Photo by: Sierra Donald

July 30, 2015 / Staff Management

Making yearbook fun

Written by Idea File Staff

Yearbook is hard work, and everyone needs a break from hard work now and then. Both yearbook production and fun activities should foster a unified, family-like atmosphere that will relieve stress, provide motivation and team-building opportunities and make for great memories. The list of tips below is by no means complete, but try some of these ideas for making yearbook fun.

  • Organize a scavenger hunt at the beginning of the year to acclimate the new students to the room. Include on the list items students typically ask you for; such as, “Where are the scissors? “Where are the student directories?” etc. Pair new students with experienced students.
  • Hang holiday lights from the ceiling. On stressful days, turn the lights off and plug in the holiday lights. Nothing is more peaceful than twinkling lights over the heads of working students.
  • Hold a “name that computer” contest each year for the computers.
  • Create staff songs, select team mottos, find a publication mascot and design staff T-shirts.
  • Relieve some stress by celebrating National Game & Puzzle Week, usually the last week of November. Have someone draw a turkey, and everyone draw a feather, and play Pin the Tale on the Turkey.
  • April is National Humor Month. Consider having a joke-writing contest with wacky prizes. It’s also National Poetry Month. Let students write funny (but clean) poems.
  • Make HGTV proud. Treat the yearbook room as your kitchen away from home: whatever your home kitchen has, your room needs – refrigerator, microwave, pantry, sink, etc.
  • Take time off during the winter months to practice that “Triple Lutz” with the yearbook staff while ice skating.
  • Ask the PE teacher to teach weekly yoga classes to help de-stress.
  • Bring birthday donuts once a month.
  • Consider having a canned good or food drive in May to help stock the local food pantry. Supplies usually are lower in the summer.
  • Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month in September is a good time to write short notes to these people on your staff, encouraging them for the upcoming year.
  • If you have a staff of mostly girls, have a “girls’ day out” and invite a stylist (maybe yours) to class to talk about manicures or pedicures. Perhaps she could give a manicure to one lucky staff member while teaching the others.
  • Stop what you are doing and hold an impromptu “rock/paper/scissors” contest.
  • Adopt an official ice cream for the staff – find something with a funny name like Moosetracks.
  • Record songs with the help of a karaoke machine; use lyrics inspired by the yearbook deadline. Play excerpts at the end-of-the year banquet.
  • Hang pinatas from the ceiling. After the last deadline is over, have at it. Save the last pinata for after the last proof is sent back. Fill that one with especially good candy to enjoy as part of your celebration.
  • Draw names for gift exchanges. Make them inexpensive, homemade or themed gifts easy for everyone to do.
  • Send get-well cards to staffers who are home sick or recouping from having their wisdom teeth out.
  • Spend time occasionally patting each other on the back. Toss a Koosh ball to someone in the room and say something nice about that person. That person tosses the ball to someone else and says something nice. Repeat until everyone has been covered. Also use this to get acquainted. One student asks a question and tosses the ball to someone who answers and then asks another question, tossing the ball to someone else, and so on.
  • Building a team should be done outside the yearbook room as well. Organize movie nights or a bowling event.
  • Once a week, share an inspiring story or quote from a “Chicken Soup” book, or any other quote or piece that might be inspirational.
  • Participate in a Friday Fun activity that is exciting and enthusiastic. Have a different staff member responsible for planning the activity each week.
  • Use secret pals for special occasions, or use them all year long, for every deadline. Students reward each other with positive notes, gifts, etc.
  • Send out one or two postcards a week congratulating yearbook staff members for accomplishments, praising them for doing extra work or helping others, or just thanking them for their positive attitudes.
  • Stock up on stress relievers – tension balls, Koosh balls, bubble soap and wands, a couple of stuffed animals, magic wands, a Crazy 8 ball, and other toys to break the tension.
  • For May Day on May 1, have staff members leave a flower on two on the desks of teachers and other special people in the school building.
  • Celebrate Cinco de Mayo on May 5 with a piñata.
  • Consider collecting canned goods to donate to a local food pantry, which have trouble staying stocked during the summer.
  • May is Teacher Appreciation Month. National Teacher Day is the Tuesday of the first full week of May. Let your staff know this and see if anything happens.
  • Reserve a space, preferably near the computers, for students to hang some of their own photos. When deadlines are looming, it is nice to focus for a few seconds on photos of friends, family and pets. Silly staff photos should also be a part of the collection, reminding students of good times.
  • Give awards for each deadline – best copy, headline, caption, photo, most valuable, most improved, best story, best photos, etc. Create certificates for specific achievements. Make sure everyone is a winner sometimes.
  • Help students enter their work in state and national contests, and, when they win awards, be sure to publicize their success.
  • Take field trips. Go to state and national conventions and workshops. Visit your yearbook company. Tour the journalism department of an area college or a professional printing company. On a smaller scale, just get together at least once a semester for dinner at an area restaurant.
  • National Play-doh Day is Sept. 18. Give them a little ball of the fun stuff to play with during a brainstorming session, or keep a few cans in the room for an instant break time. The only rule is, if you drop any little pieces, they must pick them up immediately, especially if you have carpeting in your room.
  • Have students job shadow at area businesses such as the local newspaper, a graphic design firm, advertising agency, or professional photographer. Students see that the skills they are learning can be applied in the work world, and often return with great new ideas.
  • Consider taking slides of students during the entire year and show them at the journalism banquet.
  • Have the students organize their own junior high journalism workshop, where they teach a variety of sessions and plan activities for their junior high counterparts.
  • Consider establishing a staff mascot and theme for the year. Do not forget to get staff shirts, hats, key chains or other identifying items.
  • Have a year-end staff banquet to praise the accomplishments of the students. Be sure to announce the new staff members as well. Invite community members who have helped the publication during the year.
  • Get a scrapbook and place photos of journalism students in it, as well as copies of award certificates, letters from readers, notes from graduates, etc.
  • Celebrate the obvious milestones like birthdays, but don’t overlook others like getting a driver’s license, college admission, scholarships, new siblings.
  • Pop Tarts were created Nov. 19, 1965. Bring some in as a treat. Toasting is optional.
  • April 2 is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. Celebrate by having staff members bring in the ingredients and eat sandwiches.
  • The first McDonald’s opened on April 15, 1955. Celebrate this one if yearbook class falls during lunch.
  • April 17 is National Cheeseball Day. Have staffers make or buy a few cheeseballs. Don’t forget the crackers.
  • Relieve some staff stress by celebrating National Jelly Bean Day on April 22. Use the candy to play Bingo and to eat.
  • Celebrate National Pretzel Day on April 26. Let your staff eat the twists and build with the sticks.
  • April 18 is Pet Owner’s Day. Have everyone bring in a photo of their pet and post them on the wall. Vote to see who looks the most like their pet.
  • Honor the office personnel who have helped your program this year. Administrative Professionals Week is usually the fourth week in April. Cards, flowers (real or tissue paper), or candy are a few ways to thank them.
  • In November, have your staff make a thankful turkey. Have each person trace their hand, with fingers spread, on brown construction paper for the turkey. Cut it out. Have them cut out feathers using autumn-colored paper. Write what they are thankful for, both yearbook-related and not, on as many feathers at they would like and glue them to the turkey, on the fingers. Hang them on a wall.
  • Have Thanksgiving dinner. Have everyone bring in a favorite Thanksgiving dish. Don’t have that kind of time? Cut to the best part of the meal – have several people bring in their favorite pie.
  • In December, try a cookie exchange, in which everyone brings two dozen cookies to share, and an empty container to take home cookies. This is great for advisers who do not have time to bake but have an upcoming party and need to bring goodies.
  • Let each staff member choose a “Secret Santa.” Limit the gifts to gag gifts or gifts to under a certain dollar amount.
  • To recognize Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza, have a staff dinner on a work night that consists of turkey, sweet potatoes, latkes, cookies, jelly doughnuts, and banana custard with raisins.
  • Before winter break, consider taking an evening to go caroling and collect canned goods to donate to a local food pantry.
  • Chocolate Day honors Milton Hershey’s birthday on Sept. 13. Bring a bag of Hershey’s Kisses to share with the staff.
  • Dessert Month in October can be a time for parents to get creative with their donations.
  • Magazine Month in October is a great opportunity to review many magazines for design and content ideas.
  • For Pasta Month in October, let everyone make an elbow macaroni and yarn necklace.
  • Pizza Month in October may be a good time to have your staff try pizza with different toppings.
  • Pretzel Month in October allows you to have a low-fat snack alternative in your room. Let your staff eat twists and build with the sticks. Also, National Pretzel Day is April 26.
  • Magic Week, during the last week of October, is a chance for any magician on staff to put on a two-minute show or demonstrate card tricks.
  • Candy Corn Day is Oct. 30. Have a couple of bags on hand to boost morale.
  • Fall is treat season. Using fall or Halloween as the theme, ask staffers to bring their favorite candy to share. Or have staff or parents make Halloween cookies or cupcakes.
  • Have a craft day in the fall. Instead of carving pumpkins, get small decorative squashes for every staff member and have a face-drawing contest using markers. Let the class vote on the best face, and the winner gets candy.
  • If the student body is allowed to dress for Halloween, let them vote on the most imaginative costume, with candy to the winner. If they do not dress for school, have them bring items and take three minutes in class to put them on. Then have the class vote on the best costume. Or, have each student bring a photo of them as a child dressed for Halloween to display on the wall.
  • World Kindness Week and World Kindness Day are usually the second week in November. Have the staff write thank you notes to secretaries, principals, janitors, teachers or anyone who has helped them with yearbook this year.
  • National Pizza With The Works Except Anchovies Day is Nov. 12. Celebrate this during a work night, or meet everyone at your local pizza parlor.
  • Have a Coats for Kids Drive in the fall. Have your staffers check for winter coats they or their siblings have outgrown and donate them to a shelter.
  • Go caroling around the winter holidays and collect canned goods one evening to donate to a local food pantry.
  • Retail Bakers Month in January is easy to celebrate with snack cakes and powdered donuts.
  • Book Week is the third week of January. Have your staff collect and donate books for elementary-age students.
  • Wham-O produced its first Frisbees on Jan. 13, 1957. Take your staff outside to stretch and throw a few of these disks. If there is snow on the ground, use bright pink or orange ones.
  • Popcorn Day is Jan. 19. Have staff members donate microwave popcorn for the yearbook room for the rest of the year. Let them string some to decorate the room.
  • TV Game Show Day is Jan. 24, the birthdate of Mark Goodman, the producer of many such shows. Play a TV game show game, such as Jeopardy!, using journalism/yearbook questions.
  • Corn Chip Day and Jigsaw Puzzle Day are Jan. 29. Small jigsaw puzzles, 50 to 75 pieces are a good stress reliever, and do not take as much time as a 1,000-piece puzzle.
  • February is Bake for Family Fun Month and Celebration of Chocolate Month. Have everyone sign up to bring in a baked chocolate goodie each day this month.
  • Celebrate Friendship Month in February by having a ceremony to remind your staff of their commitment to work together for the good of the yearbook.
  • February is Potato Lover’s Month and Snack Food Month. Set up a baked potato bar at a work session, or have everyone bring in potato chips and other snacks.
  • Random Acts of Kindness Week usually is the second full week of February. Design small certificates for your staff to hand out when they see another student or teacher do something nice for someone. The certificates can say, “I caught you performing a random act of kindness during Random Acts of Kindness Week.”
  • Valentine’s Day, on Feb. 14, is a good day to have your staff make Valentines saying why they love yearbook and hang them on the wall.
  • Pancake Week is usually the week preceding Ash Wednesday. If you cannot fix pancakes in the classroom, McDonald’s makes them. Also, crepes are pancakes. Consider having some with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
  • National Chili Day and Banana Bread Day are both on Feb. 23. Celebrate these foods at lunch or a work night.
  • Floral Design Day is Feb. 28. Have your staff make and wear tissue paper flowers.
  • For Frozen Food Month in March, make sundaes using toasted frozen waffles, ice cream and assorted toppings.
  • Celebrate National Peanut Month in March. On a warm day, take your staff outside for peanut races. Use unshelled peanuts and have them carry them in spoons or on their forehead to the finish line. See who can build with them. When you are done, eat them, which is why you don’t want to do this in your classroom.
  • St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17. Have someone bring shamrock-shaped sugar cookies with green icing. Serve with green Kool-Aid. Or, buy 8 1/2-by-11-inch green foam sheets and have the class cut out shamrocks to wear as pins or tie through their shoelaces. Or, give an oral quiz, and the students who answer questions correctly get “gold coin” chocolate candy or treat bags of Lucky Charms cereal.
  • Earth Day is either March 20 (first day of spring) or April 22, depending on the source. Either way, pick a time, maybe after school or on a weekend, to volunteer to pick up trash on the school grounds, or help with other outdoor chores around the building. This will get the students outside and doing something productive for their school community.
Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.