Healthy Celebrations in School-Do Yours Need a Make-over?
Submitted by Champion and KSC Dietetic Intern, Christina Ferraiuolo
From birthday parties to holiday parties- there are many opportunities for students to celebrate during the school year! Classroom celebrations are a lot of fun but often come with unhealthy foods-from sweets and sugary drinks, to high fat and salty snacks. School parties can be an opportunity to teach children about making healthy choices. As teachers, parents, and peers, we want to be good role models, promote healthful food, and acknowledge that eating some goodies during celebrations is okay, in moderation!
A healthy learning environment for children includes food choices during classroom activities and snack time. Healthful foods are delicious and can satisfy the things we love about food. Fruits can fulfill cravings for sweet, vegetables give a satisfying crunch and can accompany a creamy dip, and whole grains like popcorn provide a crisp snack with seasoning and flavor.
The Classroom Celebration Make-Over is an initiative that adds active games to every party and recommends delicious healthy snacks and drinks for the celebration. Class parties have a more structured snack list for parents to support the healthful eating strategies schools want to implement. Planners might include one less healthful “treat” item per occasion. This approach supports a learning environment that encourages healthy eating and fun physical activity without completely eliminating treats from parties.
The third grade classes as Symonds Elementary School inspired a toolkit in order to help teachers and parents get started. This includes signup sheets, menus, ideas for healthy snacking, and ways to involve children in party planning. Click here to see a sample signup sheet from the toolkit. The full toolkit will be posted after final feedback from the teachers.
Starting in the classroom, we can teach children healthful eating and celebration strategies to support what they learn in health class and establish positive lifelong behaviors.