Holiday Celebration Ideas for the Classroom

My son's elementary school allows small parties at the holidays as long as they do not address any specific religious beliefs. Do you have any suggestions for games and activities that we can use for a classroom party without offending any one group?

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Taking on the responsibility of organizing a class party is not a small task. I commend you for getting involved. I'm sure the teacher is appreciative of your efforts.

Since it appears that the holidays themselves need to stay out of the classroom, I think it would be easier for you to plan games that could be played at any time of year or at a party for children. You may even want to set the games up as stations if you have enough parent help to make it feasible. Choose four or five fun games, such as "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," the clothespin game (where they have to drop a clothespin into a jar while in a kneeling position on a chair), a bean bag toss, ring toss, or even a fishing game. Whole group activities could include "Simon Says," "Red Light, Green Light," musical chairs, or "Mother May I?"

There are numerous books on children's games and party activities. You can probably find one at your local library or at a bookstore. This will be a good reference guide for you in planning this party, as well as parties you may host in the future. You can also find some great ideas on the message boards at Parent Soup.

Craft activities are fun for children, too. Since you need to stay away from holiday themes, plan open-ended projects. For example, watercolor paints can be one station. The kids can paint a picture of their choosing. The children can also make bookmarks (markers, stickers, glitter pens, or coloring pencils could be used), work with clay, create collages with paper scraps or any other materials, or anything else you can think of. There are endless ideas here.

Food should be kept simple. When asking people to donate certain food items, be specific about what is needed. Try to stick with "kid favorites" rather than seasonal foods (chocolate chip cookies rather than iced sugar cookies, for example). You may want to purchase plates, napkins and cups yourself to avoid the holiday party goods.

Once you have sketched out some plans for the party, sit down with your child's teacher to discuss the event. Get feedback from her as to the interest level of the students and whether the activities you have selected will be appropriate and engaging for the children. You may want to draft a letter to parents regarding the party and the theme (or lack of theme) so that they are clear about what is going to go on that day. This notice could also include requests for volunteers and donations.

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