Toward the end of December, as the holiday break approaches, visions of sugarplums crowd out the view of the blackboard in the grade school classroom. This is probably why teachers plan a classroom party for their students, as a fun way to pass one of the remaining days in the calendar year. Unless your child attends a religious school, the party is usually called a winter party, and activities are either entirely secular or a blend of various holiday traditions.
As a classroom parent, you should consult with your teacher to decide which direction to take your winter classroom party, and then choose from the fun games and activities below.
Doughnut Eating Contest
If the kids love bobbing for apples at your classroom Halloween party, they will like this game even better! You will need one doughnut with a hole in the center for each child, a two-foot length of yarn for each doughnut, and a long stick such as a dowel rod or yard stick. Prior to the party, tie a length of yarn through each doughnut hole. At the party, hang approximately 4 doughnuts from your stick, or as many as will fit while leaving space for children to stand side-by-side underneath. Have two adults hold each end of the stick and call up as many children as the number of doughnuts hanging off of it. Stand the children beneath the doughnuts and instruct them to hold their hands behind their backs.
On your mark, the children will begin to eat the doughnuts without using hands. The first person to finish their doughnut without it falling off the string wins.
Unwrap the Gift
As the gift is passed around the circle, the fun grows with the anticipation. Purchase a small gift for the winner of this game, such as a candy cane, small action figure, box of crayons, or whatever is appropriate for the age of the children in your classroom and fits your budget.
Next, you'll wrap this gift in many layers of gift wrap, at least as many layers as the number of children in your class, but even more would be better. Have the children sit in a large circle and hand the gift to the first child with instructions to unwrap the first layer of paper. When finished, the child will pass the gift to the next person in the circle who will do the same thing. The gift continues to be passed around until the final layer of paper is unwrapped and there's a winner.
Here's an appropriately frosty-named game for a winter party. It will have the kids up on their feet, burning off some of that pent-up energy. Put together a playlist of fun songs, either holiday songs, fun children's songs, or pop tunes they all love. Begin to play the music and have the children start to dance. Then, as you've instructed before the game begins, you will turn off the music as you call out a shape. The children need to freeze in the shape you've called out. If they move, they need to sit down and help you judge the subsequent rounds of dancing until there is a final winner.
Some appropriate winter shapes to call out are:
- Ice Skater
- Cup of Cocoa
- Candy Cane
- Santa Claus
Pin the Nose on the Snowman
Cut out three large, white circles from poster board and tape them to a wall at child height, in the design of a snowman. Draw eyes, a mouth, and buttons on the snowman. Next, cut out a nose for your snowman in the shape of a carrot from orange paper, one for each child. Pass around the carrot noses before the game begins and tell the children to write their name on the carrot. In turn, each child will approach the snowman. First, put a small piece of double-sided tape on the back of their carrot, then blindfold the children using a soft scarf. If they're old enough to handle it, spin them around several times and tell them to walk to the snowman to pin on their nose. The winner is the child whose nose is closest to the center of the snowman's face.
Guess the Drawing
Set up two easels with paper in front of the classroom and divide the children into two teams. Choose a child from each team to be the first one to draw. Whisper to the first two artists what they'll need to draw. On your signal, they should begin to draw it as their teams call out guesses. The first team to make the correct guess gets a point, and the play continues until each child has had a chance to draw. Choose items from the Freeze Dance list above as possible drawing subjects for the game.
New Year's Resolution/Time Capsule
Talk to the children about the custom of making New Year's resolutions. Give each child a nice piece of stationery or paper. Have the children think about and write down their resolutions for the New Year. Next, tie each paper with a piece of ribbon like a scroll for them to take home and share with their parents. Alternatively, have them create a time capsule for their resolution paper. Ask each child to bring in a tube from a paper towel roll. Give them time to decorate the tube and write the upcoming year on the tube. Put the resolution pages into the tube. Cover the ends of each tube with small squares of tissue paper that you attach using a small rubber band.
Turn this party into a cozy pajama party if the teacher allows it. Have the children come to school in their pajamas, bringing along their slippers for changing once they arrive in the classroom. Take advantage of this cozy setup to read classic children's bedtime stories to the group.
Fun Snack Ideas
Hot Chocolate - A winter party just begs for hot chocolate to be served. Have plenty of whipped cream and marshmallows for the children to add as desired. Finish it off with a fun candy cane.
Holiday Cookies - Serve everyone's favorite holiday cookies to go with the hot chocolate. Cut out snowman shapes for all, or holiday shapes if religious holidays are included in this party.
Make a Snowman Cake - It's easy to make a snowman cake. Place two or three round cake layers on a cake board. Frost with vanilla frosting for the body and chocolate for the hat. Decorate using fruit leather, licorice and other small candies for the eyes, mouth, scarf and the buttons. Use a small ice cream cone for the nose.
Ice Cream Sundaes - Flip their expectations upside down by serving a typical summer dessert instead. Arrange an ice cream sundae buffet with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and other toppings. Allow the children to make their own sundaes - with your supervision, of course!