By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant
Every spring all over the world, schools are preparing to put on a Field Day for their students. When done well, Field Days can be an active and fun time for everyone. In this blog, I’ll give those in charge of Field Day some tips to make it successful.
- Plan well in advance (6-8 weeks minimum). You will need to get approval, get the word out, create materials (e.g. T-shirts, etc.) communicate with staff, volunteers, parents and students about the event.
- It takes a lot of minds and bodies to put together a successful Field Day. Call for parents and teachers to create a committee to bring ideas, additional volunteers, resources for donations, etc.
- Invite all parents and community members for their input on making it a fun day for all. Be sure everyone who wants to be involved knows about the meetings.
- Decide what you need volunteers to do before, during, and after the Field Day (e.g. lead activities, escort students to the bathroom, set-up, take-down, deliver water and supplies, etc.). Use a web sign-up to make it easy for them to choose the tasks they are willing to do and the time slots they can be there for. Examples of these are SignUpGenius and SignUp. Best to have two volunteers per activity so they can support one another. Have a paper version in the front office for folks who are unable to use the web options.
- Come up with a Field Day theme to pull it all together.
- Plan the activities with the goals of fun and activity in mind. Keep them simple and age-appropriate.
- When considering activity ideas, be line conscious: Don’t have kids stand in line for long. A field day should be full of fun and action, not standing around watching others.
- Listen to feedback for past Field Days. Keep the things that worked and ditch those that didn’t.
- Consider breaking up the day with a K-2 Field Day in the morning and a 3-5 one in the afternoon.
- Include water games (if your climate allows). Kids go nuts over these and they are typically a smash hit. Plan to have these near the hose.
- Think of unique activities that are cooperative in nature, rather than competitive. Have a good mix of activity types.
- Don’t focus on awards for the “winners.” Field Days are more fun when the focus is on participation, not who was 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
- Be prepared to adapt activities where necessary to enable all students with disabilities to participate and have fun.
- Schedule the day to include breaks, rotation, activity names, etc.
- Create a map to show where each activity will be at the school.
- Ask for volunteers to photograph the activities and to share photos with parents and teachers.
- Coordinate classes to create signs for each station.
- Provide ideas for healthy snacks to serve during Field Day. See if you can help find a donor from a local grocery store or restaurant.
- Include the school’s nurse or health aide to create a first aid station.
- The day before, remind children of the importance of being well-rested and fed, and to be dressed for action and fun. Them bringing a towel and change of clothes is also a great idea.
The Day of:
- Have volunteers set up as much as possible the night before.
- Have a final meeting with all volunteers prior to the start to cover the main goals of the day and details about safety.
- Have a large group “Welcome” to Field Day and discuss the rotation and the goals of the Field Day. The focus is on fun and safety. Announce the location of the first aid station.
- A lot can happen that varies from the plan. It’s OK to adapt and go with the flow, if necessary.
- Provide enough equipment to maximize participation so lines are short or non-existent.
- Include breaks for volunteers every 90 minutes or so.
- For students who are physically unable to participate (injuries, etc.), provide them with a safe task to keep them involved.
- Work to ensure all children are having a good time. You should see lots of smiles!
- Prompt volunteers to keep their eyes and ears open (no holding cell phones!) and to catch and stop any inappropriate behavior quickly.
Post Field Day:
- Clean and dry all equipment and store for next year’s Field Day.
- Send out a survey for volunteers to give feedback on their experience. Which activities worked? Which didn’t? Why?
- Send thank you notes to those who volunteered and donated their time and goods.
The keys to a fabulous and fun Field Day are preparation and a focus on fun. It should be a safe and enjoyable day for all!