If you’re interested in a great way to kick off the start of a new school year, look no further than this list of back to school event ideas. Host a fun and exciting event to welcome students back this year.
Going back to school requires a lot of preparation from the parents and teachers, and even from the students themselves. Sometimes this process can seem daunting. A social event can lighten the mood and make everyone excited for the new school year ahead.
Furthermore, one of the best things about back to school events is that there are countless options to choose from! So, there’s no doubt that a school can find an event idea that is the best fit for their school size, unique students, and budget.
Why Are Back to School Events Important?
Making the transition from summer break to school can be difficult for some students. Returning back to school requires a big mental adjustment, particularly for younger students. This is why welcoming them back with a fun and engaging event is such a good idea.
Furthermore, a lot of students feel anxiety about returning to school. Either because they are nervous about starting a new grade, they don’t want to leave their parents, or they struggle with socializing.
Hosting a back to school event that can facilitate a smooth transition. It can make school seem more enjoyable and can help ease those anxious feelings.
How Do I Host a Back to School Event?
Hosting a back to school event can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be! Depending on the school’s event budget and its organizational capacity, there are countless types of back to school events that could be perfect.
Whatever type of event the school decides on, all that matters is that the students have a good time.
Usually, back to school events will be coordinated by the school or district’s Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO). Parents and teachers working together to create a meaningful back to school event is ideal. It will help to smooth the path from summer vacation (typically spent with parents) to the school year (spending every day with teachers).
If you aren’t already a member of the PTO and you have an idea for a great back to school event, consider reaching out to them to get more information about how to join or at least share your ideas.
If your school or district doesn’t have a PTO, consider starting one (with a room mom program, of course)! They are incredibly beneficial for all parties involved, especially the students.
Back to School Event Ideas
Once you’ve decided that you definitely want to host a back to school event, the true challenge comes into play with choosing the type of event you want to host. Read through the following suggestions for inspiration and guidance.
School Supply Scavenger Hunt
This is a great back to school event because it ties in involves something with a high level of activity for the students, but also results in them gathering the things they need to have a successful school year ahead. Therefore, they can burn off their summer energy and start to focus on the fun of education.
If you’re hosting a school supply scavenger hunt for students who might not know how to read yet (or might not be the strongest readers yet), using pictures instead of words on the scavenger hunt lists can make the game easier and more fun for them.
Also, the scavenger hunt can be held pretty much anywhere: the playground, the athletic field, and even the classrooms!
Because most students come back to school with their supply lists already completed, consider including school supplies in this scavenger hunt that they might not otherwise have. Things like novelty erasers, colored pens, or unique notebooks can make students feel like they stumbled upon a treasure!
Ice Cream Social
A classic tradition, the ice cream social is a favorite for back to school events. It’s no wonder why; the result is delicious and fun for students, teachers, and parents alike!
Include a sundae bar so that students can explore their sense of creativity and build their own unique ice cream dishes. I love this simple set up by Samantha at My Kitchen Love for decoration inspo.
Some schools prefer to take the simple route with this event and offer single-serve ice creams and a small table of topping options. This is a great way to avoid mess and the need for extensive cleanup after the event. It’s also easy on the budget.
However, if your school isn’t too concerned about those things, an ice cream social can get pretty elaborate and impressive!
Be sure to stay wary of any allergies when it comes to sundae ingredients, such as peanuts, and look into making dairy-free options available for any students who are lactose intolerant. The point of a back to school event is to make sure that everyone feels included.
Back to School Block Party
A block party is a great time for both kids and adults. With music, dancing, and food, there are so many ways that you can make a block party work for a back to school event.
Consider including a potluck element to the event so that parents are encouraged to bring a shareable dish to the block party along with their excited student.
Provide outdoor activities for the students like hopscotch contests and four-square competitions. You can also set up inexpensive activity stations like these pool noodle outdoor games for students.
If a parent or teacher is particularly good at dancing, you could ask them to teach a Zumba class for the students, too. You can even consider a pie-in-the-face activity for students to get a giggle about sticking whipped cream in their teachers’ faces.
Back to School Drive-Through Bash
Give students a chance to sit behind the wheel by creating a “drive-through” that leads them from classroom to classroom. Students can imagine they’re driving a car throughout the school picking up supplies and treats along the way.
Sometimes, giving young students the chance to feel more like adults will make their transition back into the school year a little bit smoother. It’s also a great way for students to get to know new surroundings and new teachers while collecting useful supplies along the way.
For kids coming to school for the first time, such as kindergarten students, or for students transferring in from a different school, this type of back to school event can make their transition undeniably easier.
Back to School Bingo Night
Seriously, who doesn’t love bingo? It’s one of my all-time favorite games to play, and it’s great for all ages! Since you only need to buy a few supplies, it’s a simple, cost-effective back to school event to coordinate.
Last year at our school fair, the athletic department hosted a bingo night for students, and it was a huge success. If you’re wanting to host a school-wide bingo night, this is the bingo set we used, and these are the disposable cards we purchased to pass out.
For prizes, plan to give away school supplies and other education-centric items. That way, students can enjoy the game while keeping the event focused on the school year ahead.
It’s up to the host to determine the scale of the prizes, but they can range from neon-colored markers to a whole backpack full of goodies!
For younger students, it might be wise to forego the letters and numbers involved in traditional bingo. Consider using different things as categories such as colors, animals or shapes, like in this Shape Bingo Printable set by Beth at 123Homeschool4Me.
Back to School Picnic
A picnic is a great idea if you want to host a more casual back to school event. Creating a relaxing atmosphere in any outdoor areas at the school for parents and students to gather gives everyone a chance to mingle before classes start.
Keep the students occupied with games and activities to allow parents the freedom to socialize and get to know one another.
One of the best ways to make a back to school picnic work for a low event budget is to make it potluck style. Encourage parents to bring a dish to share at the event. Not only will this facilitate conversation, but it will also provide many delicious options for the students to enjoy after they’re finished rolling around in the grass!
Themed Back to School Night
This type of back to event can be super fun because it gives students the chance to socialize outside of school hours, potentially building bonds and friendships that they might not have done otherwise. Plus, they can show their creativity with how they choose to dress for the theme. Popular ideas for themes include: Super Heroes, Under the Sea, or decade themes like 70’s or 80’s.
Provide music that fits the theme of the night and offer refreshments to the students and parents attending. Consider having different themed activities in separate classrooms, like a movie playing in one room and games happening in another. You can even have a contest for the best themed outfit and give away school-centric prizes.
Boo Hoo Breakfast
Though it has a silly name, a boo hoo breakfast is actually a really beneficial back to school event.
Boo hoo breakfasts came out of the idea that it is common for both students and parents to cry on the first day of school, especially if it’s the student’s first day of kindergarten. Offering a social breakfast event can oftentimes combat that unpleasantness.
Therefore, this event is a great option for younger students transitioning from being in their parents’ care constantly into a school environment for the first time.
For decorations, check out Julie’s post about how she set up a special back to school breakfast for her own children. I love the idea of using inexpensive black table cloths as “chalk boards” and having white paint pen or chalk available for students to decorate the tables.
Host a breakfast on the first day of school so that parents get a chance to mingle with other parents and students have the opportunity to spend a little more time with their parents while munching on yummy food.
Boo hoo breakfasts are also good for students who are new to town because it allows both them and their parents to get to know their new community in a friendly environment with delicious breakfast foods.
Back to School Pizza Party
Every kid loves pizza, but not every kid loves school. Combine the two together and you’ll be one step closer to facilitating a pleasant transition back to school even for the most resistant of students.
Make sure you have plenty of options for students who might not like meat or who might like odd pizza toppings.
You can even make the pizza party more engaging by asking students to share their favorite pizza topping. Turn it into an educational opportunity once they’re back in class by using the favorite topping statistics to teach percents, fractions, or probability. Making a connection between the back to school event and the school year is key.
It’s also a good idea to have options for students who might be lactose intolerant or have a gluten allergy. Ensuring that all students feel included in the event is the key to a successful back to school affair.
Back to School Tailgate Party
A tailgate party for a back to school event is an amusing opportunity to mirror the massive celebrations that occur during homecoming season at colleges and universities across the country.
It’s a great chance for students to show off their school spirit and get excited about the year ahead. If the school has spirit-wear, double it as a fundraising event and make it available for purchase at the tailgate.
Ask parents and teachers to volunteer their barbecue skills in order to provide classic tailgate foods for the attendees.
Include activities that fit the tailgate theme like flag football and obstacle courses. If relevant, it could also be a great idea for the school’s band to practice their performance skills and play a rendition of the school song for everyone.
If you’ve never organized a tailgate party, check out these tips on how to plan a successful tailgate event from scratch.
- Host a Back to School Teacher Breakfast with this Free Printable Invitation & Guide
- Print Free Gift Tags for These Practical Teacher Gifts on the First Day of School
- Looking for Back to School Worksheets? Use this Free Word Search Activity for 2nd-3rd-4th Graders
- Make this Virtual Card to Give the Teacher a Laugh on the First Day Back
Back to school events are one of the more effective ways to ensure that students returning to school after summer can transition effectively.
Blending education and fun are the key to a successful back to school event. These events act as an entertaining middle ground between the two different worlds of summer vacation and the school year.
Furthermore, parents and students who experience anxiety at the start of the school year will be eased by a back to school event. This is important especially if it’s the student’s first day of kindergarten or pre-K, and they’ve never been to school before. Connect with your PTO and the community to determine which back to school event is the best option for your school and students.