Non-food Ideas for Non-Curricular Celebrations/Rewards, Birthdays and non-curricular activities

  • Non-food Ideas for Non-Curricular Celebrations/Rewards, Birthdays and other non-curricular activities

    (e.g. school-wide festivals and holiday parties) have become traditional DASD school activities through the years. While we maintain our traditions, providing a food treat in the classroom for parties or as a reward creates unintended negative consequences. Food excludes some children from participating when they experience food allergies, diabetes, or other dietary restrictions. The practice also encourages children to eat when they aren’t hungry and to internalize food as a reward mechanism, which is a contributing factor to childhood obesity.

    Additionally, encouraging parents to send in an alternative item excludes children whose families aren’t able to make the financial commitment needed to purchase items. 

    To maintain our DASD traditions without negatively impacting students, below is a nonexclusive list of non-food/no cost alternatives to keep celebrations/rewards special:

    1. Invite a guest reader to the class.

    2. Arrange for the students to play a game. As an added bonus, invite a special guest to come in and play with the students.

    3. Provide extra recess in honor of a student’s birthday.

    4. Arrange a treasure hunt around the classroom for the student. Consider tying it to a theme that has a curricular tie.

    5. Provide the student time for show and tell on their birthday.

    6. Have the students work on a community service project together, like writing letters to a soldier serving overseas: https://kidactivities.net/community-service-ideas-for-kids-all-ages/

    7. Have the student lead the whole class in a dance: hokey pokey; chicken dance, booty slide. Invite the nurse or counselor or principal to join in the dancing!

    8. Extra art time; do a special craft together; create something to take home.

    9. Let the student choose to be the helper of the day or line leader for the day.

    10. Offer the student the opportunity to eat lunch with an important person (e.g. Principal, Superintendent).

    11. Permit the student to take a walk around school grounds with a special staff person.

    12. Take a fun physical activity break as a class – hula hoop contest, jump rope contest, relay race

    13. Teacher, principal, nurse, etc performs a special skill (singing, cartwheel, etc.) or agrees to do something silly (get slimed, wears funny shirt for a day, kiss a pig...).

    14. Permit the class to listen to music while working.

    15. Give a certificate to the student commending their achievement.

    16. Maintain a photo recognition board in a prominent location in the school.

    17. Recognize a child’s or the class’s achievement using the morning announcements and/or the school or classroom website. Develop the philosophy of excluding the food and the financial cost, rather than excluding the student!!!