For our Valentine’s party, one of the other teachers on my team begged us. “Please,” she said, “ALL THEY WANT is to open their Valentines and look through them. Can we keep this one simple?”
As someone who doesn’t have a room mom (like a lot of teachers- but somewhat unusual for my school) and generally plans a craft, snack, and game for each party myself, I agreed immediately.
Here’s what we did!
For years, my team has done this. Send home a letter with student names, and a white bag. Ask each child to decorate their bag as much or as little as they want, but make sure their name is on it.
As kids bring them in, hang the bags on the tray beneath the board. (Next year, I’ll do this in some kind of order, but this year we just randomly put them up with masking tape.)
After they’ve had about a week and a half to bring bags back, let kids start bringing in Valentines. The only rule is that they bring one for everyone. We also gave them the option of only filling out the “from” side to make them quicker to pass out : )
During the morning work time or when kids have finished work, they pass out their Valentines for the week or so until the party.
Flash forward to the Valentine’s Party- when the valentines are already passed out. I sent one group at a time to go get their bag, and one group at a time to get snacks (a couple of kinds of fruit sent in by parents- because they’d have plenty of sweets!).
Once everyone had both, we put on Charlie Brown’s Valentine’s Day on the 3M board and let them eat and open their Valentine’s bags.
We ended the party by playing a little GoNoodle (our first time, and the kids LOVED it!) and then playing the old school hand-clap game “Down By The Banks,” which a lot of my kids had never played. They did a great job, even when they got “out”- and they roared with laughter when they got ME out of the game!
This party was less work, less chaos… and my kids had a lot of fun anyway. I think they really enjoyed just hanging out together. There isn’t a lot of downtime or “just because” fun in 4th grade- especially when we’re departmentalized- and it was a good reminder to me to let that unstructured time happen once in awhile. I really do think it helps with classroom community- and lets you get more learning in later!
What about you- hyper-organized party planner, or keep-it-simple planner?