Healthy Birthday Treat Letter

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Jun 2, 2014

    Does anyone have a nice letter to parents about healthy/alternative birthday treats?

    I am so sick of cupcakes!!! I understand that students really love them, but I loathe them. The main reason is that I see a huge difference in focus and behavior shortly after students eat them. They truly have a "sugar high." They area also very messy, and my classroom has carpet (not to mention, no one sends napkins!). The worst part is that on really warm days, like today, the frosting melts if we don't eat them right away (no air conditioning!).

    I want to send a letter home next fall, but I'm worried that parents will get upset.
     
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  3. live

    live Companion

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    I'm with ya! Early in the year, I politely mentioned it in a newsletter and at back-to-school night. And yet, the cupcakes are endless...

    I told them that they are welcome to bring healthy treats for birthdays, and explained the reasoning.

    Next year I'll include a list of alternatives to cupcakes, hoping (yet doubting) that the problem is that they just don't know what else to bring. Not sure if that'll work, since clearly cupcakes are beloved, expected, and convenient.
     
  4. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Jun 3, 2014

    I've been working on the letter, and here is what I drafted so far:

    Many children enjoy sharing a treat with classmates on their birthday, and cupcakes seem to be the most popular choice. This year I encourage you to choose an alternative treat for the following reasons:
    -Cupcakes can be messy, and difficult to clean up, because our classroom is carpeted.
    -It takes about 15-20 minutes to pass out, eat, and clean up the cupcakes. Children usually complete math or literacy tasks during snack time, but it is difficult to work while eating cupcakes. We typically have cupcakes at least 12 times per year, which adds up to around 200 lost minutes of instructional time.
    -When it is warm outside, cupcake icing melts, which is very messy.
    -Most children do not finish their cupcakes, so they end up being thrown out.
    -Children are often unfocused after eating cupcakes.

    If your child has his or her heart set on cupcakes, by all means send them. However, I encourage you to start a new tradition by considering an alternative, such as:
    -Gogurt
    -Individual ice cream cups
    -Rice Krispie Treats
    -Pencils
    -Donate a book to our classroom library


    Does anyone have other suggestions for alternative treats?
     
  5. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I would honestly say NO cupcakes. Individual packages of cookies, popcorn, pretzels, ect. Nothing with frosting. I know you're trying to be nice but many parents will probably ignore this if their child whines enough about the cupcakes. And add something about napkins!
     
  6. laperla618

    laperla618 Rookie

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    Please don't include pencils or books in your list! as a mom and a teacher, this is a teacher wish list not a birthday treat. I know how you feel but don't attack the cupcake, attack the frosting!! lol you can ask parents that instead of cupcakes bring brownies, cookies, a giant cookie (those are popular and are not covered in frosting maybe just the message part) ice cream will melt, it will be as messy as a frosting.

    Another thing you can do is ask the parents to bring all birthday treats at THE END of the day, not during recess, not during instructional time, definitely not first thing in the morning. If you know in advance that is a child's birthday and the parents want to celebrate it at school with his/her friends then you can plan for that day and reserve the last 30 min. of class just for the party. That way you know that students don't have to go back to class after been "sugar highed".
    Another idea... allergies! (you don't know how many times I've play this card!!) ;) but it is true some students ae allergic to peanuts, dairy etc. if frosting is an issue say that you have students that are allergic to dairy to please don't send any items with it. Parents understand this and they won't ask too many questions they will take your word. Then this way you can offer other alternaties like puddin cups, lollipops etc.
    This is my best advice to you. Remember some students spend more time with you than with their own parents/families... don't think of their birthday celebration as a burden but find ways to make it enjoyable not for you but for the child and his/her friends.
    You can do this!! Good luck!! :thumb:
     
  7. laperla618

    laperla618 Rookie

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    Jun 3, 2014

    and yes... Napkins, they need to bring napkins that goes without saying!!
     
  8. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    The pencils are for the students, though. For example, they might choose to buy the class a happy birthday pencil, a spiderman pencil, etc. This would be something that they could take home or use at school. They wouldn't be providing pencils for the class stash or anything.

    I've had many students donate books, and they think it's really exciting. They write their name inside with a message. Whenever I read donated books I say, "This was donated by Natalie in 2008. She's an 8th grader now!" They think it's pretty neat. In my classroom, books are sometimes better than treats. They go crazy over new books! I definitely don't "need" more-I have over 2,000. ;)
     
  9. laperla618

    laperla618 Rookie

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    I see, then if this is something your parents know about then more power to you. I don't think they would be frowning about the fact that you would rather have books donated to your class if they know your classroom is brought up this way :)
     
  10. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Most of my students take the bus, so parents deliver birthday treats first thing in the morning. That allows me to choose when I'm going to serve them, but my schedule doesn't always allow for me to do it at the end of the day.

    I don't see celebrating birthdays as a "burden." We celebrate in different ways, such as the birthday child choosing the read-aloud for the day, wearing a crown, singing happy birthday, singing a card, and picking out a free book.

    It's not a letter about celebrating birthdays. It's a letter about offering alternative choices to a very messy and unhealthy treat. ;)
     
  11. cafekarma

    cafekarma Rookie

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    My old school forbid cupcakes and all other cakes (I hate it when I'm left to cut a big messy cake), but we allowed 2-bite cupcakes and brownies. They didn't feel like a healthy alternative. They were still yummy! Kids didn't get nutso after eating them, so they worked out great.
     
  12. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I had one student bring in mini cupcakes, which were perfect! Just enough. So many kids just lick the frosting off of those big cupcakes and throw the rest away anyway!
     
  13. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    When I taught third grade, I did a monthly birthday celebration. We would just take about 20-30 minutes at the end of the day one time a month. All of the students who had birthdays that month could bring a treat. I let parents know ahead of time that birthday treats should be brought for the monthly celebration and not on the actual birthday. It worked really well for me. A few times a parent didn't listen, but very rarely. And when they did bring something in without asking, I passed it out at the end of the day. I never had any parent complaints.
     
  14. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I always handed them out at the end of the day. Maybe you could only hand out the cupcakes at the end; if it was another type of treat, do that during your instructional time. Don't say that, but just plan it that way.

    I like the monthly birthday celebration idea!
     
  15. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Our district banned all food for birthdays. I had about 1/3 of the kids who brought in pencils, cute erasers, highlighters, etc. Everyone seemed fine with it.
     
  16. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    You could put to help keep your classroom neater that large cupcakes are simply too much.
    -What about grahamfuls (graham crackers with different fillings...prepackaged like a sandwich)
    - Mini muffins?
     
  17. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    My kids LOVE fruit kabobs. I always have a couple bring those in.

    Also, they love frozen Gogurts--then they are almost like a popsicle.

    We had snack time this year because of extended days to make up instructional time lost to snow days, and these were their favorite "healthy" treats--but I even had kids bring them in for birthday treats!
     
  18. Splasher

    Splasher Rookie

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    Ha, this got me thinking. I remember when I was in 4th grade, my mom literally brought the entire class chicken nuggets and fries from McDonalds on my birthday. The teacher did not seem too pleased by that if I remember correctly.
     
  19. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    It seems like someone did that in a class I was in or I was subbing in the class...but I do remember that.

    I think when I was subbing in a school someone's mom brought all the kids lunch...pizza!!!
     
  20. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I also do a monthly birthday celebration because I got tired of all the sugar highs.
     
  21. beckyeduk8er

    beckyeduk8er Comrade

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    Birthday Menu

    Our district has adopted a wellness policy and doesn't allow treats. We send out a birthday menu for the kiddos to choose from

    I was't sure how it would go but the kids did great with it and were happy to choose. Each teacher could personalize the menu to fit their comfort level (for example some didn't offer art, dance party, etc.)

    I have really come to love it. I send home the menu about a week before the child's birthday for them to choose from. The most popular choices we lunch with a guest, extra recess, and free choice time.

    Here is what is on our menu
    XX Schools is striving to help our students make healthier lifestyle choices.
    There is an increasing number of children in our schools who have food allergies. Some food allergies can be life-threatening. We want to team with parents to limit the possibilities for children being made ill from food brought into classrooms.
    In addition, approximately 30% of children in STATE are overweight or obese. Sometimes simple steps now can help children continue making healthier choices as adults.

    XX Schools is instituting a healthier birthday initiative. Instead of sweet treats on every student’s birthday, we are offering students an opportunity to choose an activity from this menu for their birthday treat.

    PLEASE READ THROUGH THE CHOICES IN THIS MENU AND HELP YOUR CHILD DECIDE WHICH HE/SHE WOULD LIKE TO DO FOR HIS/HER BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION. WE WANT TO HONOR EACH STUDENT IN A SPECIAL WAY!

    BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS
    We would like to encourage your support for this change in birthday celebrations. We realize that kids want to feel special on their birthday which is why they will get to choose a special activity from this birthday menu.
    If there is something your child would like to do that is not listed, please contact the teacher. Activities that can be done in a 15 minute time frame are fine.

    Choices: (Each teacher lists the ones they are comfortable with doing in their classroom)
    Dance party The birthday student may bring a favorite CD from home (ALL SONG LYRICS AND TOPICS MUST BE APPROPRIATE) or choose a classroom favorite to play while the class dances!

    Game time-During Game Time, the class will have 15 minutes to play a favorite math, literacy, or other game. The birthday student is also welcome to bring a favorite game from home.

    Guest Read Aloud-The birthday student may choose a special guest and/or a special book to be read aloud to the class. The guest reader could be a family member, relative, or a school staff member.

    Extra Recess-The class will enjoy 15 minutes of extra outside recess (if weather-permitting).

    Computer Time-The birthday student will enjoy 15 minutes of extra computer time.

    Special Craft-The birthday student may choose a craft that he or she would like to lead the class in creating. The project should be able to be completed in 15 minutes. The child’s family is responsible for sending all necessary supplies.

    Indoor Free time-The class will enjoy 15 minutes of extra indoor free time. This includes classroom toys, drawing, reading, etc.

    Lunch with Guest-The birthday student may spend lunchtime eating with parent, relative, teacher, or other special person.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO __________________________

    My birthday is on:


    I’d like to have my birthday activity on:
    (Date)

    For my activity, I am choosing:

    My family will supply:
    (if necessary)

    I need you to supply:
    (common items like glue, markers, etc. can be provided by teacher)
     
  22. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Thanks, beckyeduk8er-I love this! I really wish my school/district would go this route. We have a school garden, and a nutrition club, so it's pretty ironic that we don't have any policies regarding treats. I think these activities would be more fun (and memorable) than eating a cupcake!
     
  23. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Can you wait until the end of the day?

    I hate how messy frosting is, plus I hate sugar highs. I always do birthday treats at the end of the day. I just carve 15 minutes out of something.
     
  24. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I've only had 1 parent per year bring anything in for a child's birthday so it's not a big deal for me.
     
  25. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I think if something is a district ban it goes over better than one teacher deciding to ban something, especially in schools where there are multiple teachers for a single grade. It causes animosity in that case because the child and/or the parent feels they got stuck with the teacher who doesn't allow fun and makes all kinds of his or her own rules.

    Could you imagine the English department head deciding that no food will be brought to the meeting anymore when the Math department is heading into the room afterward with a food party in hand and the only difference is one person's decision to ban the "fun".
     
  26. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    We don't allow anything for birthdays either. Once a month all kids with a birthday during that month eat lunch with the principals and receive a cupcake and birthday treat.
     
  27. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Asking not to send cupcakes isn't an example of banning fun.
     
  28. Splasher

    Splasher Rookie

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    Of course it is :lol:
     
  29. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    If kids need food to have fun there are bigger issues at hand.
     
  30. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Agreed!

    And in my original post, I never mentioned banning anything...I just wanted to give parents options other than cupcakes. It's getting to the point where they aren't even "special" anymore, and I think most parents just buy them because they feel like they have to.
     
  31. Flanny108

    Flanny108 Rookie

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    I write something in my note in September about how many times the cupcakes are wasted and that mini cupcakes are a good alternative. That has really helped to cut down on the regular sized cupcakes. I think when they know that their money is wasted that they are more willing to buy the little ones. When we do get them I pass them out on their way into the cafeteria. That only takes a few extra minutes.
     
  32. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    It will be seen that way if all other teachers allow cupcakes and one does not. The one that sets a different rule will be seen as disallowing fun.
     
  33. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    That may be the case, but that is a different argument.
     
  34. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    This is really a great solution. It takes away the major messiness of eating a large cupcake and still allows "cake" the traditional birthday treat to be given to the students.
     
  35. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    But I'm not saying that they can't have them. I'm just offering alternative ideas.

    I almost want to start a new thread, because this has become an endless debate that has been started over and over and over again on this forum.

    All I was asking for was letter ideas, and alternative suggestions. I didn't want to have this discussion. No one needs to convince me otherwise-I'm sending a note home offering alternatives for parents to cupcakes. The draft I posted even states that parents can absolutely send cupcakes, but here are some other ideas.

    Sorry, this wasn't directed at you, a2z, even though I began the post by quoting you. I'm just really frustrated that it has become a debate on whether or not cupcakes should be banned. That's not even what I'm doing. :dizzy:
     
  36. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jun 9, 2014

    I believe your comment from your potential letter, " This year I encourage you to choose an alternative treat " made many people think that you really want to ban them without actually banning them. The wishy-washy ban. The I-can't-stop-you-but-I-won't-be-happy ban. The real tone is, you want to ban them.

    I know that is why I indicated that the poster who mentioned mini-cupcakes has the best alternative. You can add the other things as alternatives, but if you really want to eliminate the mess, the mini ones are a great idea.

    The hard part for this post is that your original post was very against cupcakes and the letter was more of a passive aggressive way of saying you don't want them. So, you really need to decide, what are your parameters. Is it really the sugar high you are trying to eliminate which you mentioned in the OP? The mess which was part of the letter? 3 of your alternatives have tons of sugar in them. Gogurt is notoriously high in sugar (sugar high), rice krispy treats are made with marshmallow fluff, and ice cream is also high in sugar. So, it immediately invalidates some of the points you make about the sugar in cupcakes.
     
  37. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Bottom line is that it's your classroom. You just have to figure out what is more important. Having a healthy snack, having a non-messy snack, etc. I think you need to be more specific in the letter. If you just say "an alternative" then that could end up being more messy thank a cupcake. You never know what people will think up! If you said something like, "a small, individually wrapped item for each student" then you will most likely get something not too messy.
     
  38. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    It's more about the mess in my opinion. I didn't mean for my letter to sound passive-aggressive. Those who know me know that I am definitely not like that. If that's the tone that my letter sends, I will have to change it.
     
  39. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jun 9, 2014

    I know you didn't intend that. You've never seemed the type.

    I'd just be careful with your examples, because they are all over the place.

    You might want to just come out and say that cupcakes and or cake which needs to be cut and handed out makes a terrible mess and is usually too much for most students to eat. Mini cup cakes, cookies, or other treats that make less mess would be appreciated. You might also consider healthy alternatives for birthday treats!

    (problem her is healthy alternatives are either trinkets or non-fun treats)
     

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