Tuesday, December 11, 2012

School Party Planning

I have volunteered to help with class parties since my oldest son started Kindergarten in 2007.  This year was no different....well, I volunteered to be head room mom...that's different!  My kids have been to three of four elementary schools in the same district because I have moved twice.  This is our second full school year at this school.  Last year, I didn't get to actually go to the parties because I was working....and that meant that when I signed up as head room mom for THREE classrooms....I had no idea they were all AT THE SAME TIME!  The other two schools the kids went had their parties spread out throughout the day so that parents of more than one child had the opportunity to attend all of them.  I learned this three weeks before the fall party that took place on Halloween day this past October.  I am thankful for the amazing room parents that covered my tail in the two classrooms I was not able to be in.  Because my oldest is a 5th grader...and this is his last year to have parties...I decided that I would attend all of his parties and made the promise to the other two boys that they would get the same treatment (now, let's hope that if I am working those years...I have a great boss and can make that promise true!).

Now that the winter party is fast approaching and I have been finalizing the plans for the parties.  I have run into a power problem with my 3rd grade classroom and have been left with no other choice to cut ties and simply send in my fair share and step in during snack time to say hello to my boy.  My 2nd and 5th grade classes however, are coming along nicely.  My 2nd graders are easy to please and the mommies are more than eager to bring in stuff and provide supplies, it's fantastic!  We all did agree to come with out of the box games for them and at the end of the blog you can see what games and activities we decided to have for them.

My 5th grade class is rather challenging.  We have two gluten allergies, one severe peanut allergy, 19 boys and 26 kids total!!  17 of the boys are athletes and VERY rowdy!  The gluten allergies make it impossible to do sweets such as cupcakes and sugar cookies.  I am a "what we do for one, we do for all" so I have a real problem with forcing the kids who can't eat cupcakes have to watch their classmates eat them while they have a different snack.  I think it sets the wrong tone and attitude towards the things that make us different.  So, with that in mind, I decided that all the kids will eat whatever will be safe for everyone.  My other room parents have been very accepting of this challenge and we have come up with a very creative and fun snack for them.

Here is a break down of what we have decided to do with our kiddos and why!  Now, mind you...I have nothing for my middle son...because frankly we have been taken over by dictator who is not letting anyone else participate and is causing major problems for my other moms (trust me, I will have a handle on it for Valentine's Day!)

2nd Grade:  Musical Chairs with Christmas Music (we expect to take up about half of our one hour block) Gift Exchange (we have asked each student to bring in a single gift costing no more than $10.  All of the boys gifts will be put into a pile and all of the girl gifts will be put into a pile.  The kids will get to pick a gift that is not the one they brought in.  We expect this to take up about 10 minutes).  Ornament Craft (this is probably the one thing that is "traditional" of school winter parties...but I am sucker for these things and so are my helpers! This will probably take 15-20 minutes...one of my moms is scouting supply costs to determine what project would be best for these guys!  I will of course post pics of what she decides on!).  We will also have an activity book for them to do at their desk while they eat their snacks.  We have no allergies in this room and we will have cupcakes (decorated by a SAH that has more time than I do), fruit kabobs and hot coca! 

5th Grade:  SnowBall Fight!!  We discussed the right activity for these kids over the course of a couple of weeks.  One of my parents was my youngest son's teacher last year and her 5th grader plays sports with mine.  She pulled from her experience as a teacher and the many games that have crossed her classroom and remembered this one.  The kids are split into two teams, are allowed to build a "base" and are handed bags of cotton balls.  The cotton balls are in fact the snowballs and the idea is to get more balls in the "base" of the other team then they get in yours.  We are pretty stoked to see how this goes because at our Fall party, candy corn toss and tic tac toe just didn't cut it for their level of energy!
Igloo Building Race!  This is similar to that cup stacking thing that was a big deal about 10 years ago.  I have done this at all age levels in parties past and it has always been a big hit.  They get one minute to build a pyramid of Styrofoam cups as tall as they can without it falling over. Kid with the tallest tower, wins.
Jingle Bell Door Hanger.  My son is completely over the ornament craft, so I decided to go with something that was quick, easy but fun for mom and dad at home.  We are taking pipe cleans, making a circle hook and attaching bells to dangling pipe cleaner pieces.  I will, of course, post pics of these when they are done.
Snacks!!!  Here is where the creativity gets really awesome!  We are doing a nacho bar!  All the fixings are going to be available and on of my GF moms is going to find us GF chips for our GF kids.  We are also making them Fruity Pepple treats (Fruity Pebbles are GF!!!!).  This will be their sweet snack and I am very excited about it!  They are just like rice crispie treats...only with Pebbles instead!

My Advice
When planning a class party, my first suggestion is to allow all the helper parents to get their ideas out before you even come close to making decisions concerning the party.  It means a lot to those moms to have their ideas taken seriously and even used.  I can attest to this with my current 3rd grade class.  The mom who offered to help me out because I have three classrooms went to the point for the winter party that she sent out an email to everyone telling them what we were doing.  Before I had a chance to fix it, our teacher (who was clueless to the problem) sent it out to my parents.  Not wanting the un-involved parents to know there was a problem....I have chosen to leave it alone for this round.  About 75% of the activities and snack ideas belong to one of my helpers...after all, that is what they are there for.  Head Room Mom is in charge in rounding up the supplies, making sure everyone that wants to help out is helping out, and ensuring that everything goes as planned inside the classroom.  It's a management position at is core and need to be treated as such.  No one person can do it all....even if they want to.  The helper parents didn't sign up for your job for several reasons and sometimes it is because you signed up first...so you must keep that in mind as you approach your parents.  Mass emails are the easiest way to chat with everyone at once...if everyone remembers to click "Reply All" and they actually check their email!  I have one mom who needs me to text her when emails are being sent back and forth, another part of the job.  Don't take the job too seriously that give yourself mini heart attacks in the planning process.  Less is always more!  I see so many moms who are over the top, rearranging classrooms and decorating and all that mess....but what the kids remember most...what they got to do, what they got to eat, and what they get to keep!  Focus on being creative, do something that have never done, or haven't done in a couple years...make treat bags (like birthday party) or do a gift exchange.  Get the kids out of their desk, play with them.....that's what important!

Watch for picture updates on the crafts and the results on how these activities turn out in the end!

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