It's nearly that time of year! No, not spring training. It's the time of year when students get a little more fidgety and teachers and students can sense the onset of spring and the end of the school year. It is the time of year where classrooms around the country get to put their best foot forward and showcase the many accomplishments and projects from throughout the year. It is Open House season! Open House is an exciting time for students to show off all their hard work for their families to see. It can also be a little stressful‚ but it doesn't have to be.

Here are some tips for teachers, new and experienced, that will help make the planning easier and the Open House a memorable one.

Tip # 1: Create a Theme

When you create a theme for Open House, you have an anchor for your lessons, assignments, and projects. For example, if Open House falls around Earth Day, then integrate Earth Day themed lessons into each of your subject areas. Make a list of each subject area and then list an activity from the theme that would fit with that subject area. If using an Earth Day theme, for language arts students can read Earth Day themed stories or articles and write summaries or opinions based on the information they read. They can then create posters focused on the importance of protecting the Earth. In math, students can do recycling surveys and create graphs to represent the information they gathered. In science, students can learn about the process of recycling and create flow charts to show this process. There are really endless ideas, and a quick search of the web will give a teacher many ideas from which to choose.

Tip # 2: Work as a Team

If you have a grade level team, plan and teach together. Every teacher has an expertise that can be utilized for Open House planning. Share the load by rotating classes through activities, and have one teacher teach all the science lessons, one teacher teach the math lessons, and one teacher teach the language arts lessons. When you share the load, you will really be able to go all out with your planning and create some amazing lessons and experiences for the students!

Tip # 3: Make the Students Tour Guides

Students are always so proud of their work and love to show it off to their families. Label the areas of the room that will contain student work for the evening and have students take their parents around to each area. Provide a checklist for students so that they make sure they cover everything. This is especially helpful for younger students. Even TK and Kinder students can do this by using picture labels to guide their way. Make sure to have the students practice taking classmates on the tour so they are expert guides by the time their families arrive.

Tip # 4: Create a Photo Slide Show

Families love seeing pictures of their children. There is and never will be enough space on the walls for all the student work and projects a teacher wants to display. Here is the fix. Take pictures of the student work and of students doing their work and create a simple slide show that families can watch as they visit the classroom. If you have the means, you can provide a copy of the CD to families as an end of the year gift or send it to them digitally.

Tip # 5: Start Now

Start now by doing one activity a week. Once you have your basic plan, make a simple outline or map that you can check on as Open House approaches. Clear off your bulletin boards and put the labels on them that you will use for Open House. As you complete an activity, place the student work in the area where you will showcase it. When students see these boards fill up, their excitement will build. Before you know it, your walls will be filled with wonderful and meaningful student work that each and every student will be excited to share with their families.

These five tips will help any teacher prepare for a successful Open House. Pick one, two, or even all five to use as you plan and prepare for the evening. You will be amazed at how ready you, your class, and your classroom will be for a successful and memorable Open House!