Going back to school was always an exciting time to me, the oddball student who ADORED school, because I loved getting new school supplies–picking the perfect backpack, getting new notebooks and folders, decorating the covers with my new markers. These preparatory activities excited me because they meant a new year of learning (as well as they fulfilled my personal love of pretty papers, stationery and office supplies).
Well, unfortunately every community has many, many children who don’t get as excited because their families can’t afford to buy those supplies. But thankfully, many organizations try to help by sponsoring school supply collections for students in need. One example Inour area is the YMCA which annually sponsors a “Bright Beginnings” program to collect school supplies and donations to buy them.
So this is the perfect time of year to help your own children learn to be thoughtful and kind to those in need. If you want your children to have an educational experience in generosity, you might like to host a Bright Beginnings school supply party as a fun celebration of going back to school.
Since this party lends itself to a large number of guests, you may want to ask permission to use the playground, field or parking lot of your school, neighborhood clubhouse, or church as the location for this gathering.
Invite the schoolchildren in your neighborhood, childcare center, church, Scout troop or sports team to bring school supplies to share and to celebrate going back to school.
Your invitation with the information on the supplies needed can be printed on your home computer printer. You might make it look notebook paper or a school book. You may also choose to send your invitation by email.
In addition, you might share the information about your charitable school supply collection on your favorite social media outlets. You may be able to find other mother volunteers to help solicit donations from local businesses for school supplies or refreshments for the party (bottled water and simple cookies are all that’s really needed.)
Find some large deep cardboard boxes to collect the supplies in–perhaps your children can help you cover and label the boxes or let some of your young guests decorate them. Make sure to get photos of your guests standing with their donations so you can post them on social media.
Once the school supplies have been put in the collection boxes, your guests will be ready to have fun! With this kind of large party, it is generally practical to have “play stations” where guests can move from game or activity to the next. This approach usually helps with bottlenecks of too many children waiting their turns at one game or activity.
- Nametag booth-have adhesive nametags and markers for guests to make and decorate their own nametags
- Photo booth with props with which guests can pose. One set of props could include signs for each school grade like “Grade 1 2018-2019.” Parents can take their own children’s photos or the volunteer helper could take email addresses to send photos to parents.
- Bookcover Booth--have large sheets of craft paper or cut-up brown paper grocery bags and markers and stickers so guests can personalize book covers to use for their schoolbooks
- Pencil-Sharpening Booth–set up a table near an electrical outlet and have several electric pencil sharpeners and lots of new pencils. Kids love sharpening pencils in these electric wonders. Let each guest take home two pencils.
- What I Like About Grade X–Have large sheets of paper or poster board attached to the wall or laid on a table–each sheet should have a large bold headline like “What I Love about Grade 3” for each grade. Then provide colored markers for the guests to leave their positive comments about each grade they’ve been in.
- Build Your Own Schoolhouse–provide a large supply of plastic drinking straws, pairs of children’s scissors, pieces of construction paper and tape on the table so guests can create straw sculptures of what they think a good school would look like. The straws can be cut to appropriate lengths and taped on the paper to create a flat picture of a school, or the ends of straws can be pushed in the ends of other straws to create three-dimensional school structures.
- Walk with a Book (s) on Your Head Relay–divide into two teams and one team races against the other to see whose team members can walk to the designated line and back without dropping the books on their heads. The fastest team wins.
Creating enthusiasm with this party about going back to school will make your children excited for the start of the new year and sharing school supplies with other children in need will teach them about being kind and generous. May your Bright Beginnings school supply party be a great success!