School party ideas are best when they are centered around one classroom party rule:
Keep Them Short, Keep Them Fun
...So You Can Keep Learning
Some school party ideas take up half the teaching day. It's simply not necessary; learn to run an efficient classroom party that kids will love.
Wait...who brought the noise-makers?!
The first rule: As with everything in your classroom, parties are held on your terms according to your rules. This is not a time to sit back and relax while the kids pursue their own agenda.
The second rule: Every classroom party must help build your classroom community, forming your students into a more cohesive group of learners. There are lots of ways that parties can work against team-building; see the other pages in this section to keep your fun classroom activities on the right track.
The final rule: All school party ideas must either serve an educational goal or be so short as not to impact educational goals.
Meeting Educational Goals
You know your grade level curriculum best, so you know if you can fit in a science or social studies unit to match the themes of the two fall parties. For example:
You get the picture. Don't just put the party down on your planning calendar as a separate event...think in advance about how you can tie it into your curriculum. There's never a moment to waste when educating our children!
Keeping Them Short
Non-birthday parties should be limited to 30 minutes - no more! - at the end of the day. That includes 20 minutes of partying and 10 minutes of clean up.
I'm going to sound very authoritarian here, but this is my position: Under no circumstances - even on the last day before winter break - should a party last all afternoon. If we are meeting educational goals, we have no time at all for such an extended break and classroom behavior management will spiral out of control.
Remember: These kids get to hang out and watch videos with their friends at home...they aren't missing out if they don't get to do it at school as well.
I will readily admit that it's not always easy to tie curriculum into Valentines and birthdays. These parties, therefore, become primarily about building up your classroom team's social community.
Valentines and birthdays are not-to-be-missed opportunities to reinforce habits of politeness and social grace...my pages will give you school party ideas that will help you achieve these goals.
Childhood obesity is dramatically increasing and I have a big problem with schools being part of the problem. (Don't get me started on the "food" they serve at school lunch!) So party time in my room means keeping it as healthy as possible. Be a realist; not everything has to be nuts and carrot sticks, but you should not be hosting a junk-fest.
If parents want ideas on healthy snacks, advise them to keep them simple:
We must bend this rule for birthdays. We can control what we ask parents to send for holiday parties, but not for birthdays. Just accept that and use the ideas on my birthday party page to manage whatever shows up.
By the way...if non-healthy foods come to class, that's OK. If you have zip-top bags, send kids home with treat bags. We do not want to throw away anything donated by a parent or send it back untouched...that's just rude. The point is to keep them healthy in school.
Some rooms are overflowing with parent volunteers (and some even bring their own school party ideas)...other teachers can't get a single one all year long. It primarily depends on the jobs held by your parents, and either situation is OK. You can manage alone, just like you can manage messy science experiments on your own.
If parents do show up, use them for these tasks:
REMEMBER: Don't ask parents to manage students...perhaps especially their own.
Parents are most commonly involved in sending food in for a classroom party, and you can actually support them a bit by keeping items in your room that they normally don't think to send, even for birthdays:
Fun Classroom Activities Must Always End with Clean Up
Add at least 5 minutes to any classroom party schedule to ensure that the kids have time to clean up. You don't really want to clean up after them, do you? And if it's faces that are messy, they need a minute to go to the bathroom so they don't carry food home on their faces.
I think it's a good idea to add one more item to your classroom supply list:
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