Goodie Bag Ideas for the Classroom September 23 2010

My youngest child started Kindergarten this year.

As both a mom and a teacher, I was nervous for him. Would he make friends? Would he find his bus at the end of his school day? As a person who marches to his own drummer and likes to be funny, would he behave as the teacher required (and keep his pants up on the playground)?

Both Kindergarten classes held an Orientation Day on the first day of school. Kids and parents gathered to meet the teacher (and each other), fill out forms, and face the realities of going to school - harder for the parents than for the kids, I think.

One of the highlights of Orientation Day was the Goodie Bag that each child received, which held a yellow star, a red heart, a small eraser, a jewel, a piece of gum and a package of smarties. To accompany it, the teacher had written:

Dear Kindergartner,

You are a star in my class. (Star)
It's OK to make mistakes...that's how we learn. (Eraser)
You are important and valuable. (Jewel)
You are going to learn so much this year. (Smarties)
In our class, we always stick together. (Gum)
Our class is a safe and caring place. (Heart)

I am so happy to have you in class!

Love, Mrs. A

When Kids Arrive

My son absolutely loved his Goodie Bag, and plays with the contents (except for the gum, that was chewed the first day) even though we're now two weeks into the school year. I loved it too, and it got me thinking about how much children of all ages might appreciate a Goodie Bag once in awhile.

The contents of classroom Goodie Bags can vary greatly depending on the kids and parents receiving them. Additional ideas for possible contents include:

  • Starburst - Everyone in our class is a Star!
  • Fancy Toothpick - Don't forget to "pick" out the good in everyone, Remember to "pick" the right choice
  • Bandage - When feelings are hurt, you can always offer an apology
  • A Hershey's Hug - Everyone needs a "hug" sometimes

Basically, what you put into Goodie Bags can vary based on your own special creativity and imagination!

To Celebrate a Special Day or Person

A Goodie Bag doesn't have to only be for the beginning of the school year. There are many ways to incorporate Goodie Bags for special occasions throughout the year that help build positive relationships with kids and parents involved in your classroom. A few ideas of celebrating additional special days or people include:

  • Acknowledgment of each child's birthday - this can include a special pencil, birthday crown to put together and wear during the day, a sticker or temporary tattoo, a fruit leather (as opposed to candy)
  • Help celebrate Hundreds Day - Kids make a Goodie Bag of "Hundreds Day Heavenly Hash" by picking 10 pieces from each bowl you provide, like bowls of Cheerios or other cereal, animal crackers, mini-marshmallows, raisins or dried cranberries, chocolate chips, peanuts, sunflower seeds, popcorn, and pretzels, to name a few.
  • Chaperones on the day of a Field Trip - Include a copy of expectations for chaperones and their groups, an itinerary for the day, nametags for the kids in their group, a brief thank you note, and a couple of pieces of chocolate
  • Volunteer Appreciation - the Goodie Bag can actually be a flower pot with a packet of seeds as a thank-you for their assistance in "helping kids grow." Other themes can involve coffee, tea, chocolate or going green.
  • Celebrate a Holiday - create special Christmas or Valentine's Day Goodie Bags for each child in your classroom

When Kids Leave

When the other parents and I left our kindergarteners for their first day of school, Mrs. A handed us out own special Goodie Bags. There were three items and a note to explain each one:

  • a tissue, to wipe away the tears
  • a cotton ball, to remind us that our kids' spirits are still young and malleable
  • a packaged teabag, with encouragement to put our feet up and have a nourishing cup

Mrs. A stood by the door to hand us our bags, instructing the kids to say good-bye and blow us kisses from where they were sitting.

I am convinced that my son's Kindergarten teacher is a GENIUS.

Goodie Bags don't have to only be for parents as they leave for that first day. As children leave your classroom at the end of the year, consider putting together a special Goodie Bag for each one to take with them. Here are some suggestions for possible contents:

  • a small (snack-size) Ziploc bag of homemade playdough and a recipe card.
  • a small ruler to remind kids that there are rules to follow.
  • a pencil and eraser to write a letter to me.
  • an inexpensive book and a bookmark.
  • a piece of candy, to remind kids that they're sweet. Another option is Hershey's Hugs and Kisses.
  • a small container of bubbles to encourage kids to get outside and play!

Goodie Bags in the classroom provide a special way to build relationships with kids and parents without straining your budget!