October 1st, 2010Musings
Alternatives to celebrating Halloween
Now that fall is here, many people’s minds often turn to thoughts of the holidays. For room moms, this time of year also brings with it the interesting dilemma of how and what to celebrate.
Halloween is the first of the “holiday challenges.” For many, this is the time of year set aside for otherwise kind and caring people to scare the daylights out of small children. In exchange for his participation, the unsuspecting child is given a supply of sugary treats, which will make him so hyper that, if nightmares do not keep him awake all night, the sugar high will. (I’ll even admit, my son missed the day of school after Halloween one year on account of having eaten so much candy he’d made himself sick. He – and I – have vowed never again, on that front!)
Others will have concerns about the conflict between the “message” of ghosts, goblins, and witches, and the religious principals that they are trying to instill in their children.
Some families will expect what they will call “a good, old fashioned Halloween.” The precise definition of which (of course) will vary from family to family.
What is a room mom to do? The trick is to provide a treat that is acceptable to all. A celebration is certainly acceptable. Costumes are always fun. A special (nutritious) snack is always welcome.
Consider having a “Storybook Day.” Children can be encouraged to come dressed as their favorite storybook character, books can be brought in to share with the group, and parents and others might be persuaded to sign up and come in at various times during the day to read to the children in a “story marathon.” Special prizes could be given for costumes, bringing books, being the best listener, etc., with enough categories to ensure that everyone will win a prize.
Fall-themed treats for the day might include sliced apples, muffins, or even pumpkin bread. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try one of the many Harry Potter-themed recipes for pumpkin juice or butterbeer that can be found online.
Art projects could revolve around children sharing their favorite stories in the medium of their own choosing, and then could be displayed in the classroom for all to enjoy.
Other themes might be a harvest festival, fall games and sports, or “animals preparing for winter,” with children coming as, or acting out, their favorite animal – this could be especially fun for the younger set.
Each of these scenarios involve literacy, language skills, art, science, parent involvement and nutritious food, as well as the fun of a special day when children can pretend to be someone other than themselves. The possibilities are endless. A little thought can provide an October holiday, one that will be fun for all, with no “Boo!” or boo-hoos.
–Special thanks to Cool Room Mom contributor Mary Ellen Lamb for this article, which originally appeared in the Fall 2005 edition of NCAEYC’s Milestones magazine. The article has been modified (with the permission of the author) by Cool Room Mom for this audience.Tags: halloween, Parties, preschool
June 19th, 2010Musings
I had an odd dream last night. I was helping my son’s 3rd grade teacher prep for the end of year party, when she reminded me that I needed to go get the entertainment. It turns out she’d booked Jon Bon Jovi to play the class’ party, and she’d sent him to my house, since the school obviously has no backstage facilities (we live right behind the school so this does make some sense). I got home to find Jon asleep in my family room. Weird.
I’m not sure how JBJ ended up in my dream. Sure, I did see him in concert twice during my 9th grade year (the “New Jersey” tour, if you must know), and I enjoyed his work on The West Wing as well, but still – why did my brain choose him of all people to have play the end of 3rd grade party?
Thank God we’re not really expected to book true talent school for parties, eh?Tags: end of year, Parties
June 9th, 2010Musings
We’ve only got two more days left in the school year here, and excitement is mounting – and not just among the kids! I’ve been working with my son’s teacher to put together a fun, low-key day for Friday, in hopes of keeping everyone happy and sane. School is only in session for 4 hrs that day, which does help!
My son’s class will be watching a movie, doing class awards, some reflecting (his teacher has a “looking back”-type survey for them to fill out: My favorite subject this year was… My best friends this year were…), and, of course, there will be snacks.
When I dropped by the room late last week, the teacher gave the kids an overview of the last day, including sharing with them that they’d be seeing a movie. Needless to say, it was interesting to hear what some kids suggested for the day’s film. I’ll start by saying, what they will be watching is some portion of Planet Earth. This thrills my son, as he’s an animal lover and nature freak, but some kids weren’t so thrilled. What did they want to see? Coraline (a movie that scares even me, it looks so creepy), Avatar, and Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland. While I have nothing against any of these (well, except, maybe Coraline), it surprised me how many of them went for slightly creepy &/or violent films. It’s made me wonder if I’m more strict about what I allow my son to watch? (Full disclosure: he’s got Transformers and Transformers 2 memorized.) Maybe I’m not so much strict as just not convinced my son needs to know all about Tim Burton yet? Frankly, I thought they’d all ask for one of the Harry Potter movies – I know it’s what I’d pick if I was given a choice.
While they watch the movie, the kids can look forward to homemade goodies from our fabulous parents – we’ve got cupcakes, cookies, Rice Krispy teats, popcorn, juice, and bottled water coming in. I tried to steer people toward sending in more healthy snacks, but hey, I’m making cupcakes, so I don’t have much room to talk, do I?
If I had all the time in the world, I’d make Star Wars cookies using my new cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma, but instead I think those will have to wait until next year. I guess this gives me all summer to perfect my icing piping skills! (They’ll also be a great “kick off summer” surprise for my son. I can’t wait to get baking!)Tags: end of year, movies, Parties, planning, snacks
June 2nd, 2010Musings
As David Byrne famously sang, You may ask yourself, How did I get here?
This blog is a long time coming. I grew up in the middle of the country, have now lived on both coasts, and have been a room mom for seven consecutive years. I’ve always rambled on to my husband, family, and friends about what I’m up to, all the while feeling a bit frustrated that I had no time to write (I’m a writer & editor by training). Until recently, it had never occurred to me to put all of these things together. Now, though, it seems so obvious – why didn’t I think to do this years ago?!?
So, in brief, here’s who I am:
- Married mom of two: one older-elementary-aged boy and a very young daughter
- Full-time writer and editor (though I do more editing than writing these days)
- Room mom with seven years (and counting) experience. I figured it up one one day – the year (I presume) my son ages out of needing a room mom will be the very year my daughter starts preschool and comes into the room mom-years. When all is said and done, I can expect to have been a room mom for 18 years in a row! It makes me a little tired just thinking about it all
- Multi-year room mom experience in both private and public school settings.
In short, I feel a bit like everymom, yet also quite different. In my years of room momming, I’ve encountered a lively cast of characters – some of the nicest, best people I’ve ever met, and some that make you want to stab yourself with a fork rather than work with them. I refuse to stab myself, so instead, I’ll blog about them – annoying people of the world, you’re on notice!
I also don’t like to think of the traditional, boring room mom mold. I’m sure it works for some, but it doesn’t work for me. Who says having a kid means you have to lose your edge? Why play Barney for your preschooler when you could play Barenaked Ladies’ “Snacktime” album instead? Just the same, I’m always on the lookout for cool activities, party ideas, and projects to make classroom events fun – you’ll find no conversation hearts bingo here!Tags: Musings, Parties, Projects, volunteering
June 1st, 2010Musings
Where has the year gone? As I write this, many friends’ children in other parts of the country are out of school, or are getting out this week. We’ve got 8 more days to go here, but who’s counting?
The year has gone quickly for me, and no doubt some of this has come as a result of my “room momming.” Now I’ve got one more party to plan, one more field trip to help pull together, a school picnic/carnival to attend, and then summer can begin. (Oh, for the days when school never went past Memorial Day…)
While I look forward to being free from my weekly room mom duties and enjoying some downtime, I’ll also be using the time to bring my thoughts together, do some organizing, keep blogging and tweeting, and get myself ready for next year.Tags: end of year, field trips, Parties, planning