Shhh!! It’s a Secret! How to Have the Best Class Parties!

Shhh!! It’s a Secret! How to Have the Best Class Parties!

Ugh... Class Parties

I used to despise class parties. When I taught second grade our team would show a movie for each party. We watched Matilda for Halloween. We watched The Polar Express for Christmas and we watched Little Rascals for Valentine’s Day. Our parties were actually pretty boring and usually during them the kids complained that they were bored! When I switched schools and taught third we followed the same plan for parties and the kids complained about it then too! 

When I switched to a new school the room parents were in charge of planning the class parties. Seriously, what a relief! They planned such fun and engaging activities but they were a bit too fun and I ended up with out of control children! Like out of control. This behavior was encouraged by parent volunteers and I ended up with a classroom that was completely trashed after every party. Honestly?

This brings me to last year when I was hoping that there could be a different way to celebrate as a class. A way that not only engaged the kids and was fun but didn’t leave my classroom totally destroyed. Well, my room parents tried out one of the greatest things ever and I could not believe the shift in my class parties. 

Here's The Secret!

Are you ready for it? Are you really ready to switch up your class parties in the simplest of ways? Here’s the secret. I’m willing to share it with you because it took away all the stress of party planning. Here it is….

sandwich making!

Yup. That really is the secret. Those two little words up there were a game changer. Want to know why? Sandwich making is both a snack and an activity in one! Score! Kids love to eat and kids also love to play with their food. Why not let them?

Throwing A Sandwich Making Party

You'll Need:

-Stuff to make sandwiches (bread, cheese, butter, meat, veggies, etc.)

-Themed cookie cutters (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, whatever!) 

-Plates

-Napkins

-Plastic Knives

-Juice

-Cups

-Chips & Cookies

Parents will also love this idea because instead of making some elaborate treat to bring in they can literally just send in a loaf of bread. Or a package of cheese. Seriously, so easy! And… If parents enjoy making Pinterest worthy treats they can bring one in as a dessert. To be honest, the kids are going to be more wrapped up in the sandwiches they make because it will be so fun! 

Step One: Lay it Out

If I really was a good teacher blogger I would have taken photos of all the food nicely arranged on the table. The problem is I never remember that I could blog about things that happen in the classroom and then I never take pictures. Seriously! I need to get better at it but when I live my teacher life I forget about my teacher blog life sometimes! It happens. So imagine…

You arrange a few sandwich making stations. At the stations are cookie cutters and sandwich ingredients. You make sure that all kids wash their hands and know about these things called germs. We can’t have any nose pickers during sandwich making. That is a sure way to ruin the best party ever! 

Step Two: teach the Kids

This might surprise you, this might not but… kids don’t usually know how to make sandwiches. You must show them. Show them by building your own sandwich and laying down clear ground rules. 

“Ok, diamonds! (I call my firsties diamonds but that is a story for another day) I want to make a sandwich. First I get my bread and I put butter on it. Did you notice how after I put butter on my bread I put the knife right back by the butter? That way someone else can use it next. Then I take the ghost cookie cutter and cut it into the shape of a ghost. Next I want cheese so I grab a slice of cheese. Notice how I tried to only touch what I was going to eat?  I turn the cheese into the ghost and put it on top of my ghost bread. Do you see how I am keeping all my sandwich supplies on my plate. That is so important! Now this is the cool part! I am going to actually make two sandwiches at once! Look at this, I can line up the outsides and there is going to be a ghost in the middle of this sandwich! Look!” 

AHHH!!!! They are going to go crazy here! Two sandwiches! What?! This is essential for the success of your sandwich party. This step is optional and I do show my kids that I can either make two sandwiches or eat as I go. No one is allowed to eat their cute sandwich until they have eaten the scraps. You know your kids. Plan for what will work best for them.

After you go through all the steps show them again that they eat the outside before the inside. There should be no scraps if they are eating the middle. This also partially takes care of the my eyes are bigger than my head situation that might occur during a sandwich making party. If you make it, you must eat it. 

Step Three: Let Them Loose

After you have answered all of the questions and reviewed the process several times let them go off to their sandwich making station. Now you get to walk around and monitor. I could not believe how quiet it was while the sandwich making was happening. We put on music and sang. Now, I don’t believe that parties need to be quiet but they were just so focused! 

 

When the party was over the kids helped clean up. They actually ate all the food they took so we didn’t have huge amounts of waste at the end of the party. AND! They said it was the BEST PARTY EVER!!! I mean, what more do you want? 

Special Thanks

Even though I’m acting like I discovered the sandwich making party I have to give a shout out to my two excellent room parents who planned and executed the best class parties I’ve ever had. So thank you Nancy and Steffi. Those parties were amazing! 

Happy Birthday, Sto Lat, Joyeux Anniversaire- Culturally Inclusive Birthday Celebrations

Happy Birthday, Sto Lat, Joyeux Anniversaire- Culturally Inclusive Birthday Celebrations

Birthdays are so special for kids. Teaching at an international school means that within your classroom there are many different cultures. Don’t think that there aren’t many cultures in your school though! That means there are countless birthday songs and traditions to learn about. One way we work to make birthdays extra special is to sing in as many languages as possible. Kids aren’t put on the spot if they don’t wish to sing in their native language but the opportunity is offered to all kids. This is very important when building a safe space. Students should never be singled out or forced to explain their culture and they should never be asked to speak on behalf of an entire culture.

We always start with English because it is the primary language we use in the classroom. Next, we always sing in Polish because we live in Poland. Last year my class sang every time in English, Polish, French, German, Spanish, Korean, Ukranian, Russian, Flemish, and Mandarin. Every single birthday! It means that you spend a lot of time singing but the kids don’t mind it at all. In fact, it just makes birthdays even more special! This year my class is much smaller but still with a lot of cultural diversity. Now we sing in English, Polish and Hungarian each birthday.

Recently, something exciting happened. We have a student in our class who spoke no English at the start of the school year. Throughout the year this student has gotten better and better at English. This student was sitting on our assistant’s lap (more about that issue here). When I asked if anyone else wanted to sing he rose his hand. I was so excited and so surprised to hear that he wanted to volunteer. He sang in his native language for the first time! My kids were silent and were grinning ear to ear. When he finished they all started clapping and cheering! There were also a lot of thumbs up! It was such a magical moment in our classroom for him, the other kids and for the teachers.

This is just a small but important way to be culturally inclusive within your class.

What do you do to include cultural traditions in your classroom? I would love to hear from you!