No, this isn’t going to be one of those posts that try to guilt you into making adorable animal cupcakes from scratch with homemade organic fondant and vegan buttercream frosting. This isn’t that kind of blog.
It’s the end of the year (almost)! And this means end of the year parties, celebrating all the summer birthdays in class, and honestly just trying to make it through until the last day.
Food helps with that. All kids like treats, especially when the food is sweet, sticky, melty, or frosted. Actually, teachers like treats, too. But you might not know it based on how we react to the suggestion that a parent bring food into class.
Cupcakes in class
Here is what you picture:
One of the primary reasons that teachers shy away from classroom snacks is that often they just get too hard to deal with.
For a birthday treat (one snack and/or drink from one child) means rearranging a tight schedule to fit in the passing out and eating of the treat. That takes about 10 minutes.
After that though? It’s a mess.
The trash can is piled high with the detritus of cupcakes, popsicles, or juice boxes. Crumbs and frosting are ground into the carpet. Their fingers are so sticky as they touch all of the things in my classroom.
Once the room stops resembling the aftermath of a tornado hitting a bakery, getting the kids back on track requires all of my best teacher tricks. “One, two, three, eyes on me!” “Clap if you can hear me!” “Is anyone listening?” “Let’s finish our read aloud book!”
Eventually, I realize that this is a lost cause and sigh deeply as I resort to basic crowd control. “Hey! We do NOT belly bump with backpacks!” “You, over there, stop climbing the bookshelves!”
It’s why I have a firm policy about middle of the day special food things. It’s quite simply, “No!” I say it with love. I’ll negotiate on the right before the bell stuff though. I really like cupcakes.
Perfecting the Art of the Drop
So, you ARE getting to bring a snack to class. Cool! Thank your teacher by bringing a giant coffee.
Now, here is how a snack for the class should go:
You have the food brought to class: in the morning as students go to class, at lunch, or at the very end of the day
You leave and do not stay
Every second of a teacher’s day, even their prep periods and lunch breaks, is carefully planned to optimize student learning. This means that on birthdays and class party days, even those events that are structured to take up the least amount of time possible. So, it’s important to respect that time.
Drop the food and leave. Unless you are staying to help with the mass chaos that is class parties. If so, bless you!
Sometimes, food has to be kept out of classrooms for safety reasons.
Allergies are a HUGE issue in schools right now. As someone who suffers from serious, but not life threatening allergies, I can tell you how awful and scary an allergy attack is. And while I have to actually eat dairy products to react, other people just need to touch residue or inhale particles of their allergens.
Having food brought into the classroom can be a very dangerous situation, and it can turn deadly fast. Even children who don’t have a known allergy can have a serious and swift reaction without warning.
If your school or teacher has a policy against food in the classroom, please respect that.
Classroom Snacks Best Practice
Hooray! You can bring snack to class!
But before you rush to Pinterest to plan that next birthday treat, let’s review some best practice tips.
- No nuts, ever. Even if no one in the classroom has a nut allergy, someone in the school might. Just a tiny amount of nut residue on playground equipment or on a door handle can trigger a reaction.
- Keep it simple. Pick one thing, just one thing. If you want to do cupcakes, get store made pre-frosted cupcakes. Don’t do frost your own. If you want to send something cold, skip the ice cream sundaes and stick to fudgesicles or popsicles.
- No multi-part snacks. Again, just ONE thing. Not a cookie and a candy bar and a juice box.
- Individually created anything, with something unique for each child, is a recipe for disaster. Someone will get upset about what they have or don’t have. Or that your child’s friends have better goodies than other people.
- Bring enough for everyone. If there are extras, for example 24 cupcakes and 22 students, make it clear that those extras are for the teacher(s). No one gets double.
- Don’t bring it to the lunch room. The lunchroom seems like a great idea. After all, that is where food is served and eaten, right? Stay far away. Remember #5: bring enough for everyone? Other classes seeing that your child is passing out a treat might ask for one. Or your child might want to share treats with friends in different classes, but not everyone in every class. Do you see where this gets dicey? Some kids get a treat, and others do not.
- Try to avoid the mess. Almost every sweet treat is messy in some way. But some are messier than others. Popsicles, unless eaten outside, can create sticky drips. Cupcake frosting can smear all over clothes and carpets. Cookies can smush into crumbs easily. But try to keep that in mind. Or send in napkins and baby wipes to help with clean-up.
At the end of the day, classroom snacks can be super controversial and cause issues. This teacher’s advice: steer clear or keep it as clean as possible.
How does your school or classroom deal with snacks?