Refreshment Ideas for My Very First Classroom Open House?
My darling CHers,
I am about to meet my very first fourth graders...and their parents. I am super excited; however, I'm also incredibly nervous. I'm making activity books of fun things to do with the rest of the summer/getting to know you activities/an introduction to our classroom, I'm in the middle of preparing said classroom, and I'm wondering: should I have refreshments for my open house day? Should I have separate kid friendly ones (that is, a little more cutesy) or what? Should I worry about vegan options? (Considering the demographics of our school, I don't think I'll have to, but still.)
Most importantly: any ideas? Preferably budget friendly, because I'm not in the world's most highly paid profession. (However, feel free to make the kind of suggestions I can just fantasize about, even if tongue in cheek. I read cookbooks the way some girls read fashion magazines. Looking at the CH boards, I don't think I'm alone in this.) I can bring my dorm fridge, if needed.
I'm not a parent or a teacher. I would really think about the ease of eating and the sound factors. Kids that age can get very carried away with making funny sounds and trying to gross each other out. I'd also consider the potential cleanup issues. It could be really embarrassing for a child to have all eyes upon him/her if they spill something.
So quiet, easy to handle/clean up after foods - grapes, goldfish crackers, m&m's, popcorn, water in bottles.
Your desire to extend hospitality is lovely. Just take care in your choices so an accident doesn't take attention away from the primary purpose.
I'd vote for no food. Teachers who've done that, in my experience, seem to come off as trying too hard to please. Either way, I'd avoid nuts. Students can be warned but cross contamination can be dangerous and you don't want to come off as someone who doesn't care about their safety.
I agree w/ asking the other teachers if having refreshments is normal. But, if it is, what about something simple like Rice Krispy Treats? I don't know anybody that doesn't like those and they're super easy and cheap to make. As for worrying about food allergies, etc.... I wouldn't. I think you're over-thinking this a little bit. Your job at an open house is to introduce yourself to your students' parents, talk about what you're going to do that year, and to make the parents think you are competent at your job... not supply them with dinner.
As the parent of a rising 5th grader, I can honestly say that I wouldn't expect to see refreshments at the open house but I would be very pleased to see something offered. Speaking as a parent and not a Hound, I would prefer to see something simple, even just cookies and lemonade. I'd rather think that you spent your time working on your classroom planning as opposed to menu planning.
Our school has what I consider to be a fairly enlightened approach to food allergies amd dietary restrictions. It is assumed that every student will be responsible for his/her own allergies. Teachers have a list of children with potentially dangerous allergies and are instructed on how to handle a reaction, but it is up to the individual with the allergies to watch what they eat. We have a few peanut and wheat allergies (not the same as gluten intolerance) and many vegetarians. The norm by us is to have vegetarian options available and label other potential allergens.
But yeah, cookies and lemonade will be every bit as appreciated as a more elaborate spread.
I would suggest mini cupcake or cookies, a big bowl of grapes, cubed up cheese (marble cheddar is usually a hit with kids) and some crackers. The only thing I would specifically offer for parents is coffee and have some juice for the kids.
Sounds like you are setting a great mood for the upcoming year!
Why not ask your fellow teachers what they've done in the past? I don't recall ever seeing refreshments on any orientation night we attended, but this varies by school and by district.
I agree with the phobia about peanut butter -- it's just not worth the risk.
Moms will love you for not jacking their kids up with sugar, especially if the open house is in the evening, as every initiation/open house I've ever attended has been.
If I were a parent or fourth grade student walking into the classroom where you'll be, here's what I'd like to see:
Peanut butter and saltine crackers
Peanut butter balls (made with confectioner's sugar and peanut butter and sometimes butter)
Sorry. Only two suggestions so far and, ironically, both have peanut butter in them.
Concerning an adult food offering and a children's food offering, I would simply have one area and one set of foods for both groups to eat from. In other words, no separate, special food for adults. Everyone eats the same.
Concerning vegan, I wouldn't worry about that either. If someone doesn't want it, they'll skip it. You're simply offering free food. Snacks at that. No one is expecting you to feed them supper.
The fact that you'll have any food to offer will probably wow most of them anyways, so would just relax and have fun.
I just thought of one more idea:
Sandwich sushi: Cut the crusts off of white bread, flatten the slices with a rolling pin, make whatever sandwiches you'd like [peanut butter and jelly (yeah, I know, more peanut butter), cream cheese and fruit or berries, Spam, etc.] only using one slice of bread per sandwich, roll the flattened slice of bread into a long sushi-type roll, and slice into individual sushi-type rolls.
I would reconsider peanut butter. With so many children with severe peanut allergies, many schools and school districts have banned peanut butter and peanut products from the schools.
I'd like to suggest cupcakes, regular-sized or mini and because gluten allergies are becoming more prevailant, have some gluten-free cupcakes. There are gluten-free cake mixes and more bakeries have begun baking gluten-free items.
I'd also like to suggest a veggie tray with at least two dips, one non-dairy because of lactose intolerance and to have an option for vegans.
If you want to have something a little more hardy, deviled eggs and tuna-salad stuffed cherry tomatoes.
For a beverage, what do you think about a non-alcoholic sangria made with sparkling grape juice and sparkling apple juice with diced apples, oranges, peaches, etc.
Hope this sparks some ideas. If you make the veggie tray and bake the cupcakes yourself, I believe that these suggestions would fit into your budget. Your class is fortunate to have such a considerate and energetic teacher. Thank you for choosing this career.