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    Over 30 years ago, the TOPICS program at TOPS was developed to utilize one of our best resources-- our community.  We pride ourselves in giving the opportunity for parents, guardians, friends and community members to share their talents, cultural diversity, knowledge and excitement for learning to our children.

    Be a part of this great TOPS tradition!

    On this page you will find:

    • Current TOPICS news
    • 2017-8 TOPICS calendar
    • What is TOPICS?
    • Why TOPICS?
    • Who is TOPICS?
    • Mentor Program
    • Sign Me Up!
    • Student Leaders
    • TOPIC Resources: list of past TOPICS, how-to planning guide, and more


    TOPICS Information Night!
    Tuesday, Oct 10th
    6:30 - 7:30pm
    TOPS Library
    RSVP at

    2017-8 TOPICS Calendar:

    Wednesday, Oct 18th   12:00 - 1:50pm
    Wednesday, Nov 15th What's Your Art? 12:00 - 1:50pm
    Wednesday, Dec 6th &
    Thursday, Dec 7th
    Hour of Code various times during the school day
    Friday, Jan 19th MLK Day of Service 12:10 - 3:10pm
    Wednesday, Feb 14th 12:00 - 1:50pm
    Wednesday, March 21st split 1st-3rd & 4th-5th 12:00 - 1:50pm
    Friday, April 27th 1:00 - 3:00pm
    Wednesday, May 16th FIUTS 12:00 - 1:50pm

    *see description of themes below

    What is TOPICS?
    Approximately once a month for 2 hours, classroom teachers and volunteer parents, community members and older students share a particular interest, skill, or passion with small groups of mixed-grade students (about 12 1st-5th graders).  Each group or subject is called a TOPIC.  Through sign-ups, the students choose from the variety of TOPICS offered each time, one that is of interest to them.

    On a typical TOPIC day, you may find a group of 1st-5th graders with a parent learning about aerodynamics with paper airplanes, a teacher leading a group on a field trip to the Seattle Art Museum, students and a grandparent gardening at a local P-patch, or a local artist creating collages with students.

    Throughout the year, there are several TOPIC days that have special themes:
    What's Your Art?  How do you express yourself creatively?  Do you write, paint, garden, sew, design, make music, bake, dance, do crafts…?  Share YOUR passion and inspire our students to express their art, too! 
    Hour of Code: a nation wide program to introduce students to the basics of computer programming.  Volunteers are needed throughout the day to assist in the classrooms. 
    MLK Day of Service: In January, we honor the legacy of Martin King, Jr. with a TOPICS day focused on social justice and being of service.  Last year, TOPICS groups created greeting cards for assisted living residents, put together care packages for homeless shelters and made blankets for Children’s hospital patients, just to name a few.
    FIUTS: College students with the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students lead TOPICS about their home countries and cultures.  Volunteers are needed as assistants only.

    Examples of past TOPICS: ● Service Dogs ● West African Drumming ● The Story of Stuff: Stuff Kids Have Here and Around the World ● Music of Freedom ● Sun Prints ● Games of Chance ● Trip to University Food Bank ● Trip to Burke Museum ● Explore Pike Place Market ● Worm Bins ● Cooking Science ● Drawing Comics….

    Why TOPICS?
    Cross-grade interaction in small groups: TOPICS puts 1st-5th graders together and gives older students the opportunity to be role models and helpers, and for all students to build relationships and confidence in their community.  Small group learning enables more student participation and engagement.

    Community building: TOPICS provides teachers and parents a chance to share with students a passion, interest or hobby and demonstrates to students how important their education is to all of us. Each time a volunteer leads a TOPIC, students learn to value each human being as having the ability, skills, talents and enthusiasm to share with others.

    Motivation for Learning
    : Students sign-up from a variety of subjects offered each TOPICS, and although they may not always get their first choice, this process helps students feel invested in their own learning.  Older students who teach a TOPIC learn leadership skills and how to organize their time and ideas. 

    Who is TOPICS?
    YOU are needed to power TOPICS!  Approximately 15 volunteer leaders and 20 assistants are needed for each TOPICS day.  It is truly a rewarding experience to engage with students and be a part of this powerful TOPS tradition.
    There are several different ways to contribute your volunteerism with TOPICS:

    • As a TOPIC Leader:  Create and lead a 2 hour lesson plan or field trip sharing one of your passions or interests with a small group of 1st-5th grade students.
    • As a TOPIC Assistant: On the day of TOPICS, provide support to a teacher or parent leader by helping students stay engaged, safe and productive.
    • As a TOPIC Mentor: Act as a resource and guide for a parent wanting to become a leader (see below).
    • As a TOPIC Organizer: Help with generating topic ideas, recruiting volunteers, school communication and/or facilitating the smooth running of a TOPIC day.  Email if this interests you!

    TOPICS Mentor Program:
    Experienced TOPICS leaders can be paired with parents new to TOPICS who would like some extra support and guidance becoming leaders.  Indicate on the TOPICS Sign-up form or email if you are interested in participating as either a mentor or mentee.

    Sign Me Up! 
    Look at the TOPICS calendar (top of this page) and choose as many dates as you can to participate.  Keep in mind that once you develop a lesson plan, you can do it many times so that more students have the opportunity to experience it.  Fill out the TOPICS Sign-up Form (also found in the go-home packets and at the front office), and return it to your student's teacher of the front office.  Alternately, simply email with your preferences (i.e. which dates you'd like to lead or assist).

    TOPICS parent coordinators will contact you and help you with the guidance and information you need to have a successful TOPICS experience.

    Student Leaders:
    If your 4th or 5th grader is interested in leading a TOPIC, that is awesome! You can support them in their planning and by volunteering to be their adult supervisor for the TOPIC day.  They should contact their teacher and/or Katie Waters (TOPICS Teacher coordinator) to get started. 

    TOPICS Resources:
    Click TOPICS Public Resources to read all TOPICS resources or click the links below to access specific resources:

    Email with any questions or comments!