- Provide guidelines for parents about approved foods to bring. A short list with classroom policies and healthy examples can make a big difference in the types of foods that enter the classroom.
- Make foods look fun and festive, by adding seeds or nuts and making fun shapes with fruits and vegetables.
- Give alternative treats like bracelets, rings, crossword puzzles, maze games or yo-yo’s.
- For Halloween, celebrate with fun crafts instead of bags of candy; have students make masks and act out spooky plays.
- For Valentine’s Day have students write out nice comments about each classmate and pass them out during class. Instead of candy, consider treats like pencils, erasers and stickers.
- Plan special games and activities, instead of food. Obstacle courses and relay races are a hit with all grade levels.
- Hand out low-cost treats like stickers, pencils, erasers, or other small items.
- Make a “VIP Birthday Kit” for the class with a birthday button, badge or crown.
- Allow birthday students to bring their favorite thing from home to show and tell.
- Let the birthday child be first in line for lunch or recess on his/her special day.
- Celebrate all the birthdays of the month on one day, and limit the food items to fruits, veggies and small cupcakes. Cutting cupcakes in half is a great way to reduce sugar and fat intake while enjoying treats in moderation.
Class rewards –
- Award with fun activities such as art, music and cooking demonstrations.
- Have the class earn special rewards: “Game Time” – children earn letters to spell “game time” and earn reading/story time, the chance to play educational board games or extra recess time.
- Lessons outside.
- Dancing to music in class or listening while working.
- Earn “Friday Free Time” or extended recess time.
- A smoothie party.
- A special field trip.
With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s never too early to transition students and parents to a healthy classroom environment. Remember, these tips are great for the classroom but also useful for work celebrations! For more information visit: www.choosemyplate.gov.
Tips adapted, in part, from the Network for a Healthy California Children’s PowerPlay! campaign.