A festival or celebration is simply a collection of activities, displays, and presentations with a common theme. It can be as small and simple as a hallway bulletin board that showcases the students’ projects. Or, it can be as big and complex as a community-wide “fun day” with activities, celebrity performers, VIPs, and your students’ projects proudly displayed.
It might include:
- Opening remarks by a local celebrity.
- A professional concert, keynote speaker, or show.
- Games, contests, prizes for festival-goers, and awards.
- Booths, displays, exhibits, and projects.
- Presentations such as music, drama, and puppet shows by students or entertainers.
- Films, slide shows, and other presentations by students.
Basic Organizing Tips
Here are simple guidelines to make this activity productive and manageable:
- Celebrate wildlife all year long. This unit can be used throughout the year. Consider linking it with other events such as National Wildlife Week, Oceans Day, or International Migratory Bird Day. Students then have time to prepare for a culminating event.
- Link with an existing, established event at your school, such as a field day, barbecue, assembly, class party, or a year-end event and apply your theme to it.
- Keep things simple. Start small. Build the event around the schoolwork the students have already done, and stick to the theme.
- Divide up the work. From your available “work force” of students, create different teams to carry out the planning, execution, and follow-up tasks listed below.
- Let the students do the work of organizing the festival and carrying it off. They will learn more by doing it themselves, with you acting as a guide. It helps if you:
- Identify keen, well-organized, and reliable older students who can take on leadership roles. Whether or not you formally designate them as such, these people will be your best team leaders and should be split among the teams. Scale your event to the leadership capability at hand.
- Make sure that all students have an important role to play on at least one of the teams.
- For larger events (school-wide or communitywide), try to have an adult advisor (parent or teacher) available to each team.
- Plan to be outside but with a contingency plan for foul weather.
- Reward your organizers with a pizza party or similar post-event celebration.
Dividing Up the Work — Two Approaches
A Small Event: Thinking about organizing an event for your own class? Even if you invite parents and other students to participate, it is simplest to make each student or group of students responsible for planning, setting up, hosting, and taking down their own display, activity, or presentation. Even so, you may find it worthwhile to set up some specialized teams to promote the event, decorate, dispense refreshments, act as hosts, and assign space to individual presenters. Some useful job descriptions are offered in the next section, but keep it simple.
A Large Event: The key to getting the most out of this activity is dividing up the work and, if this will be a school-wide event, assigning leadership responsibility to key older children. Below, we briefly describe the jobs that must be done in the planning, executing, and follow-up phases of a larger event. Obviously, you will need excellent communication between teams. Each student should have a job for each phase.
- Overall Lead or Chair: Keeps an eye on the big picture and checks in regularly with each team to make sure they are getting their jobs done on schedule.
- Funding and Financing Team: Raises money. Keeps track of the costs and financial needs.
- Program and Exhibit Team: Identifies activities for the event, such as displays. Contacts presenters, books them, identifies their equipment and space needs, introduces them, and schedules events.
- Space and Logistical Support Team: Looks after activities such as booking the venue, allocating space, acquiring audio-visual equipment and tables. Can also direct set-up and take-down for the event.
- Decorating Team: Plans decorations and puts them up before the event.
- Refreshment Team: Plans for and orders refreshments.Publicity, Promotion, and Media Team: Identifies potential audiences and gets the word out to them that the event is coming. Can also contact local media to solicit coverage of the event.
- Master of Ceremonies: One or more people may introduce special presenters and make announcements during the event.
- Presenters: Many students, perhaps all, will be hosting kiosks and displays, doing special presentations, or running tours or displays.
- Audio-visual support: You may need people to set up audio-visual equipment and keep it working.
- Refreshments: A friendly team here will keep festival-goers happy.
- Parking and Directions: For a larger event, you’ll need people to keep traffic moving.
- Cleanup Crew: Appoint a few “crew leaders” and involve everyone. Share the workload on this less glamorous task.
- Thank-you Crew: A few people should make sure that all who sponsored or supported the event receive a “thank you.”
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