Friday, December 13, 2013

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3 Ways to Have Fun Food-Free Classroom Celebrations for Birthdays and Other Occasions


Thank you to Winning Moves for providing an educational board game to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

We're well into the month of December now, a time when most people are focused on their Holiday plans and finishing up their gift shopping.  For me, however, it is a time to think about how we will be celebrating our 3 children's January birthdays, the first of which is coming up in just a few weeks.  When the children were in preschool, we used to send in cupcakes and other treats to celebrate their birthdays, but now things are different.  In our health conscious grade school, cake and cookies and other sweets are not allowed in the classrooms, even for special occasions.  I am all for not giving our children sugar highs while they are supposed to be well-behaved and focused on learning.

Throughout the years, the school has slowly moved away from asking for healthy treats towards encouraging non-food celebrations for birthdays, the Holidays, and Valentine's Day.  This is actually a relief to me.  There were so many allergies to consider when providing treats for the class, including no eggs, no nuts, no dairy, and more.  I am in no way disappointed with this new trend.  If your school is encouraging non-food celebrations too, then here are three of my favorite ideas for celebrating food-free in the classrooms . . .

1.  Donate an educational game to the classroom.  This January in honor of their birthdays, all 3 of my children will be donating a fun game to each of their classrooms in addition to handing out multi-colored pens to each of their classmates.  I'm particularly excited about donating the game PayDay Classic Edition to our 4th grader's class.  Throughout the year, the class learns all about money, including earning classroom cash and paying fines for doing (or not doing) their homework, keeping a bankbook to track their balances, building and running a business, and more.  This board game is all about making and spending money and is just the perfect game to gift to my son's classroom.  There are many educational games out there that teach reading, counting, strategic thinking, problem solving, and more.  You just need to find the right one for your child's classroom.

2.  Send in a themed goodie bag for each student.  If you decide to go the goodie bag route, then why not put some thought into including items that really work together?  Random little items are fun, but items that can be used together for a particular activity can be even more fun.  For example, last year we sent goodie bags in for all the students in each twin's kindergarten class that contained a detective's pad, a pencil, and funny glasses (with attached nose and mustache) so the junior detectives could have disguises to wear when they were working undercover.  Those goodie bags were a huge hit!

3.  Do a fun craft with the whole class.  I think this is a fantastic idea, but I honestly have never done it.  If the thought of having to direct a group of 20 grade school children does not phase you (I don't know how teachers do it), then it would be a very cool celebration to have each student make something, which they can then keep.  Some easy ideas would be to make pencil cups for their desks, decorate notebooks, make magnets, or make bookmarks.  The possibilities are really endless and I'm certain that you will find some great ideas for low-mess kids crafts on Pinterest and at your local craft store.

What ideas do you have for non-food classroom celebrations?  Please do share your ideas because I have 3 children and many more birthday celebrations to plan in the coming years!