How to Plan a School Game Night

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A school game night can provide an evening of fun for parents, teachers and students. Usually organized by a PTA or PTO, family game nights are intended to promote interaction between kids and their parents, as well as to provide parents with an opportunity to meet the parents of their children's classmates. With a little planning, the evening can usually run itself, and even the planners will be able to join in the fun.

  • Assorted board games
  • Posters and fliers advertising the event
  • Signs for game stations
  • Assorted snacks
  • Paper napkins
  • Plastic cups
  • Large thermos jugs
  • Lemonade mix
  • Name tags

1 How to Plan a School Game Night

2 Decide

Decide on a date and time for the family game night. Ask teachers, administrators and officers of the parent-teacher organization to select dates from a window of several weeks. Discuss what would be an appropriate time; for young children, right after dinner will work best, perhaps from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Older kids can usually manage a later time and an event lasting a couple of hours. Announce the game night several weeks in advance through posters at the school, fliers sent home with students, the school newsletter and the school’s website.

3 Decide games

Decide what games would be appropriate for the age groups attending the game night. Once you have a list of games, make a floor plan of the gymnasium or cafeteria and decide how you will divide up the area and how much table space to allow for each game. For example, you might want a bingo area; that will take considerable more seating than perhaps a couple of tables where Scrabble games are set up for four players each. Other possibilities for games include board games like Monopoly and Clue, Chinese checkers and chess, and team games like Pictionary. Make colorful signs to mark each game area.

4 Assign one volunteer to each game station

Assign one volunteer to each game station. The volunteer’s job will be two-fold: one, to clarify the rules for any games (which he or she can join in) and two, to help usher participants to different game stations when each session ends. As families arrive, explain that the idea of the evening is not to play one long game at any station, but to simply try out various games and, when a buzzer sounds, move to a new station where they will meet a new group of players.

5 Be set up ahead of time

Plan refreshments that can be set up ahead of time so that participants can help themselves whenever they wish. Consider such treats as small bags of popcorn, chips or pretzels, cookies and brownies, individual pudding cups and granola bars. Baskets of apples would be a nice addition. For drinks, make big thermos jugs of lemonade and set plastic cups out so people can help themselves.

6 Plan some surprises for the evening

Plan some surprises for the evening. Perhaps a clown might stop in and distribute balloons and coupons for a local miniature golf course. The principal might hold a riddle contest and ask everyone to guess the answer. Several teachers might dress in outlandish costumes and ask kids to guess their identity. A 10-minute trivia contest in which parents are pitted against kids could feature questions that only parents would be likely to know (Academy Award-winning picture of 1985) and others only kids would be likely to know (name of Harry Potter’s owl).

  • Have name tags and markers at the check-in station so participants can learn each other's names.
  • 1 Building Relationships With Parents & Families in School-Age Programs: Resources for Staff Training & Program Planning; Roberta L. Newman; 1999

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.