How to Organize a Successful “Arts Night” for Parents and Students

A few years ago, in an effort to bolster excitement in the arts, the specialist team and I designed and created an “Arts Night” for parents and students.  What started as a simple idea one morning in our PLC meeting, quickly spiraled into what is now a building tradition.  Everyone played a role in developing this event, which is why it was so successful and my principal was very supportive as well.  In a nutshell, here is what to do:

1. Decide on a grade level.  We selected 3rd grade because this grade seemed to have less school events and performances than the other grades.  We checked the district schedule to make sure there wasn’t another activity scheduled for the same time (girl scouts, basketball, chess club, etc.)

2. Create a schedule.  Parents are not going to want to be at school for hours on end, especially after a long day at work.  In order to keep the event moving, we came up with the schedule listed below.  We met in the library briefly to give introductions and pass out the schedules.  Our principal signaled transitions between classrooms via the speaker system and we wrapped up in the library for a story and treats.

3. Design your curriculum.  Each subject designed a 20 minute mini-lesson that touched on program highlights, gave students a chance to demonstrate their learning and involved parents.  My mini-lesson focused on printmaking.  We used Styrofoam plates that students had created in class.  I presented a quick PowerPoint presentation followed by time for students to teach their parents how to print.  Students used white ink on black paper that they would add color to the next class period, so there was only one ink color and one paper color to choose from.  Keep it simple!

4. Market your event.  We sent home flyers and talked to students in class to prepare them for the upcoming “Arts Night.”  The event was on the school calendar, classroom and specialist web pages, and on the school announcements.  I would recommend including an RSVP portion on the flyer to make sure the information was received and increase accountability.  Also, consider how you want to address siblings.  We politely made it clear that “Arts Night” was intended for 3rd graders only and that no child care would be provided.  Depending on the climate of your school, you could try a family night or have older students provide child care instead.

5. Enjoy!  This was truly a wonderful experience.  I happened to be at a brand new school the year we piloted “Arts Night” and it was fun to help develop a positive and open school culture.  Inviting parents into your classroom and demonstrating learning is an invaluable advocacy piece for your program.  The “buzzing” excitement from your students is translated to their parents and beyond!

Looking for another creative way to involve parents?  Check out Chelsie’s article on Silent Auctions!

I know many of you host something similar. 

What tips do you have for creating a successful night?



Heather Crockett

Heather is AOE’s Project Manager and an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment. She is a veteran teacher in the art room and at the graduate level.


  • I really like the Power Point slide of the Printmaking Process. What a great way to allow everyone to learn at their own pace, follow the directions and try something new. I could see making these slides for every artistic process and using them in a variety of ways throughout the year. 

  • Joycedorian

    I do  very large art show. One of the things I do, which adds a huge depth, but isn;t really alot of work – I take picures all year long – and put them together in a powerpoint and show this in a few different places during the artshow. They TST at my school takes care of this and the parents love it.

  • Nana Bee

    My classes studied quilting as part of their mountain heritage.  Creating a quilt trail of different blocks  through the school, parents were given a “map” to follow from block to block.  At each block a student was stationed with stickers to put on the maps as parents visited each one.  The trail ends up in  the art room where we have refreshments and everyone who has a sticker for every block on the trail gets to have their name put in a drawing for quilted potholders that the students have made/  

  • MWArt

    For the past 5 years we have done something very similiar but call it “Evening with the Arts”. It has been extremely sucessful. This evening involves all of the specialist. Families are divided into four groups and they travel from gym, computers, music, and art. Unfortunately, the librarian has not been able to join us.
    The groups are divided (as evenly as possible) based on the color handout they get. The color determines which specialist that group starts with.
    Each specialist does a 15 minute project, the principle make the announcement and the groups move to the next specialist.
    We also do a t-shirt contest and sell t-shirts to make money to buy supplies for the following year. At the end of the night one kid from each group wins a t-shirt. We put a sticker on  four of the fliers they get when they arrive. One sticker per color.
     It is an exhauting evening but everyone has a lot of fun. My biggest suggestion to anyone thinking about doing something like this is to keep things simple and with art keep it easy to clean up!
     Up until now we have all done our own things but this year we are creating a theme that will carry through all the specialists.