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Plan the Perfect Halloween Class Party With 7 Easy Steps [episode 34]


Click below to hear class party planning for the perfect Halloween party:

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Overview of episode 34:

Have you ever had an idea for a party, but struggled on how to efficiently execute your plan? We’re raising our hands because we’ve definitely been there, especially when it comes to class party planning. Last week, we did an episode on a class party planning checklist, which outlined 7 steps to a successful class party, so be sure to take a listen if you missed that episode. So in today’s episode, we’re taking those 7 easy steps  and planning the perfect Halloween class party.

It seems like a class party should be no big deal but it turns out there are so many small decisions to make that are necessary to pull off a class party! It is more than having a few snacks and activities for the students to enjoy at their leisure. Therefore, our goal is to walk you through the 7 clarity steps to show the process of putting together a class party. Since this task can be overwhelming and bring on stress, we help show you that class party planning can actually be enjoyable and worry-free for you!

You can have all the great ideas in the world, but if the idea is not planned or executed properly, it can be a bust. And having a class party doesn’t have to turn out that way. Having a class party planning checklist perfectly executed results in a fun and memorable experience for both you and your students (and a smoothly run class party for you)!

Highlights from the episode:

[00:55] Today’s morning message is: what’s a canceled TV show you want one more season of?

[3:16] A review of our 7 steps to a class party planning checklist.

[5:17] The breakdown of how to plan a Halloween class party during the 7 steps.

[9:29] Explanation of which activities are appropriate, simple, and engaging for students during class parties.

[19:47] Today’s teacher approved tip for class party photography.


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Read the transcript for episode 34, Plan the Perfect Halloween Class Party With 7 Easy Steps:

Hey there. Thanks for joining us today. In today’s episode, we’re going to plan a Halloween class party together and share a teacher approved tip for class party photography. We start our episodes with a morning message just like we used to do at morning meeting in our classrooms. Today’s morning message is what’s a canceled TV show you want one more season of? Emily, what’s your sadly gone TV show? Well, recently, I think mine would be Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlists. No. Such a fun show really enjoyed that show. And they kind of left it on a major cliffhanger that would have been fun to see resolved. So I would love just one more season to wrap up all those loose ends. I think if a network cancels a show they owe the fans a wrap up episode if nothing else, yes, they did that with that show. We liked what was it? You know, it was the one the one where they travel in time. Oh, it’s Timeless! Yes. Timeless. Yes. And I so appreciated that they came back and wrapped that and it was like the fans that got it back for another season. And then they cancelled it anyway. And then yeah, it really needed the wrap up. That was such a good show. I love that one too. I want another season of that too. I know. Okay, well, what’s your show? Well, my one true long lost TV show love is Pushing Dasies, victim of the writer’s strike. No. It’s still like it still hurts. Yes, that one was so good. Just so clever and quirky and sweet and charming and all of the things and we will forever have to mourn what it could have been the pie hole and all of Snoke Come on. So good. We have some answers from our community to this question. Francine said, Ed, we both love Ed. I love Ed. Chaya said Friends. I think we’re due for a like a reunion special. I mean, they did their special but like some more episodes like where it was like actually the character Yes, like Will and Grace. Yes. But just a little reboot. Karen said Freaks and Geeks. Oh, that was such a good one. And it stinks that that only got one season because if you haven’t watched it, it’s definitely worth going back and watching is so good. Yes, that one and My So Called Life they owe it to no time. Chai said Schitts Creek, always and forever. Yes. And Melissa said Bones and CSI Miami. Oh yeah, Melissa’s got a type of show she like. We’d love to hear your response to this and other questions over in our teacher approved Facebook group, or on Instagram at @2ndstorywindow and that is with the two.

In our last episode, we discussed the seven steps you need to clarify in order to plan a low stress class party. They are step one, get clear on your vision. Step two, get clear on your timeframe. Step three, get clear on your activities. Step four, get clear on parent roles. Step five, get clear on supplies. Step six, get clear on your game plan. And step seven get it all cleared up. Before we sat down to plan a class party podcast episode, I was a little puzzled about what we could possibly say. In fact, Emily, when you suggested that we do a podcast episode about class parties. I really doubted that we could fill an episode but I was right. Yes, I should never have doubted. Not only do we have enough content for an episode, but we had so much, we needed a second episode to cover it all and honestly probably could have gone for three but we’ll save that for a holiday. There we go. It really is shocking to consider how many small decisions are necessary for an hour long class party. And I have to say that seeing it all listed out was really validating. When we taught preschool our parties were pretty easy because it doesn’t take a lot to Wow, a preschooler. That is the best part about preschool. But even simple parties were still really tiring and with second grade parties, I would just always come home completely exhausted. And now I know why. It takes so much thought to create an hour or two of activities that kids will find fun without getting too hyper. And then there’s managing all the parents. It is a lot. It kind of made me miss the early days of my teaching career when I hardly had any parent volunteers and it was just me. So it’s easier sometimes. Do it yourself. Really really was not to have to coordinate with a dozen other people. For sure. I think sometimes I really did prefer to just plan the whole thing myself, and then I can run it the way I want to run it. And we aren’t planning any class parties this year. Although Emily, you might be volunteering time helping at a Halloween party.

But we thought we’d walk you through how to apply the seven clarity steps as if we were planning a classroom party. And since it’s October right now, we are going to plan a Halloween party. And you’re all invited. So Heidi, you’re going to be our party planning teacher. So let’s start with step one, get clear on your vision. What do you want to see happen at your class party? For me? The answer to that question is the same for any class party, I want my students to have a fun, memorable time, without getting wild or out of control. I just can’t handle that. And I want to minimize any frantic last minute running around. Yeah, the stress of running around can suck all the fun out of a party. I think having a party with activity stations helps make the planning a lot clearer. So I always do rotations for a class party. I like rotating through stations because I can manage them by myself, if I don’t have any parent help. I mean, a teacher already is a pro at managing students in stations and rotating through them. Because don’t we all do that anyway, pretty much every day. Now we just put a little holiday twist. But if I do have parents coming in, having them assigned stations helps make their responsibilities clear. Plus stations are a way to keep the kids engaged in an activity without having to wait to take their turn. Because you know that wait time to take a turn, that’s where your problems come from. That’s the the fun killer is the waiting time. So when it comes to dividing the class for stations, I really try to avoid more than four kids in a group, like if I can all help it. So let’s assume my imaginary class has 26 kids, now we’re gonna have to get a little creative with the math here, I could do six groups of three and two groups of four. So that would mean I would need eight stations. Or I could do six groups of four. But then I have two kids left with their own group and two kids and a group is really too few to feel like a party. That’s so true. So I could add each of those kids to a group and make four groups of four and two groups of five. But I really don’t like five kids in a group if I can help it. So I think five groups of four and two groups of three seems the best option. And I really had to kind of like sit down and map this out. So don’t feel bad, it takes you a minute to figure that out. And that would give me seven stations, it is trickier to balance than it might seem.

Okay, we’ve got our groups. So step two, get clear on your timeframe, when is your party going to be happening? So a Halloween party would be whenever the school is planning on celebrating Halloween. At my school, we always did a costume parade at the end of the day. So I need to plan around that. So our second grade lunch ended at 12:25. And then my students would go to specialty classes from 1230 to one. So that was perfect because it gave me a nice little built in chunk of time for party prep, I can prep what I need for a few minutes. And then the parents can come at 1245 to help set things up. Since the costume parade is at 2:30, and I want a buffer of time to pack up and clean up before that, so I would say that the party is going to run from one to two. So that gives me nine minute stations with my seven stations, right? So I would schedule eight minutes to do the activity, and then one minute to clean up and rotate. So we would probably finish the party part of the day around 205 which gives me a 20 minute buffer before we need to get down to the gym. And I think really an hour is the perfect length of time for a class party. Yeah, eight minutes for a station is a nice chunk of time to get into an activity but not so much time the kids are getting bored with it. I hate when I’m helping with my kids class parties. And we have longer than I expected for rotations and so the kids are getting bored or antsy and more than eight or nine minutes is about that mark. Yeah, I actually timed. I times it was like just watching like what what point are they starting to lose interest and it was about the nine minute mark. So if you can hit that you’re on track.

Okay, so what would you plan for your Halloween party? So we decided my pretend class would need seven stations. And I like to do a mix of activity types like games, crafts, food stories, and you know, some sort of STEM challenge is always fun. And then I like to alternate a more active station next to a calmer station. So station one, I’m doing a bingo game. I always do bingo. It is easy. It was fun. The kids can play multiple times in eight minutes and they’re still enjoying it. I agree that is a go to. Station two, I would do an easy craft, probably something from OTC, which we talked about in our last episode, or a kit from the craft store. I don’t like prepping crafts. So yeah, I buy those when I can, and you can buy really cheap kits. Station three, we could do some type of Minute to Win It Game Station four, we do cookie decorating, because that counts as a treat as well, win win right there. Station five, I just do some kind of fun themed coloring page, maybe making bookmarks or something easy. If I put out markers, it feels special. That’s all you need. Station six, I do a STEM activity, maybe building toothpick structures with those candy pumpkins, you’ve probably seen that. Or you know, I do have some glow in the dark magnet tiles, maybe I would bring those from home. And then they could build with them under a table or something. It kind of feels Halloween ish. Yeah. And then station seven, I would just put out my stash of Halloween books and let them read, which may not sound like a party activity. But I promise, I swear the kids really do get excited about holiday themed books, it feels special to them. It’s totally true. That station was always like one of the popular ones when I did my class parties, two witnesses right there backing that up. So those are my party activities, nothing too crazy. But it’s all stuff that the kids would enjoy. And you could run all those yourself, if you don’t have any grown up helpers. Absolutely. As adults, we really do tend to think it has to be big to be fun. And I definitely see my fellow parents coming into that mindset when they come to help with a party. You know, it’s the one thing they come in and do it each year. And they think I gotta do something big and memorable. And seriously, nine times out of 10, there’s not enough time to finish it or something goes wrong or supply runs out or a big mess gets made. And it’s extremely chaotic, honestly. And we just need to remember that it’s not true that it needs to be big to be fun. Anything out of the ordinary, like using markers to color will make any activity feel special.

So step four, let’s get clear on your parent roles. Heidi, who is going to be making this happen? So like I mentioned earlier, for a lot of years, my class parties were just run by me, or sometimes I would drag one of my roommates if they if they could get off work. So if you are in a situation where you don’t have a lot of parent helpers, just know that you can still have fun, inexpensive classroom parties. Once the dynamics of our school population changed, I had more parents available to help. So at that point, I had a room parent assigned to coordinate class parties. But I’m going to be honest that I wasn’t very good about communicating with those room parents. I just didn’t understand what was expected. And I don’t think they knew what was expected. So we were it’s tricky. Sometimes, you as the teacher feel like you don’t want to put too much on the parent, but the parent might be waiting, just happy to do whatever you ask. They just are waiting to hear from you. So it can be a tricky dynamic. That’s totally what happened. And then there were situations where it’d be like, Okay, we’re gonna do a craft and I had bought some little craft kits from Oriental Trading a little foam sticker, easy things. But the mom had brought in something that like needs a glue gun. And yeah, so we’re frantically trying to put pieces together and find enough glue guns, and I just wasn’t very good at communicating. So you have to balance kind of what the parents might want or need, especially if they have big ideas about things they’ve seen online, with how that is actually going to play out in the classroom. And if you can approach your room parent with a clear outline of what you need, things are going to run much more smoothly for everyone. Yeah, I have helped with my kids class parties now for years, I’m helping it at least one if not multiple, every school year. And I almost always wished that we had more guidance from the teacher and really clear guidelines about how long the station is going to be a lot of times we aren’t given that information where we’re going to be having this so I know am I going to be in the hall, I’m like going to be at a table, that kind of thing. Like, I think the more guidelines you can set, the better everyone will feel about the whole thing because they’ll know exactly how to plan and our expectations we’ll all be hopefully on the same page.

So that brings us to step five, let’s get clear on supplies. What do you need to make this party happen, Heidi? So having a list of exactly what you need will just help everyone, I would definitely use some sort of system like sign up genius. This will allow parents to contribute to the party even if they aren’t able to volunteer their time. So even if you’re letting your parent helpers do what they want with the party planning, I would make sure to coordinate any food plans they have. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with four dozen donuts, fruit and veggie platters and six bottles of soda. And as the teacher you know that the kids are only going to eat a tiny fraction of that. The key is just to be clear about what you need and then having that written down in an email or a signup site is just going to make it easier for everyone involved. And the nice thing about this signup is you can include supplies that parents can sign up to bring or send in, even if they can’t come in and volunteer. So this is a good way to include all of the grownups that want to be involved, who maybe can’t always take time to come be in the classroom.

Now we’re on to the big day. Step six, get clear on your game plan, how are you making this happen? So I would start at least the day in advance by making sure I know where each station is going to go. And as Emily mentioned, and I didn’t even think of this until she mentioned it, like letting the parents know ahead of time, what kind of area they’re going to be in, will be helpful for their plans. But you know, that would also mean I need to clear up all the surfaces. So start that in advance, your future self will thank you. On the day of, I like to give my second graders a fun Halloween work packet in the morning that they can leave on their desk all day. And again, if you’ve never done that with your kids won’t be like a packet of worksheets. But something about like worksheets with Halloween clipart. Like this is fun. I think also, if you don’t do a ton of worksheets the rest of the time than when you do a fun themed worksheet packet, they seem pretty fun because your kids aren’t doing a ton of worksheets the rest of the time. And they also let them like pick and choose which pages to do first. And so like having that choice made it seem even more special. Yeah, but I purposely didn’t give them time to finish it so that they could just leave on their desk all day. And that was my fast finisher, for any stations that finished early. So if a kids are at a station and the game finishes, or they’re done with their craft or whatever, they just go back to their desk and work for a minute or two till the timer goes. So like I mentioned before, I have time to set up the party from 1230 to one, it just worked out that my planning time works really well for class parties. If you don’t have that time, you might have to get creative. So when the kids get back from library or where they were special they have that day, I can explain to everyone the kids and the parents have the rotations will work. I would announce the groups and then send each group to a station and start the first rotation. And if like a student had their parent there volunteering, I’d like to, you know, send them to their parents station first. And then I project my countdown timer. So everyone knows how much time is left. Oh, that’s such a good tip. As a parent, I would love that. And then you know, I’d put on some background music. And then if I’m not helping run a station, I’d be moving around the room keeping an eye on my more rascally kids, and then helping manage any hiccups, you know, run in for any last minute supplies or paper towels or whatever. And then when the timer beeps, I reset it for one minute. The kids at station can clean up and then I would have them stand and look at me. And I taught them this ahead of time that that’s the signal that they’re ready to rotate. It’s easy for me to see like quickly scan and be like, okay, all the groups are standing up and looking at me. And then when all the groups are ready, I make sure everyone knows which way to rotate. You think it would be obvious, but it is not. And we just started all again.

So now you’re finally done with rotations. It’s time for step seven get cleared up. How do you recover from what just happened? I think the most important thing to do at a party that’s happening near the end of the day, is to get the kids packed up before you deal with anything else. You know, the kids aren’t gonna be stacking their chairs or anything, but they can get their backpacks and jackets and I can hand out anything that needs to go home. And then I’d have them sit at their seats and watch a short video, you know, think Charlie Brown’s Halloween or I was just looking at Amazon Prime and they have If You Give a Mouse a Pumpkin and that is only 20 minutes, perfect. Kids with end of the day classroom jobs like sharpening pencils can still do that while the movie is going. So we’re not leaving the room in total chaos for tomorrow. And I try and prep the parent volunteers about all this ahead of time, so they know what’s going on. So they’re not like trying to get out the door while I’m trying to get the kids packed up. And then once the kids are engaged, the rest of the adults can finish cleaning everything up. And then at 225 we can all head down to the gym for the costume parade.

That sounds like a super fun party. And I’m exhausted just thinking about it. So Goldstar to all of you teachers who are pulling these off this year. Yes, hopefully you can use this example that we’ve shared to help you as you plan your Halloween party if you are having one or any upcoming parties you may have. And we’d love to hear all about your party’s over in our teacher approved Facebook group.

Now let’s talk about this week’s teacher approved tip. Each week we leave you with a small actionable tip that you can apply in your classroom today. This week’s teacher approved tip is assign photography as one of your class party jobs. Heidi, will you tell us about this? Sure. So if you are at a school that lets you take photos of the kids, and you’re going to want something for like a slideshow at the end of the year, have one of your parent volunteer tasks be to come be the party photographer. I think for a lot of parents who maybe don’t want to help run an activity like this would be ideal. And if you don’t have enough volunteers that you can have someone do that, or you need something to do during the party, you can make yourself the class photographer. I love this idea so much, because I think a lot of times you have more parent volunteers that want to help, then you have the need for in some places, or you have parents who just want some other something else to do that isn’t just the typical activity. So I love this idea of giving a different sort of job that they can help with and still come be in the classroom. And also, you’ll have all those great pictures that you want and that you may intend to take. And sometimes you get distracted while you were helping with things and you don’t get a chance to take any pictures. So it would be nice to know that a parent helper is helping get all those pictures taken. So that is such a great tip. Yeah, take one more thing off your plate.

To wrap up the show, we’re sharing what we are giving extra credit to this week. Heidi, what are you giving extra credit to? I am giving extra credit to the National Days. They’re kind of like unofficial holidays. I just I just love a quirky holiday and it makes me so happy. I actually follow an account on Instagram called NAT de cow. And they give you whatever the days National Days are. So for today that we’re recording, it’s national sweetest day, come on. National, I Love Lucy day. Also national grouch day, and I feel like those two things shouldn’t maybe be together. So it’s just fun. There’s serious ones. There’s funny ones. There’s lots of food based ones. I know sometimes, like if I’m in a rut, I like to like look ahead at what’s coming up on the calendar and plan some fun, like, Oh, we’re gonna celebrate all these little quirky holidays. So it’s just Is this fun? And I think we could all use some fun. Yes, I love that. Emily, what are you giving extra credit to this week? I’m giving extra credit to the Acorn books from Scholastic. I don’t know these. There are several different series of books that are designed to engage growing reader. So they all on the cover have a little icon showing that they’re an acorn. Oh, that’s fine. And my youngest daughter is just starting to get confident in her reading. And these acorn books have been some really great options for her. We really liked the Frog Meets Dog series. That’s the one she’s been reading this week. Is that what she was reading? That was a cute book. I’m not actually sure if that’s what she was reading about you. But it’s a cute series. And her first grade class is having a 500 book challenge where each student is trying to read 500 books. And I have a child that is motivated by competition and prizes. And there’s a trophy involved, which she’s very motivated for even though I’ve tried to manage your expectations that this is going to be a very small trophy. Anyways, the Acorn books have helped because she really wants to be able to read the majority of the books and not just have books that I read to her for this 500 book challenge. So Acorn books from Scholastic we’ll put a link in the show notes. Maybe we need to get her a trophy either way.

That’s it for today’s episode, use our seven steps to help you plan your class Halloween party, and make sure to let us know how it goes. And don’t forget today’s teacher approved tip to make photography one of your parent helper jobs.

More About Teacher Approved:

Do you ever feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to be the kind of teacher you really want to be? The Teacher Approved podcast is here to help you learn how to elevate what matters and simplify the rest. Join co-hosts Emily and Heidi of Second Story Window each week as they share research-based and teacher-approved strategies you can count on to make your teaching more efficient and effective than ever before.