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:

  • 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

2020-21 TOPICS Calendar

TOPICS dates for 2020-21 will be determined once we return to school onsite.  Please note that if you want to explore more about Topics, the links on this page still work EXCEPT for the Topics Sign-up Form which will be updated when we can meet in school again.  Stay tuned! 

What is TOPICS?

Several times during the school year, 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 classroom signups, 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:

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.  Examples of past MLK Day of Service TOPICS include: creating greeting cards for assisted living residents, putting together care packages for homeless shelters, volunteering at the University Food Bank, and learning about food equity.

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 we do TOPICS?

  • Teachers and students alike enjoy the creative and hands-on learning that goes beyond grade-level and district-defined curriculum.
  • Students get to exercise choice through the TOPICS sign-up process.
  • Cross-grade learning strengthens community among students, teachers, and parents.
  • The structure provides good opportunities to explore social justice and environmental topics that support the TOPS mission .

Who is TOPICS?

YOU are needed to power TOPICS!  Approximately 15 volunteer leaders and 15 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 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. 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 multiple times.  Fill out the TOPICS Sign-up Form 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

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

  • TOPIC Sign-up Form
  • Master list of past TOPICS offered
  • TOPICS planning guide and teaching strategies
  • Examples of TOPICS lesson plans

Email with any questions or comments!