I am on a committee that initiates activities that enrich student life at our public elementary school. There is a LOT on offer, in terms of lunchtime activities, and extra curricular activities.
At this point, adding one more feels like overdoing it. It's a small school, and there are a lot of options.
However, we're planning for next year, and I don't have any great ideas - please spam me with cool things going on at your school.
My only thought so far is to do something more academic. We already have math club and geography club and a spelling bee prep club...
I thought it would be cool to do something with the more advanced (academically) kids in the school, or the very artistic ones, because though we have resources for kids that need extra support, there is no enrichment for those that do well.
Reader's Theatre is a great activity for advanced readers. Their are some great online scripts and educational stores have fun books with them too. There are lots of literary games to play. Even having the kids read Shel Sylverstien or Jack Polentsky is fun, vocab building and develops expression. The kids really loved it.
Game clubs are fun too. Chess, boggle, tic tac check, countdown, gobblet... kids dig it.
Book club. Sometimes you can piggyback onto programs run by Library Associations with city or region-wide book festivals, author visits to the schools, author readings and other events.
History Fair - at DD's school, some students did wonderful work with local seniors about their experiences during the Depression, the war, the immigration experience and other significant historical or cultural events. They did some amazing recorded interviews and poster presentations.
Garden/Nature/Environmental Club - could go along with a schoolyard "greening" program
Model United Nations
Mural or other major art project for the school - working with local artists. As a fundraiser at one school that DD attended, each class worked with an artist to create work that was later auctioned to parents and community guests at a big evening event.
Music programs - choir, band or orchestra
Also - film club - possibly with animation/claymation
There's lots of fun and interesting work that can be done with relatively inexpensive digital camcorders and computer video- and audio-editing software. It's also something that adapts well to various ages, by adjusting the amount of support provided, so it can work fairly well with an elementary school population.
These are some of the things that my dc have done in the past year:
My ds loved being in the Geobee. It was part of National Geographic. He has also been a mathlete doing math olympiads.
He recently competed in a battle of the books, in which they were given a book list to read and then quizzed over content in small teams. They actually battled against many area elementaries.
The school had a community garden, which was integrated into all of the classrooms. They planted and cared for it, harvested, and had a farmer's market. They had opportunities to sample and cook. They started a program for students on free and reduced lunch to learn to cook/pack lunches from the garden for the weekends. DD's class wrote Michelle Obama about their garden and she invited 5 2nd grade kids to Washington DC to help plant her Victory Garden. DD really wanted to go, but her name was not drawn. The garden was still a good experience.
DD is her class rep for student council.
We are getting ready to sign up for an elp program for both dc through their school called Super Summer... we were thinking about acting classes, photography class, lego mindstorm, Egypt, or engineering (disassembling and assembling electronics). We are waiting for the catalog to come out, though, so we are not sure what is available.
My dd said she might join a glee club or chorus next year.
Artist trading card (atc) club http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Artist-Trading-Cards
or Zentangle club. See http://tanglepatterns.com/ for zentangle ideas
You could also combine the two. The ATCs are great for exploring techniques and the small size is very approachable for kids - they love that there is very quick gratification and if it doesn't work out they haven't spent a lot of time. Zentangles are great because they teach perspective, pattern and repetition, line and composition in a very easy and accessible way; my 5yo can produce some pretty cool pieces and feel very accomplished but it's also interesting and variable enough that HS kids/grown ups would have fun with it. Both of them are very low cost & dont require a lot of materials. I spent about an hour cutting scrap poster board into atc size blanks and got enough for about 6 20 kid classes.
I wanted to second the suggestion of the community garden club. Our school has a gardening, food production and environmental sustainability program built into the curriculum, but it's also got a large extra-curricular component and it is amazingly dynamic and multi-faceted. Also, for several years prior to the school building its garden I ran a community gardening club for families which was an amazing experience for me and my kids. I live in Canada where the growing season is short, and the school year ends before much of the growing can take place. Still, there are ways to work around that. The first fall focused on getting to know local agricultural resources, growing cool-weather greens, building garden beds for the following spring, initiating a vermicomposting program within the school, and mounting a Harvest Festival which featured locally-acquired produce and activities like apple cider pressing. Spring activities started with indoor starter flats and more cool-weather crops, planting low-maintenance perennial veggies and flowers and a few simple vegetables that would mature in the fall. During the summer there is a weekly weeding party of volunteers. Watering is looked after by a family who lives near the school and is simple and mostly timer-based.
In our area there are lots of grants available for equipment and infrastructure for "green educational initiatives in schools" like this. Toyota Canada is big into this. Not sure about their US division, but if not I'll bet there are others.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Wow, these are great suggestions!!!
We already have a few of these going; math club, geography club, spelling, robotics and music, and only the very beginnings of a gardening club. I'm also in Canada, so was interested in the information for the short growing season.
Book clubs, science fair, history, art, film, debating, model UN, etc. - all great ideas that I will be taking with me to my meeting!!