A New Kind of Class Party

Class Party

This past May, I went to my son’s end-of-year class party and it’s been on my mind ever since.  I’m not sure why this one stands out so much, because it’s similar to every other class party I’ve attended or held in my own classroom, but something about it just didn’t sit well.

Class Party Recap

My son was in a Pre-K class of about 15 children.  The teacher announced the end-of-year party and we all signed up to bring something.  On the day of the party the classroom tabletops were crowded with an enormous amount of food!  There were pizzas, cupcakes, cookies, icecream, pudding, fruit cups, chips, dips, fruit trays, veggie trays, donuts, juice and MORE!  Yes, MORE!  

The other parent helpers and I walked around passing out the different foods that students requested. When I returned to my son, he had on his plate: pizza, a cupcake, a cookie, banana pudding, icecream, fruit, chips, a fruit cup, and juice box.  He ate one bite of pizza, a few bites of the cupcake, drank the juice, ate his grapes, and the rest went in the TRASH.  After the kids finished eating, we cleaned up and the party was over.

Classroom Party Ideas

Class Party Fails!

There are 3 things that bothered me about this experience, as well as about all the class parties I held in my own room.

#1 THE WASTE!  It kills me to think of all the food going straight into the trash (and all the money that bought all that food.)

#2 THE JUNK!  I watched one child eat an entire cupcake covered in 2 inches of red-dyed frosting, a cookie, icecream, chips, and pudding while drinking a juice box.  (She wasn’t into the fruit, veggies, or pizza.) There’s an obesity epidemic in our country and here we are dumping sugar and processed junk into 4 year olds!  Shameful!

#3 THE MESSAGE!  What are we teaching our children? That we celebrate by pigging out on crap and being as wasteful as possible?

And just to be clear, I am not placing blame!  (Except on myself, maybe.)  I have hosted plenty of classroom parties just like the one I described. In fact, I recall throwing 2 dozen donuts in the trash because somehow my class ended up with 4 dozen and no one wanted to take them home.

I know there are teachers out there who have figured out a better way to do school parties! I hope some of you smart people will read this and share your great ideas.  Until then, here’s what I came up with…

A class party should be about celebrating and making memories together, not just eating junk food together. Kids don’t need the junk food to have fun.  Kids just want to do something out of the ordinary and to connect with both their teacher and classmates in a new way!

Class Party Wins!

FOCUS ON PURPOSE

Before your next class party, take a moment to reflect on its PURPOSE.  What are you celebrating?  If you’re throwing a Valentine’s Day Party, what should be the take-away? Showing appreciation for each other?  Friendship?  Kindness? If you’re throwing an end-of-year party, what would you like kids to think about, feel, recognize? Is your purpose to celebrate progress and successes?  Or maybe to appreciate your classmates? Identify your purpose and keep it in the forefront of your mind while planning.

FOCUS ON CREATING MEMORIES

Years later, the kids aren’t going to remember or care about stuffing their faces with sweets, but they WILL remember special moments with their teachers and friends.  Make sure that your party provides plenty of opportunities to create meaningful memories.  This might be through a shared experience, a creative task, a special performance, a ceremony of recognition, or a silly activity.

FOCUS ON NOVELTY

When I think back to times when I saw my students (or my son) MOST excited about something that happened at school, it was simply because they did something out of the ordinary.  Interestingly, it’s usually something simple and inexpensive.  For example, my class was crazy over a pet snake that visited our room for a few days.  And my son used to get so excited in preschool when his teacher would bring a different food to go with each color.  “Today, we ate baby carrots for orange!”

So keep it simple and interesting.  Pick a theme for the party and let students focus on dressing up, creating decorations, or playing games related to the theme, rather than making it all about the food.

A (LIMITED-TIME) FREEBIE TO MAKE LIFE EASIER!

Okay, so I realize that we are teachers and we don’t have time to plan extensive, themed parties. We just might be busy teaching!  In hopes of helping, I’ve created a little Party Planning Pack.  You’ll find a simple party planner template, 12 editable invitations, and links to Pinterest Boards with ideas for 8 themed parties.  Plus, I added a handy letter to send home to parents about your commitment to serving healthy food at school.

 And here’s a sneak peek of the Mad Scientist Party Pinterest Board!  (It’s my favorite party idea!!)

Follow TeacherTrap’s board Class Party Idea: Mad Scientist on Pinterest.

Can’t wait to hear your ideas!

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4 thoughts on “A New Kind of Class Party

  1. Michelle Perron

    Serving food has not been allowed in our schools in MA for a number of years. For different occasions it has become commonplace to have a craft party. We have four second grade classes, so we invite any parents who would like to participate to bring in enough supplies to run a craft station for 20 kids. Then we take over the cafeteria. Parents are set up around the cafeteria. To start we have each parent quickly introduce themselves and their craft. Students then are able to visit a craft station and move onto another as they finish. We also have a large piece of construction paper laid out at the perimeter of the caf for students to put their completed crafts. It’s worked out really well for a number of years.
    After having done a craft celebration at Halloween and Christmas/Hanukkah, I decided that was enough crafts for the time being and chose to play “Minute to Win It” games for Valentine’s Day. (We did use food items like conversation hearts and marshmallows, but it was not eaten-somewhat torturous for the kids, but they had fun so I think they got over it…) I chose 4 games that I thought the kids would like and that were manageable. My room parent recruited 4 parents to buy the supplies for the game and run the station. It worked out really well, was inexpensive for all, and was really fun. The big hit was the Marshmallow Toss. I prepared a red posterboard by drawing on a large heart, cutting out different sized openings, and labeling them with points (more points for smaller holes, fewer points for larger). I hung the posterboard in the doorway and the kids loved tossing the marshmallows. I had them keep score so there was some math involved, too! 🙂

  2. Sara

    We’ve done minute to win it parties the last two school years for both Christmas and the end of the year. The kids and parents LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these activities!!! We are a food allergy aware school so while we may have a small treat (ex. “fancy” goldfish and a drink), the main focus of the party is about having fun!

  3. Anonymous

    Last year at our end-of-the-year classroom party, we played the card game “Ratuki”. I found it at the dollar tree and it sounded fun (great for kids who like to be loud!) I bought each student a game of their own as their end of the year gift. Once they opened it up, I read the directions out loud and one of the parents that was at the party helped explain it even better since they’ve played it while camping before. Then we split into small groups and played away! There was so much laughter and bonding…it was the most fun party we had all year! The kids still talk about it this year (I taught multi-age so I have some of the same kids this year). It was a great alternative to stuffing our faces and being done! Although, we did have healthy snacks and a cake to celebrate the 5th graders “graduation”.