Mrs. Bainbridge is hosting a Snack Time Success Stories Linky Party!
Over the years, my snack time method has evolved. I began my career with no snack (our lunch time was really early!). Then I moved on to having students bring their own "healthy" snack, but I always had students who forgot their snack or brought something horrible, like candy or doughnuts. Since they were first graders, I felt like too much of a meanie to just say "too bad" so I ended up buying about a zillion bags of animal crackers that year for the students who had either forgotten their snack or brought something too unhealthy.
Then I moved on to a monthly snack calendar, which I still use. Each student is assigned one day per month, and if there are extra days, I cover them or we have "leftover days." I send home a note in my parent packet at the beginning of the year explaining our snack procedure, asking about dietary restrictions, and also giving parents the option to not participate (I have never had anyone take this option though!). I have even included a list of approved snacks for the past few years, and asked parents who would like to send something that is not on the list to please contact me. I know this sounds a little control freak-ish, but our school is trying hard to move toward healthier eating, and it is a long list of healthy and inexpensive options. It has worked really well for me. Do parents always send something from the list? No, and that's ok. I had a parent this year who was an *amazing* baker and if she wanted to send baked goods for every snack, that was just fine with me (in fact, I may or may not have
begged for suggested some sweet treats from her this year!). I believe in teaching students that it is healthy to indulge in a treat now and then. But it does give parents some ideas for snacks that are kid friendly and healthy, and mostly eliminates the Little Debbies and cookies on a daily basis. If you take a look at my list and think of something that I can add to it, let me know! I'm always looking for new options :)
The part of my snack that I am most excited about though, is the procedure. FINALLY, after 10 years of teaching, I feel like I have a good system - and I copied it from my son's Montessori classroom! I always loved observing in his preschool, watching the little 18 month old students serve themselves snack. They had learned the procedures and were so well trained that there was virtually no mess, and no fuss. They served themselves snack, ate it, and cleaned up - without any help from the teacher. I had an AHA moment - if children under two can serve themselves snack, why can't my first graders? So, that's what I moved to this past year, and I absolutely loved it.
We didn't have a set snack time where all of my students were eating; rather, during their Daily 5 "Read to Self" choice (which had to be done daily), they were allowed to serve themselves snack and eat it while they read. I would place the snacks on a designated table, and the students knew where to get their snack from. If it was pre-packaged they knew to take one; if it was something like goldfish or pretzels I would put Dixie cups and hand sanitizer out and the students could scoop one cupful. They were responsible for cleaning up after themselves when they were finished, as well as reading AND eating (if they weren't reading, they knew they'd have to get rid of their snack - this was threat enough to inspire multi-tasking!). If we had an especially messy or involved snack (like cupcakes, or meatballs - we had both!), we would just revert back to eating all at the same time for that day to avoid damaging our books, carpet, etc.
Like I said, I loved my snack procedure for so many reasons. Most importantly, it took much less time, as the students were reading and eating at the simultaneously. I used to allot 10 minutes for snack, which never seemed like enough time. Now, students had their whole Read to Self time to eat, and could choose when they were hungry to complete their Read to Self choice. It also put the responsibility for the snack on the students, rather than on me, so I was free to work with groups instead of monitor how many goldfish crackers each student was taking. I really did not have any problems with students taking too much, or trying to get seconds - and I think if that happened, the other students would have let me know :)
I know this is a long post, but I hope it helps inspire some of you to turn the responsibility of snack over to your students. With good modeling at the beginning of the year, I am sure you can teach your students to self-serve and save yourself TONS of time! If you have a unique snack idea, or just want to read more about other snack procedures, visit Mrs. Bainbridge's linky party!