Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Top 10 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Open House

It's that time again! Back to School time! And chances are you are preparing for your Open House to meet all your students and parents for the first time. (Or Meet your Teacher, Back to School Night, whatever your school calls it) So, of course, you want to make a great first impression!

{Click on the picture to go to my Pinterest Board- Open House to view ALL my pins related to Open House and find more ideas.}

Rewind 4 years ago, and I was prepping for my first Open House. I was working at a new school and they decided to have Open House a full week before school started! Yes, that year I had two full weeks of training... In the midst of all those meetings and PD's, I had to find the time to set up my classroom. And I had to prepare for Open House, all in less than a week's time! I was definitely NOT prepared for my first Open House.

Every Open House is different. Ours was a 4 hour block, when parents could come and go as they please. At some points of the day, I was juggling 5 different parents, asking questions about forms to fill out and what do I need to do next? I felt like a fish out of it's bowl, flopping around everywhere, not being able to talk to the parents as I needed. But sometimes, there was only 1 parent in the room, so I was able to give them my full attention. Lesson learned: Be Prepared with a Plan!

The next year, I started doing these 10 tips and tricks that I had learned from other teachers, bloggers, and Pinterest. Let me tell you, Open House does not scare me anymore! The past few years, everything has flowed so nicely and parents were happy. So, if you are a newer teacher and want to make a super first impression, read on!


These Open House signs have saved my life! When parents come in, they see the Sign In/Welcome Sign, which tells them to sign in and follow the signs until they get to the last one. While they are walking around the room, I make sure I go over at some point to introduce myself and meet the student. That way if I was talking to Johnny's parents and answering their questions, when Jimmy's parents walked in, Jimmy's parents would see the signs and start, instead of waiting around until I was finished answering Johnny's parents questions. They don't have numbers that way you can use it for what works for you. I am going to put a little cardboard number (from craft stores) next to each one. Click on the picture for a FREE download at Teachers Pay Teachers. 


Here are two ideas on how to use the signs from one of my former teammates, Venus! Thanks for sharing! 

You can put the signs in a cheap Dollar Store Frame on a table...


Or hang them on a whiteboard with magnets with the information forms.


I found this idea from Kreative in Kinder and love it! Have parents bring supplies and sort it into each tubs, so you don't have to take time on the first day or after the first day to sort. 

I also LOVE these labels from Christina DeCarbo, that you could use for the tubs! Click on the picture to go to her TPT store to download it! 



This was my #1 Back to School Tip that I shared more about here. It has saved me so much time throughout the year! These information packets are something you prepare for Open House, so take a few minutes to make extras. Plus I've gotten more than 18 on Open House and luckily I was able to pull out a packet for that parent! 
{I found this image on Pinterest, but I still can't find who to give credit to for this picture/idea. So if you know, please let me know, so I can give proper credit.}


This is a NEW tip I am going to try out this year. I read about it from Creativity to the Core here. She uses Google Docs for her forms and uses the student computers for the parents to type out their information in! No more trying to read illegible handwriting or not having the correct email address for the parents. It's already typed up so you can just print or save it to your computer!


Sharing Kindergarten has an easy tutorial on how to set up these GoogleDocs. Thank you ladies for this AMAZING idea!

I suggest doing a fun scavenger hunt to explore the classroom! Here is one resource I love that are Kindergarten/1st Grade appropriate! These are from Katie Mense at Little Warriors! Click on the picture to find both downloads.


But if scavenger hunts aren't your thing, here are some ideas to keep the kids busy.

ABC puzzles, Go Fish, matching games, coloring sheets, blocks, books to look at- Just make sure the kids tidy up before they leave. If they have an older sibling, I give them a book to read to their younger sibling.

I love, love this idea! And the parents love taking pictures! We weren't allowed to have parents walk their students into their classroom on the first day, which made many parents upset, especially in Kindergarten. This was a neat alternative that parents appreciated. I let them use an old digital camera on a stool and have photo props or a cute background to take a fun picture. Parents love getting a picture of their child with the teacher, so I can pop in and take a quick picture with them.

Here's an idea from Kindergarten Kindergarten. Click on the picture to read more about how she sets up her Photo Booth:


These are SO handy and I love them. They take some time to make, but are helpful (and color coded) for parents. Here's the one I use from Chalk & Apples. Click on the picture to go to her product!


We already have 20349832059 things on our plate, are running low on school funds, and need to utilize our time wisely. I see so many cute pins/ideas on Instagram of a cute Open House treat, but I like easy and cheap! Here are two ideas that I like to use as a "Thanks!" for coming to Open House.

{All you need is a bag of mints and this cute FREE sign!}

{All you need is a bag of Blow Pops and this cute FREE sign!}

{All you need is a 24 pack of water bottles and this cute FREE sign}


I was skeptical of making a donation station, but it has helped me get a few extra donations! I was worried that the parents would think that I was asking for too much, but it turns out they were happy to help! I usually ask for sharpies, card stock, ziplock baggies, snacks, colored computer paper, etc. Here are two cute ideas on how to set up your donation station. Click on the pictures to read more. 


{Lend a Helping Hand- by Head Over Heels for Teaching}


{Bee Kind and Donate if you can- by Buzzing Along in First Grade}

Every year, I create a "business card" for parents to keep on their fridge, or in their wallet. I give them two versions, one with a magnet attached and one without. I create a business card with all my information, print, cut them out, laminate, and stick a sticky magnet to the back! It's free and easy and parents are always impressed by this detail. This year, I am going to create my own and order from Vistaprint. They always run great deals and are fast with shipping! 

I have uploaded a FREE and EDITABLE version in my TPT store! Click on the picture to see the product! 

Thank you for stopping by to read about my Tips and Tricks for a successful Open House! I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below! 


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