Schools can help promote a positive learning environment by providing healthy celebrations that shift the focus from food to the children. Choose a variety of activities, games and crafts that children enjoy. When food is served, make it count with healthy choices. Parties can even incorporate a fun nutrition lesson by involving children in the planning and preparation of healthy snacks. Try these ideas for fun activities and healthy foods at school parties and other celebrations.

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    Activities to Celebrate Children

    *Plan special party games and activities. Ask parents to provide game supplies, pencils, erasers, stickers and other small school supplies instead of food.

    *Create a healthy party idea book. Ask school staff and parents to send in healthy recipes and ideas for activities, games and crafts. Compile these ideas into a book that staff and parents can use.

    *Give children extra recess time instead of a class party. For birthdays, let the birthday child choose

    and lead an active game for everyone.

    *Provide special time with the principal or another adult, such as taking a walk around the school at recess.

    *Instead of food, ask parents to purchase a book for the classroom or school library in the birthday child’s name. Read it to the class or invite the child’s parents to come in and read it to the class.

    *Instead of a party, organize a special community service project, e.g., invite senior citizens in for lunch, make “curechiefs” for chemotherapy patients or blankets for rescue dogs. Involve parents in planning the project and providing needed materials.

    *Create a “Celebrate Me” book. Have classmates write stories or poems and draw pictures to describe what is special about the birthday child.

    *Create a special birthday event. The birthday child wears a sash and crown, sits in a special chair and visits the principal’s office for a special birthday surprise, such as a pencil, sticker or birthday card.

    *The birthday child is the teacher’s assistant for the day, and gets to do special tasks like make deliveries to office, lead the line, start an activity or choose a game or story.

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    Healthy Food Ideas

    *Low-fat or nonfat milk, 100% juice, water, flavored/sparkling water (without added sugars or sweeteners), sparkling punch (seltzer and 100% fruit juice)

    *Fruit smoothies (blend frozen berries, bananas and pineapple) or fruit and low-fat yogurt smoothies

    *Fresh fruit assortment, fruit and cheese kabobs, fruit salad, sliced fruit with low-fat yogurt dip

    * Dried fruit without added sugars or sweeteners

    * Vegetable trays with low-fat dip, celery and carrots with peanut butter and raisins

    *Whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese cubes, string cheese or hummus

    *Whole-grain waffles or pancakes topped with fruit

    * Pretzels, low-fat popcorn, rice cakes, bread sticks, graham crackers and animal crackers

    *Angel food cake, plain or topped with fruit

    * Whole-grain bagel slices with peanut butter or jam, low-fat whole-grain muffin, whole wheat English muffins and hot pretzels

    * Pizza with low-fat toppings (vegetables, lean ham, Canadian bacon), pizza dippers with marinara sauce

    *Ham or turkey sandwiches or wraps with low-fat cheese and low-fat, low-sodium condiments

    * Low-fat pudding, low-fat yogurt, squeezable yogurt, yogurt smoothies, yogurt parfaits or banana splits (low-fat yogurt and fruit topped with whole-grain cereal, granola or crushed graham crackers)

    * Quesadillas or bean burritos with salsa

    *Low-fat whole-grain granola bars

    * Low-fat whole-grain tortilla chips with salsa or bean dip

    * Trail or cereal mix (whole-grain,low-sugar cereals mixed with dried fruit and pretzels)

    *Nuts and seeds without added fat

    *Check for food allergies before serving.


    Connecticut State Deparment of Education-May 2005 (Revised November 2011)