Sometimes I think my students come to school completely hollow on the inside. It doesn’t matter what their parents fed them for breakfast. They may have had a six-egg omelette, nine pancakes or a gallon of oatmeal (or all three), but somehow they manage to burn off all calories by the time the bell rings. Other children simply don’t like to eat first thing in the morning. I have no problem with students eating breakfast in the classroom, since I firmly believe that properly nourished students are functioning students. And, honestly, if I didn’t allow students to eat when they need to, I’d be shooting myself in the foot. Anyone who works with children can tell you that it’s impossible to get them to focus on anything when their stomach is sending them “feed me” signals. I can also personally vouch for the bad things that happen when one’s blood-sugar runs low.
Most parents send their children to school with snack. However. Sometimes they forget, sometimes it’s a battle between parent and child (i.e., the parent believes the child is old enough to pack his or her own snack, etc.), and sometimes whatever snack is packed somehow still isn’t enough to get my students through to lunch. Whatever the reasons, hungry children have become prevalent in my classroom. This year I have decided to be proactive. This year, I’m bucking the system. This year, the Upper Elementary classroom is offering snack. I feel like such a rebel!
Just because I’m doing snack, though, doesn’t mean I’m throwing a bag of Goldfish crackers at them and calling it a day. At least, not yet! (Check in with me later in the year; that might change.) I’m trying to tie snack into Practical Life. Things I’ve done:
- We made bread in a bread machine. This, unfortunately, took too long to be snack for the day of. I recommend making the bread for the following day and having a different snack available for the present day.
- They made toast with butter and jam.
- I’ve put out raisins, almonds, apple chips, sunflower seeds, banana chips and/or few other items so the students can assemble their own trail mix.
- I put out apples and an apple slicer.
Things I plan to try:
- Celery and almond butter (with raisins if they want to make ants on a log).
- Apple sandwiches with almond butter, raisins and nuts.
- Rice cakes with almond butter. Almond butter has a lot of vehicles! We use almond butter to avoid issues with peanut allergies.
- Veggies with hummus or possibly a yogurt dip?
- Fruit kabobs with fruit donated by the students.
The idea is to provide snacks that require a little bit of preparation and a minimum of adult supervision. I put out small instruction cards that say how many slices of bread or scoops of raisins, etc. If the students are unfamiliar with a tool (like the apple slicer), often the other students in the classroom are willing to help them. I do have a rule that there only be two people at the snack center at a time. Otherwise, chaos reigns!
Sometimes the students are so excited by the prospect of getting snack that they don’t realize they don’t want it (or don’t like apples). When this happens, they are invited to offer their snack to their classmates. If I have the time, I slice up that piece of toast into small pieces rather than let one person have the whole thing. There are few things cuter than students walking around asking, “Would you like a piece of toast?” The routine of snack is completed with each student washing his or her dishes.
So far, I think snack is a wonderful addition to my classroom.