Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Non-Edible School Birthday Treat Ideas

The Littlest Pickle turns seven today.  SEVEN!  How did she get that old already?  While I'm in denial that my "baby" is growing, she's been counting down to the big day for over a month.  

34 more days!

22 more days!

8 more days!

2 more days!

1 more day!

Well...guess what?


I'm very excited to celebrate that little bundle of love.  We had a few scares during my pregnancy where I thought I was going to lose her.  When she finally arrived, I remember staring at her thinking she's here.  She's here!  She's really, really here.  Not only is she really, really here, but her birthday is finally here, too!    

Since the Littlest Pickle will be in school on her birthday, she asked if she could bring in some treats, like cupcakes or muffins, to celebrate.  Her classmates have brought in treats during the year, but I'm not a big fan of edible treats in school.  With the array of food allergies and the precautions parents and school staff must make, I do not want cause any extra work, confusion, discomfort, or be the one whose cupcakes trigger an allergic reaction.  

Non-edible school birthday treats may not be as exciting as frosted-covered cupcakes, but they can be just as fun to receive.  So, without completely squashing the Littlest Pickle's birthday treat idea, we thought about some other fun things she could bring to school.    

First on the list...bubbles!

I LOVE BUBBLES.  So does the Littlest Pickle :)

I think her classmates will like them, too. Luckily, they're cheap!  I went to local dollar store and picked up a few bottles.  What a steal!  They were 3/$1. 

Bubbles can be more than just be something fun to play with; they can also help build skills.  Blowing bubbles can encourage eye-hand coordination, motor planning and oral-motor skills as well as encourage sustained attention.  If used outside, bubble play can help a child work on other skills like running (when they chase a bubble), jumping (as they reach up to pop a bubble), turn taking and collaborative play (when they play with a classmate).  Bubbles may be a little bit messy, but they can make some kids and some teachers really, really happy.  

Another fun thing I found at the dollar store were bouncy balls.  Warning: even though these are SUPER fun to play with, they have the potential to be lost rather quickly.  But if the kids get to take the bouncy balls out at recess, at 5/$1, you're not breaking the bank if the bouncy balls don't make it back into the classroom.  (I'd suggest sending in an extra packet or two for the kids who do lose their bouncy ball.)  
Third on the list of alternative birthday treat ideas: jump ropes.  Kids can use them for several games - traditional jump rope, Helicopter, or double dutch for experienced jump roping kiddos.  You'll catch a good deal if your dollar store sells them in bundles of two for a dollar.  

My kids love to be outside.  Those first three ideas can be used both inside and outside and will promote playing, moving, and exercising.  

The next idea isn't going to get the kids moving and grooving, but it can spark their imagination.  And get them writing - that's a good thing!

The next alternative birthday treat idea:  pads of paper and pencils.  Pads were priced at 3/$1, and pencils were 12/$1.  Score!

Eons ago, back when I was still teaching 2nd grade, I went to a conference for 2nd grade teachers.  One of the workshops I went to was all about getting kids to write.  The presenter said that if we wanted to get our students to write, we should give them paper that was not 8.5" x 11".  Anything but a piece of loose leaf paper or one that looked like a worksheet.  She added that we should also give them anything but a traditional yellow #2 pencil--let them use multi-colored pencils, pens, and markers.  And a stapler.  Kids love to staple paper together.  Sure enough.  She was right.  My 2nd graders loved to use fun-sized notepads, zebra-striped pencils, pens with green ink, purple ink, orange ink.  They stapled papers together to make books.  Then they wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote in those books.  Their imagination was sparked, and they kept themselves motivated.  

The dollar store has oodles of pens, pencils, and different-sized note pads that can be used in place of an edible birthday treat at school.  Oh, and stickers.  With younger kiddos, you can't go wrong with stickers.  You can find them 2- or 4-sheets/$1. 

Those are some easy and inexpensive alternative birthday treat ideas that would be ideal for the early grades.  Other inexpensive non-edible birthday treat ideas that can cross over to the older grades are:

* sending in a bucket of sidewalk chalk and asking you child's classmates write a birthday message on the blacktop
* sending in art supplies like stickers, construction paper, and glue sticks for future art activities
* replacing recess toys that are starting to see wear and tear
* donating a book in your child's name to the school library 
* donating a board game that can be used during indoor recess

Parents of food-sensitive kiddos, like me, would prefer non-edible school birthday treats.  The best part about non-edible birthday treats?  Students, teachers and parents don't have to worry about hyperactivity from food coloring, tummy aches from food intolerances, or dangerous nut, dairy, gluten, or soy allergies.  

The last non-edible school birthday treat idea is for the parents.  I know a lot of parents love to be at school to spend part of the school day with their child on their birthday.  The parent might ask to volunteer in the classroom or in the cafeteria.  They may want to be the playground monitor that day.  They may come to visit after recess and read their child's favorite story to the class.  Those are all things I would love to do with each of my children on their birthdays.  But because of Ronan's health issues, I don't have the chance to volunteer very much.  My kids wished I did.  I wished I did.  If I had the time, I'd make it a point to volunteer on their birthdays, including on the Littlest Pickle's birthday today.  

Fortunately, the Littlest Pickle is aware that Mommy can't always be there for the fun stuff.  She knows she'll have a great day today with her friends even if I'm not there.  And I know she'll also have a great time with the bubbles, too.  Bubbles, bubbles everywhere.  That's the non-edible birthday treat she decided to bring in today.  I can't wait to hear all about it!

xo, Cat


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