Guest Blog: Lessons for A Healthier Happy Birthday

May 21, 2014

Creative celebrations for a healthier classroom

Today we’re featuring a guest blog from Gricelda Perez, a first-grade bilingual teacher at Ruiz Elementary in Chicago. Ms. Perez was part of HSC’s Fit to Learn professional development program in 2012. Here, she explains an easy way to make classroom celebrations special and healthy.

In my classroom this year, celebrations have turned healthy. Birthdays are especially important to my students, and I have come up with special strategies for this. When a student’s birthday is approaching, I ask his or her parents if they will be celebrating their child’s birthday in the classroom. If so, I explain to them this new healthy alternative: Parents and students are to select a storybook to read in their honor during the day’s read aloud. I encourage parents to come up with a healthy snack instead of cake and cupcakes to go along with the book.

A book with ideas is also sent home for parents. For example, one student chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar to read on her birthday. As a healthy snack, her mother brought in green grapes for students to make caterpillars by putting them on a skewer. For this activity, we talked about how to classify fruits and vegetables (science). We estimated how many grapes were needed to fill up the skewer (math). We discussed parts of the country where grapes are grown (geography).

Parents have come up with many creative ways to connect their child’s favorite story with a healthy snack alternative. One student created a healthy snack from a banana that went along with “Curious George Goes to the Aquarium” and her favorite animal, the octopus.

Parent and students have really enjoyed this new way of celebrating birthdays. It helps create strong communication between the parent and child. Parents often choose to come in to the classroom to celebrate this special day with their children and see how everything worked out. They often express their gratitude at the opportunity to do something special.

Thanks, Ms. Perez, for sharing these wonderful ideas with us!