Education Through Entertainment

School Assembly Guide Chapter 22 – Holidays and Special Occasions

Posted on Fri, Aug 2, 2013

school assembly events2 resized 600The school year contains many special occasions. This we all know. Some are once in a lifetime festivities such as the closing of an older but still beloved building, or the grand opening of a new addition. Others are events that roll around with the calendar every year. Livening up these activities with a great school assembly can be a wonderful idea! But it is best to really plan ahead. Book early! Try to understand that those of us who create school shows can usually only be in one place at a time! If you think it would be a great idea to have, say, Abraham Lincoln on his birthday, be ready to learn you are not the first person to think of this. Though there are many Abraham Lincoln presenters in this wide country, they can only be in so many schools on the same day!

So, to assist you in thinking ahead, here are some of the ideas for school shows to commemorate special occasions.

Let's start with the easy ones, the holidays that come around every year.

abraham lincoln school showSince we already mentioned him, let's think about Abraham Lincoln, along with his fellow president George Washington. These are perennial favorites. Every February elementary schools all over the country teach their kids about Lincoln and Washington. Go into almost any school during February and you will see pictures of these two men adorning the walls of hallways throughout the building. There is no better way to celebrate Presidents Month than with a visit from an impersonator performing an awesome rendition of one of these great men. But if you really want to have one of them on their actual birthday (Lincoln's birthday is February 12 and Washington's is February 22) then you better make your booking a year in advance. These two days for these two shows always fill in quickly. Every year we receive countless inquiries from schools wanting those dates, only to be disappointed to learn someone has beaten them to the punch. But if you are late, be comforted by the fact that kids are fine if the visit falls not on the birthday itself, but sometime in February or even in January. Of course, some of us think anytime is a great time for a visit from Mr. Lincoln!

martin luther king school showEqually in demand is something for either Black History Month (also February!) or to celebrate Martin Luther King Day in January. Martin Luther King's birthday falls on January 15, though the holiday itself is often celebrated on a close Monday. Plan for a visit from a Martin Luther King program as early as you would for Mr. Lincoln or Washington. And just as in the case of the two presidents, having the assembly sometime in January is plenty good enough. Still, a Martin Luther King school show also functions well as a way of marking Black History Month in February, so there are other dates that work well, too. But for Black History Month there are many great options available. School assemblies and shows can be found that deal with several great African Americans including Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman and lots and lots more. Your proximity to a major market, such as New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, will improve your likelihood of finding a greater variety from which to choose.

ben franklin school showAnd don't forget, if your goal is just to find something pertinent with which to kick off the year, another great American was born in January. Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, so a school assembly about good old Ben works very well around that time. Of course, Ben was such a wonderful character that his visit can occur almost anytime with great affect.

Now let us move along to some other “special” months.

Let's look at the beginning of the school year.

September, or in some cases, August, as the school year kicks off, can be a super time to establish some ground rules for how students at your school are expected to behave throughout the coming months and, for that matter, at all times. Recently, schools all over the country have recognized the importance of teaching kids about the downside of bullying and drawing attention to this insidious scourge. Anti bullying shows now abound. The better ones draw from the work done by such stalwart researchers as the Olweus group and famed New York child psychiatrist Izzy Kalman (Bullies to Buddies). Our Stronger Than a Bully and The No Bully Zone follow these leaders. But others, mostly comprised of entertainers wishing to cash in on the latest gimmick, may have simply taken their own particular talent (magicians are common, though ventriloquists, skate boarders, rope twirlers and yo-yo guys have also climbed on the bandwagon) and come up with a few choice “key words” with which to turn their tired “act” into “the worlds best bullying show!” Beware. Get references. And be prepared to book early, as dates for shows in late August and September fill in just as quickly as do those for Lincoln in February or Martin Luther King in January. If you want one of the good shows, and you want September, book early. And if you are unable to locate a good date for an anti bullying program you might consider something in a similar vein. Character Counts (and the Six Pillars of Wisdom) has been encouraging upstanding behavior from kids for years and is very effective. Shows like our Inspector Iwannano are great for getting this message across.

bullying school showRed Ribbon Week takes place in October and is a sought after time for assemblies that emphasize education and awareness about drugs and alcohol. Plenty of good local presenters should be available for this week in particular, ranging from local police to local hospitals who may offer outreach programs of this nature with no cost to you. October also leads up to Halloween. Many magical programs have been developed around the “spooky, scary” side of October, mostly dealing with cool magic shows. But if you are one of the schools unable to celebrate the purely fun aspects of the day, for whatever reason, or if you simply prefer something more educational, October is a sweet time to visit a planetarium or have a mobile planetarium like our Sky Dome visit you. If there is one night of the year when kids are guaranteed to be outside at night it is Halloween. Following a visit to or from a planetarium, they just might remember to look up and think about what they learned.

native american school showsNovember is all about the Fall and about the lead up to Thanksgiving. Traditionally November has been the time to learn about the Pilgrims. But recently, November has broadened into a time when many schools try to teach students about our Native American heritage in general so anything on this topic is welcome, including our awesome Piankeshaw Trails, featuring an in depth focus on the Woodland Indian Tribes of the Ohio Valley.

And don't forget this.... Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, giving everyone a super long weekend. Those 2 or 3 days just before Thanksgiving provide one of the best times in the year to host some kind of assembly. Just before a holiday kids go a little ballistic. You know they do. They know the holiday is coming and the excitement overwhelms them. It makes it really tough for teachers to accomplish much in class that week. But it is perfect for hosting an assembly!

December can be a problem. Obviously it is a shortened month because of Christmas, Hanukah and the winter break. For non public, parochial and religious schools the easy answer is to schedule events that have to do with the holiday itself and its significance. For public schools this is a little trickier. In public schools it has become difficult to stage anything that involves any religious significance at all. Even jolly old St. Nick is off limits in many places. So, finding the right show or enrichment activity for December can be really tough. We have found that many schools had had success by falling back on a planetarium visit. Contemplating the stars may be as close to spirituality as we are now allowed to be in our brave, new, secular world.

March is Women's History Month. Did you know that? And that makes a perfect reason to have in an assembly dealing with famous women such as They Made a Difference, The Spirit to Overcome, or any of the several great Harriett Tubman performers touring different regions of the country.

earth day school assembliesAnother popular “theme” month for school assemblies is April. Why? Earth Month of course! It used to be Earth Day, but that has now expanded to fill the entire month. A school show like The Earth Dome (also known as The Earth Balloon), or anything to do with ecology and the environment, such as our Animals and the Environment or Our Changing Climate, is perfect. Many others dealing with different aspects of the environment, ecology, ecosystems and so on are also appropriate and may be easily located.

And then there are the various weeks that abound throughout the schedule, according to what your particular school celebrates. We already discussed red Ribbon Week. Right to Read Week is another annual event in many schools, though the date for this event varies widely according to state and district. Whenever your Right to Read Week is scheduled to occur, that week makes an excellent time to invite an author to visit, or to host an assembly such as Reading: More Than Words, or Young Authors Day. Parochial school have something to celebrate in late January with Catholic School Week and Lutheran Schools Week. Both are excellent times to augment the festivities with some kind of exciting school show.

Finally, there are the minor holidays, the ones not celebrated everywhere. Some schools like something for Veterans Day (November), while other (particularly on the East Coast) may want to celebrate Columbus Day (October).Every school is different when we start looking at all of the more minor celebrations and holidays throughout the calendar. You will need to learn which are the important themes and events your school values, and tailor your choices to fit.

So you see that the calandar is full of good reasons to host an appropriate school show event. Regardless of which days, weeks or months you select, just remember this … when you go looking for any specific show for a specific date or month, you severely narrow the likelihood of finding that articular show available. Dates fill in quickly. If you know you are going to need a particular show on a particular date, book early. The earlier the better. Otherwise, you run the risk of settling for leftovers or nothing at all.




Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of sciencehistorywritingastronomynatural sciencemathematicscharacter issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN. He also spent ten years coordinating assembly programs for the elementary school where his own children went to school.

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Topics: Earth Day School Assembly, bullying school assembly, ideas for school assemblies, Black history school assembly