that to create a hands-on bookmark crafting stating. This is a simple activity that's low-prep and allows everyone to make their own fancy bookmark to take home. 

Have students and parents cut and color their own reading motivation bookmarks like these as a family literacy night activity.
I started by printing these bookmarks that have motivational phrases on them on colored paper or cardstock. Then, let parents and kids go to town to decorate them! 

I liked to provide crafting materials to make this activity feel extra special such as:
  • markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • stickers
  • ribbon or pipe cleaners
  • glitter glue 
Encourage parents and kids to work together to create a fabulous bookmark to take home and use for their evening story-time routine. This activity is a great way to get your littles excited about reading long after your family literacy night has ended!

Would You Rather Questions Presentation

Looking for an activity that will get your families up and moving on Family Literacy Night? 

Run this fun Would You Rather presentation for parents and students to complete in your classroom as they walk through during family literacy night.
Check out this set of Would You Rather Reading Questions! 

This activity asks 14 different questions related to reading such as "Would you rather read a book you picked out or read a book recommended to you?". 

But instead of answering with words, students and parents will copy the movement of the answer they agree with. 

One option has them dancing in a "twist" while the other has them doing "the running man". 

Your students will LOVE this activity, and there's bound to be tons of giggles too! I love this activity because it's super low-prep too. All you need to do is project the presentation up on your screen or smart board and you're good to go!

Reading Rock Craft and Poem 

This final activity is one of the BEST when it comes to promoting some creativity at your literacy night. 

This reading rock craftivity is a great addition to your family literacy night activities.
In this activity, students will bring in a small rock and decorate it with their parents. I provide paint, markers, and googly eyes to jazz up the rocks. 

Then, parents and students will read the printable poem together and agree to use the rock as a reminder to read, read, read! The poem is a cute and friendly way to nudge students toward reading and remind them to read every day. 

The poems come in full-page and mini versions in both color and black and white to meet a variety of needs. Personally, I loved using the mini versions and laminating them. I know it's an extra step, but it will help ensure the poem lasts all year long! 

I encouraged families to hang the poem on the fridge at home and recite it from time to time to help promote more reading! 

Family Literacy Night Bundle 

If you're anything like me, you can never have enough activities on family literacy night! This was hands-down, my favorite event we hosted every year and so I was always excited to plan fun and engaging activities for it. If you can't decide on a favorite from this list, be sure to check out the family literacy bundle!

Grab this Family Literacy Night Bundle for all sorts of fun and exciting activities to do with your parents and students during family literacy night this year.

It includes 6 of the fun activities mentioned here to help make planning your own family literacy night fun and easy! No matter what you choose to use at your own family literacy night, focus on FUN and variety for a successful event! 

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 This post is filled with all of my favorite ideas and activities for family literacy night. Pin it on Pinterest to keep these activities handy! 

Are you looking for a fun way to boost your reading engagement with your students and families this year? Host a family literacy night! Use these fun and exciting activities during family literacy night for a fun filled time full of reading, crafts, scavenger hunts, and more! Kick off your first annual family literacy night with all the great activities included in the Family Literacy Night Bundle! #tarynsuniquelearning #familyliteracynight #literacyactivities

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