Attractions & things to do for the kids in your life

TOP-10 tips for successful SCHOOL fairs

For parents | TOP fun lists

School_fair_ideas_Amusement_park_theme_torontofunplaces.comSchool fair and square fun

Are you one of those parents helping with the school's fair? I was. In our school, we went for the "end-of-the-year" party in June instead of the Spring Fair but the logistics remains the same. I loved organizing the activities. Some would serve to raise money, most were just for family fun. We tried to offer something for everyone: active kids, artsy kids, pre-schoolers, big kids. 

I have put together a Pinterest board of suggestions called School Fair & Party & Fundraising which I hope will inspire you. I've added comments whenever I would have an idea on how to use the idea and in what context. School fairs or parties are lots of work but there are ways to make them easier to manage, therefore more fun for the volunteers. The best activities are not necessarily the most complex or expensive.

Nathalie's TOP-10 tips for successful School Fairs

• Define success: Define what is a "successful" fair for you. In our school, the goal was to end the school year with a bang, create great memories for the kids and make kids and parents proud of being part of this school. If we could raise a bit of money at the same time, bonus. 

• Find a theme: Having a theme helped to create ambiance and to choose activities. I recommend visiting a party supply place such as Party City (formerly Party Packagers). I would always do that before deciding on a theme to propose to our school council. One item would usually catch my attention and a theme would pop up. The year we chose the Medieval theme, the big rolls of plastic caught my fancy. I saw how easy it would be to create medieval tunics for every kid out of them at minimal cost. One year, a good deal on bubble soap led us to create a Water theme.

• Use parents (teachers of principal) for specific projects: Many parents don't want to commit to the school council but would be more than happy to take over a specific project using their unique skills. All you need to do, if you have one of those crazy ideas, if to communicate with the parents what you would like to do to see if anyone has the skills. For example: a year that we had a Sports theme, we wanted to create a mini golf course. One parent (a prof at university) took over and created the cutest 3-holes mini-putt activity. For the Circus theme, a parent who was also a props artist created cut out boards for us. For the Medieval theme, we turned our principal into a king who knighted kids who would kneel before him.• Create an event: At our school funds were limited so we came up with ideas that would offer arts activities during the school time (something that would help teachers comply with the arts part of the curriculum) which would result in something we could use to create an event during the fair. For example, one year we chose a Carnival theme. We paid an artist to give arts workshops to each class (with the help of volunteer parents) to create banners, flags and papier maché structures the kids showed off in a carnival-like parade for the parents to officially launch the party. Another year, we had a Medieval theme and with the help of a very willing special ed. teacher with his students, we created a giant dragon in papier maché to display during the fair. When we had a Circus theme, we paid for an artist to give kids poster making workshops. We exhibited the works and asked people to vote.

• Include a collective activity: If you provide material for a collective activity and start it up before the party, people will follow. We've found it helps parents "brake the ice" and chat together. One year, we suggested people decorate the link fence, weaving ribbons of all colours. Kids were able to admire the result until the last day of school. Check this Pinterest board of School collective artsy projects.

• Rent an inflatable structure: Inflatable structures are to a fair what hotel pools are to a family road trip. Whatever the rest of the activities, kids WILL remember the fun they had jumping with their friends. That's why we always had one of these and we never charged a fee to use them.

• Concentrate the activities: We had a huge school yard and made the mistake of spreading the activities all over the yard, which resulted in the fair looking empty! The next year, we had the same number of activity stations but installed them in the prettiest section of the yard. It increase the ambiance tenfolds.

• Have a Plan B for rainy days: Know how to rearrange everything in case of rain. Twice in eight years, we had to do the party inside. We used up the auditorium, the gym and the corridors of the first floor and it all worked as planned.

• Special fun food or drink: Our best hit was the year we sold old fashioned floaters (ice cream in cream soda). We always organized a pot-luck with the parents but would also sell a few items at affordable prices. I've even heard of a father who brought his cappuccino machine to such an event and prepared cappuccinos for a fee which was all given pack to the school. He had a ball playing barista, many parents were happy to get their caffeine fix and the school raised funds. Hey! Whatever works.

• Gift basket raffle: We asked each classroom to create a gift basket with small items donated by the students' family (a specific theme for each classroom). We would then sell raffle tickets during the party. We saw that kids were really proud of their baskets.



Buy the book Toronto Street Art Strolls

Nathalie's tips for a smooth outing

After years of doing all kinds of outings with my children, I can assure you the secret to a perfect outing lies in the details, not the destination.


facebook logopinterest logotwitter-logo-62instagram logo

Subscribe to our newsletter

A post shared by Nathalie Prézeau (@torontourbanstrolls) on