Presentation Night


by Barb Shelton



I actually wrote the following

for the benefit of our local homeschool group, but there are many ideas to be

gleaned from it for those not part

of our group!  So if you want to

participate in ours, please feel free to

move to the area!  



Homeschool Presentation Night is the "Big Event" of the year, the culmination of our school year, group-wise and individually. We invite grandparents, friends and relatives and have an evening filled with a variety of special presentations.  All the families who have been involved in the group have the opportunity to share their talents, projects, photos, presentations, etc. at the end of the year!  Parents have given certificates, roses, and award ribbons to their children for progress in academics and other skills; children perform short pieces on instruments, sing or lip-sync songs, do short skits (with simple costumes), The more creativity, diversity, and variety the better!  


To participate in this event, you need to be a member and have been to at least a few (three or four) meetings through the year. We want this to be something that we as a somewhat cohesive group present to our relatives and friends. (And each other, of course!)  There is much work involved in putting an event like this together, so we feel that those participating ~ which is a privilege ~ need to be part of the work aspect ~ responsibility ~ of making it happen.


There are two aspects of this evening: table presentations and presentations in front of the group.  First I'll explain the table presentations... 





One aspect of Homeschool Presentation Night where each family has their own table, set up in a large room (like a fellowship hall) around the outside edge of it.  Each family, on their own table, displays whatever projects, creations, schoolish work, photos of kids and parents doing the stuff, portraits, experiments, reports, favorite books, awards ~ *whatever* they want to show. Avocado seed and potato plants are easy and impressive, especially if started early in the school year.   :-)   Each family ~ a child or parent ~ can make up large signs of their last name to mount over their table. These can be done by hand or by computer.  Ones made by the children themselves are the most charming, I think.  Guests and members of our group walk around and peruse the tables as they eat refreshments, asking the kids about their stuff.  We encourage each family to bring a plate of their favorite snack to put on their table. (Recipes are nice too!)
A few have had a table full of mostly the resources they used during the year. While there's nothing wrong with this, I linger longer at a table with more of the children's work and photos of activities. The personal homespun aspects are so much warmer and interesting, especially to outsiders.


This is just one aspect of our "presentations"; the other is...






This is where kids and families "do their thing" ~ a performance or presentation of some type.  We've had MANY fun such presentations in past years that have included: singing, musical instruments (short, please, especially since we usually have several of these),  


Carlianne did a report on a trip to London, a report on rocks, a baton-twirling routine, short skits, mime, "Scripture Scenes" (ask Barb about this!), a short report on pyramids. 


One year I choreographed a very sweet minuet kind of dance of five little girls and five little boys, when Sharnessa was about 8 and Tory 6.  It's was SO fun to go back years later and re-watch the video, and see Sharnessa quietly but emphatically helping the boys remember and do their parts!  (Her skills started early!)  The other mom (of three of the little girls, one of whom ended up being one of Sharnessa's bridesmaids) and I sewed darling look-alike dresses for all the girls, which they wore for their family portrait that year.  Every time I see it, it brings back sweet memories. The boys were in white shirts, black pants, and bow ties.
One year a girl who had been training her dog had the dog on a leash and gave it various commands ~ with the dog skillfully obeying them ~ to instrumental background music.


Another year Sharnessa and Tory did a short presentation on the Statue of Liberty. "Visual aids" are nice for reports, rather than just reading something. For instance, the kids showed a fingernail the size of a large piece of paper they had cut out ~ which was the size of Liberty's thumbnails! 



Last year Claire Ouellette brought a rock poster and various rocks for her rock report, and her dad, Pete, helped her do a report on it for the group.  Claire's older sister Laura showed the Music Notebook she had made and shared various items out of that, and then played a piece on the piano that she had given us a little background on. The more variety and creativity the better!  Here are some more ideas to whet your creative appetite and hopefully get your creative juices churning:

A group of about twelve children sang a three-part harmony song. 


The Drama class, which had met only six times, did a clever and humorous medley of parables.


One year our son, Tory, at age 8, wrote out on a portable blackboard all the Roman Numerals of the year "1988" and explained each step as he wrote.  


Another year, when Tory was about 5, he and his Daddy dressed up like trees and lip-synced a song from "Big and Little Tree."  


Sharnessa, with choreography in her blood from an early age, choreographed a dance one year. (We are aware of the need to be particularly careful of modesty with dancing as it can be offensive to some, and we just want to be considerate.  However some consider dance of any kind to be "not good."  Since "dance R us," it was something we obviously wanted to present, so the way we worked it out with others in the group was to put a gracious "disclaimer" on the back of the program.)


Jeremy, 11, used a puppet in a puppet house that he and his family had made, performed a clever summary of the year's activities of our group.


Three brothers, Timothy, Jonathan, and Stephen, did a short puppet show using props they had made themselves.


Children have done short piano (or other instrument) pieces, songs with tape accompaniment, piano, or acappella. The key here is to keep it short. This isn't a recital; just a quick glimpse at the talents of our kids; a "showcase" of our homeschooling efforts during the past year.  



And here are a few more ideas, some are take-offs on presentations individuals in our group have done; some are totally new ideas that, judging from our observations, would be easy to do and be well-received:


A reading or recitation as from a favorite story, a poem, Bible verses, etc.


A special field trip report, using pictures (we enlarged ours at a color copy machine so they were large enough for the group to see), overhead projector, souvenirs from the trip, etc.


Demonstrate a science experiment.  You'll want to choose a quick one that never fails to avoid frustration and embarrassment.


Words of appreciation from a parent to a child, or a child to a parent; planned or spontaneous. (I'd enjoy them either way!)  The unexpected highlight was when Jeremy, an 11-year-old boy got up at the end of the evening, after his mom had honored him earlier in the program for doing so well during their first year of homeschooling and putting up with her awkwardness throughout it. In front of everyone, he said tearfully, "My mom gave me an award earlier, but really, she's the one who should be getting an award!" As he rushed over to hug her, all eyes in that room moistened!


A table exhibit highlight: Perhaps you have something on display you'd like to draw people's attention to or that could use some further explanation; perhaps it would be glossed over without some mention.


A History Presentation: Two kids might do a Barbara Walters type interview of a historical person, like George Washington Carver, or Abe Lincoln. (Our son and daughter did one on a Kid's Day where she interviewed the man who built the Statue of Liberty.)

Presentation of awards and/or promotions: We encourage giving an award for a character quality which your child has developed or exercised during the past year, rather than for a natural academic skill that could make other kids feel inadequate or even "dumb" by comparison B which is not the point of this event! Many parents give each of their children a certificate of promotion from one grade to the next. (Such certificates are available at Christian or stationery stores.)


Another year we divided up the twelve verses of a poem among twelve families. The poem was one I had written called "Heart-Strung Treasures" about each of the months of the year; one month per verse. The families illustrated these verses, one verse per family, on large sheets of white poster board.  They were SO cute!!!  (More ideas on this on my "Heart-strung Treasures" page ~ where the poem itself is ~ and on my "HSPN Committees Page" which you'll find a link to just a little ways down from here.)





If you opt to do awards of some sort...  We have all agreed in the past that we like it best when Dad has a major role in the presentation.  It's particularly distinctive for him, not just Mom, to say a few words of praise concerning his child(ren)'s individuality, growth, or something he's appreciated about what's taken place in their homeschool that year.


I must add that this is not a platform to either "sell homeschooling" or put down public education. I say this only because this has happened in the past, unexpectedly, and made the rest of us feel like crawling into a loop in the carpet!  I'm sure it made our guests even more uncomfortable, if not understandably angry.





It's wise to discuss with your group some limits for presentations; both in the length of each presentation and in limits to the number of types of presentation. For instance, one year we had four or five lip-sync songs. The first two were entertaining; the rest got "old" quickly, even though each of the kids did a good job. Another year we seemed to have endless Scripture recitations: too many, and too long. So consider limitations such as two verses, or one minute each; two lip-sync songs, 1 or 2 minutes for a piano piece, etc. Remember, this isn't a recital. Save lengthier presentations for a group activity day.


Now that you know what this even is all about, let's get into the behind-the-scenes stuff that actually makes it happen...







There are various committees and jobs that need to have people doing them for this event to run smoothly. These are the committees our group has found are needed to make the operation run smoothly without burning out one person. I've given a basic idea of what each job entails and how many people were needed for each committee. For a complete explanation of why the dotted lines and directions for my suggested system, see the next "Explanation" on page 10.  We haven't had every single one of these committees each year, and numbers will vary depending on elaborateness of decorations, number of people in your group, and number of expected guests. But this at least gives you an idea of where to start:







For complete job descriptions of each of

the following committee heads, please click here!

This is what makes the event HAPPEN!  





























M.C. (Master of Ceremonies)













Something many families have enjoyed doing for their table for Homeschool Presentation Night is having their children do "This Is Me" sheets to put up at their table. These are displayed on each family's table so that visitors who don't know very many in the group can recognize at a glance who did these projects, and who the family is. I originally got this idea many many years ago at the first HSPN we ever coordinated (14 or 15 years ago!) when I walked around to look at all the tables and realized that people other than those of us in the group would not know whose work they were looking at on all the various tables. I wanted there to be something to identify the child(ren) with the STUFF on the table!  So that's when I made up my first "This is me" page ~ by hand as I didn't have a computer!  In fact, they were unheard of in people's homes until several years after we started homeschooling!  (So you CAN do it without a computer!)  


Children fill in their page with their own information (over a period of several days; it's too much to do in one day), and paste and/or draw photos of themselves. 

Since Sharnessa and Tory were grade school age, that's the level I made up my form for. Then one year the kids wanted ME to do one too!  So I made up another form for a "teen and older" level ~ which I knew they'd eventually grow into too.  It was a good way to keep them from not wanting to do it anymore; they'd eventually get to "graduate" to the next level UP! 
  (Actually it was fun doing my own!) 
Then a few years later, along came our Carlianne (9 years younger than Sharnessa and 7 years younger than Tory) and we soon saw that we needed yet another version for "babies and tiny tots" as the questions just didn't pertain to a little one.  Thus the three different levels were eventually developed! 
Actually, this project is much more far-reaching than just for one event.  Your child can do one of these every year and eventually have a very fun and precious keepsake booklet of themselves!  They only do one page per year, but as you collect them for several years in a row (even starting late will be better than nothing!!), you will have a fun "snapshot" of your child each year! 

I am glad to share these "This Is Me" forms for free, but, of course, I cannot pay postage to mail them out to everyone.  (And for local people: we can't put them in with our newsletter because, for one thing, there are three sheets, and that would put us over our 33-cent limit, plus we don't want to waste paper sending you ones you don't need. So if you live locally, you can get yours at the next meeting ~ I'll have several of each of the three levels there.)  OR whether you live locally or not, you can send me a SASE and tell me which ones you need. However!...  I'm asking that you get only ONE of each level you need ~ to use and keep as an original ~ and then file that/those away to make copies of each year.  So just to clarify...  please don't have me send one for each child, but just one for each LEVEL in your family. (I'll bring our children's "This Is Me" booklets to the next LCCEA meeting so you can see the progression over several years!  And eventually I'll put a few pages here at my website for those not local.) 

Another option is for you to get these blank forms online. However, be aware that, because of the web page formatting, they won't fit onto just one page once you print them out, nor will they look as nice as what I have printed up.  But this will certainly be a fast, easy, and inexpensive option. The links to the three versions are right here:  



For those of you who know how to make charts (also called "tables") in your word processing program, you are welcome to copy and paste any of the above pages into your own program, and then tweak them to your heart's content!  And please remember there's no need to make them look just like mine!  Use my ideas as a bouncing-off point, and change, add, delete anything you like until they are exactly what you'd like to remember about your children! 

(BTW, we haven't always done them each year; we weren't involved in a support group for several years, but that's not keeping me from not picking up and continuing it now anyway. Even if a few years are missing, think about the treasure having ANYthing from these years will be way down the road! I would LOVE to have even a few years' glimpses into a few years of my life! Even two or three would be fun!)


I share my most recent memories of one of our own Home School Presentation Nights, including a sample of the invitations in an article appropriately called Memories of One Homeschool Presentation Night.


If all this sounds like a lot of work, in some ways it is; but it's really very "do-able" ~ especially since "many hands make light the work."  Each family takes care of their own family's presentation(s), whether they are before the group or on their own table. (And they are free to do one or the other, or both.)  There is very little coordination of any of these other than taking sign-ups so we know how many to expect.  But even set-up is done by the families themselves.


This special event ends up being like a quilt, which each "piece" being its own entity, and all the pieces together creating a very diverse yet united picture of homeschooling ~ and how unique each family is!     






I got all these darling graphics at:




Local Meetings Page


Memories of One Homeschool Presentation Night


Homeschool Presentation Night Committee Heads


Main Lobby of Homeschool Oasis



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