BY Susan Gubbins

Marguerite E. Small Elementary School

Project Description
We would like to create a night out for Dads (Grandpa’s, Uncles) and their preschool children to connect, create and bond over a fun shared activity. This year we would like to present a camp-out! We will fill the cafeteria with tents, pretend campfires and outdoor fun! We will make matching fish print t-shirts with real fish, we will make bugs with modeling clay and collage materials, make shadow puppets with flashlights and overhead projectors, make a campfire with blocks and pretend s’mores with cotton balls and foam crackers. We will make pretend burgers and hotdogs with play-dough, take pictures and write a story about a pretend camping trip, make a telescope to look at the stars, fish in a pond and read in tents together. We will provide dinner and dessert (real s’mores with fluff and spreadable chocolate) and then Mr. Riley, our principal, will read a bedtime story to the children and their Dad’s

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)
We will take pictures and ask families to fill out an evaluation. Here are some comments from last year’s Dad and Me night funded by the Educational Foundation;

‘I really felt my child benefitted from the social interaction. It was real nice to meet some of the other parents, it gave me a feel of connection to our community,”
‘It was great to see the staff in a more playful setting and share the fun experiences with peers.’
‘It was fun to see my child’s school and he was so proud to show me around. We had so much fun and I’m looking forward to the next Dad and Me event.’
‘Please pass along thanks to all involved in last night’s events, I know a lot went into it. My child did not stop talking about the fun he had until he fell asleep. That is community building, not just a fun night for kids!’

Benefit to the students and the school

When we have events at school, the mothers usually are the ones to attend. We found that when we target the fathers, they feel welcomed and comfortable coming to an event designed for them. Some fathers don’t feel comfortable coming to school events, some fathers don’t feel comfortable being at events with their child’s mother, this gives Dads a special night with their child. I had a boy who still talked about the camp-out with his Dad two years after the event, it clearly had a huge impact on this boy. When more families are involved, when we create a welcoming environment, when we develop lasting positive relationships than our children and families thrive.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)
The camp-out will take place on an evening in May in our school cafeteria.