Activity: Family café

Transversal Skills:
Creative and critical thinking
Learning to learn
Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills

Teaching- Learning Approach:

Collaborative learning, gamification

   Miller Pyramid

Learning outcomes

By the end of the activity, students should be able to:

  • Design creative and socially relevant activities adapted to a non-specialized audience, taking into account various variables that make their implementation feasible within the context of a collaborative event.
  • Implement activities within the context of an event aimed at a non-specialized audience, adapting them to the participants’ needs and potential incidents or setbacks that may arise, while ensuring equitable participation of all participants.


As regards transversal skills, students should be able to:

Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills:

  • Express ideas clearly and fluently
  • Use precise and descriptive/content-specific vocabulary to enhance the topic or message
  • Show empathy and use non-verbal communication and active listening
  • Persevere in the face of difficulties
  • Develop positive and emotionally safe interaction and develop and co-create teamwork
  • Create a non-discrimination atmosphere
  • Work cooperatively with others: listens to others, incorporates what others say, encourages peers’ participation, engages in group decision making, helps peers selflessly, and accomplishes shared goals

Critical and creative thinking:

  • Develop innovative solutions to answer different questions and to create new and worthwhile ideas; elaborate and evaluate ideas in order to improve and maximise their creative efforts

Learning to learn:

  • Use prior knowledge to plan a strategy for approaching a new task, and transfer what they have learned from one context to another, or from a previous task to a new task


Brief description of the activity

A Family Café is an open place for families with children to socialise with each other and participate in activities created by students of higher education institutions. The students will thus need to plan the activities and facilitate these during the Family Café event. This will allow them to realise the various aspects to take into account when planning activities and programs for families, on the one hand, and practise their professional skills in a safe and supervised environment, on the other. 


Activity plan: step by step


Before the activity

A Family Café is an open meeting place for families with children situated in educational institutions. Beyond casual socialising, in the event, families can participate in activities organised by students of the educational institution. Therefore, students need to plan the activities using gamification approaches, and facilitate the activities in the Family Café. 

Things to take into account prior to the activity:


  1. Context. Students should have enough professional skills to work with families and children autonomously. You should decide the periodicity and timing of the Family Café event(s) and sort students into groups according to the number of activities to be performed during the event(s). Additionally, you should make sure that this type of event is allowed at your educational institution, and that you will have enough recruitment strategies to ensure the participation of families in the event(s). 
  2. Materials necessary for its implementation. You should prepare the board game if you are going to use it to aid students in preparing the activities (see below). You should also have a room or enough rooms that allow students to work in groups. Lastly, you should also book a space at your educational institutions for the Family Café event(s) to happen. Make sure that the families will be allowed inside that space. In that space, it is also recommended to bring toys or something for children to play with. 
  3. Human resources necessary for its implementation. You will need to incorporate as many teachers as student groups, so that each group has a tutor. They have a facilitating role in the preparation and implementation role of the activity. Make sure that they are all aligned in terms of how to guide students throughout the process.   


During the activity

Step 1. Preparing the Family Café. Students should be organised into groups to prepare the activities that will be performed during the Family Café. You can decide whether the aims of the activities are pre-set or allow the students to set these by themselves. They should use different sources of information and their previous knowledge to plan the timing of the activity, the materials and resources that they will need, the dynamics and modality of the activity, the learning objectives and potential contingencies that they will need to solve. You can also use a board game to make them think about potential contingencies or situations that may occur during the activities and how to solve them (see step 1.1). Each team will have a tutor that will help them in this process. Once the activities are ready, students should present these to the other students and tutors. An open discussion should follow for students to incorporate feedback in their activities.

The number of groups, as well as the number of students in each group, should be decided according to the number of activities to be performed during the Family Café. This will be determined by the periodicity and timing of Family Café events (e.g. two Family Café events per month of 2 hours each, one Family Café event per year of 6 hours).

Step 1.1. The board game. The board game’s canva is a very simple grid with numbers from 1 (start box) to 30 (finish box) ordered in spiral. You can download the canva online or build it yourself. There should also be a deck of cards. Each card portrays a situation that may occur when working with families and children (e.g. a family does not want to participate in any of the activities of the Family Café). The aim of the game is to be the first to get to the finish box through thinking about best ways to react to situations with families. To do so, participants will need to throw the dice, move forward as many boxes as the number shown in the dice and, then, pick a card from the pile. The card will picture a situation and participants will have to state what they think is the best reaction to that situation. If the teacher believes that this is also the best way to react to the situation, they get to move two boxes forward. If the teacher feels that the answer is incomplete or not the best reaction, participants move one box back. Thereafter, the teacher gives the word to the other participants so that they can answer what they think is the best reaction. The participant that offers the best answer gets to move one box forward. After this round of consultations, it’s turn for the next participant to throw the dice.  

The game can be played individually or in teams of 2 to 4 people. The first one to start will be the one that throws the highest number of the dice. The other participants’ turn will follow from left to right.

Step 2. The Family Café. During the Family Café event, multiple activities will be performed. Families can decide which activities they want to participate in. Students will facilitate the activity that they designed. The other students will be observers together with teachers. None of them will therefore interfere in the activity unless a situation arises in which the safety or wellbeing of families or students is compromised. 


After the activity

After the activity, the students and teachers should gather in order to discuss how the activity went and whether the aims of the activity were achieved. Facilitating students should reflect on their performance during the activity and what they learnt from it. They should also reflect on the appropriateness of the activity for the objectives that were set, and think about what could be changed to achieve these objectives better. Observer students should reflect on whether they would have done anything differently and why. Teachers should guide the discussion and provide them with resources to enhance their learning process and improve their professional skills.


Evaluation tool

Transversal skills are difficult to evaluate, particularly among big groups of students. Therefore, in this section we propose a tool for students to self-assess the development of these skills. The tool is divided into three dimensions: suitability of the learning activity, level of achievement of learning outcomes, and transferability to professional settings. You can adapt the dimensions and/or indicators that you use according to your teaching-learning context and needs. 


Evaluation tool to self-assess the development of skills during the activity

For each of the following statements, select the best answer on a scale from 1 to 4, where 1 means “Not at all” and 4 indicates “Yes, totally”. N/A means “not applicable”.

  1 2 3 4 N/A
DIMENSION 1. Suitability of the learning activity
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of time          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of resources (material resources, physical space, etc.)          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of content          
I found this learning activity engaging          
I found this learning activity challenging          
I found this learning activity disruptive in comparison with other learning methodologies          
I found this learning activity useful to learn [add the subject]          
I found this learning activity useful to retain knowledge          
This learning activity motivated me to deepen my knowledge of [add subject or hard skill]          
This learning activity allowed me to feel emotions that would be rather difficult to experience with other learning methodologies          
I would recommend this learning activity to others          
DIMENSION 2. Level of achievement of learning outcomes
This learning activity helped me to improve… 
…my ability to [add a row for each learning outcome of the activity that you performed, both related to hard and transversal skills]          
DIMENSION 3. Transferability to professional settings
After this learning activity…
…I will be better able to apply what I learned to my reality (everyday life, classroom, professional life)          
…I feel more capable to perform in a professional setting          
…I feel I can make better choices regarding professional situations          
…I feel more prepared and self-confident to address professional situations          

OPEN QUESTION – Use this space to explain whatever you think is remarkable from the learning activity, including strengths, weaknesses, improvements, potential uses, feelings or dilemmas you encountered during the activity. 




Download evaluation tool in pdf here.




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           Author / Creator

      Satu Hakanen


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