Snacks on Snacks on Snacks: We Don’t “Do Snack Time”

I have 20 students in my morning class but I don’t have 20 chairs.
We do not have a snack table.
We do not eat snack during “snack time”.
We do not eat snack all together.

All my kindergarten students enter into our classroom thinking that though.

My students DO NOT eat snack all at the same time. Since I teach in a half day program (follow the #wtdk hashtag on Twitter for fun facts and anecdotes of me and teachers in the public school system in Alberta)…let’s be realistic here.

When they arrive the first day at school, I make sure to tell them that when they are feeling hungry they can ask to go get their snack. The only reason they need to ASK to get their snack is so they acquire the language, since we are learning in a French Immersion environment. This way, I don’t need to create another unnecessary transition in the classroom and no play and learning time is interrupted.

It turns out you do not need a chair or a desk for every student in your room. If 12 out of my 20 students all want to eat snack at the same time in the 12 chairs I have in my classroom that happen to be “free” and the 13th student comes along, they WILL find a spot. They will share a chair with a student. They will move the playdough over and eat next to the playdough. They will eat at the light table. Some might even have a picnic on the floor. It’s all good in my classroom. All of my students are also responsible to clean up their spot after. They learn how to use the hand broom with the dust pan. They learn how to ring a cloth out in the sink. They learn to pick up those AWFUL PLASTIC JUICE BOX STRAWS that never seem to make it to the garbage.

Yes, this free for all snack time is an adjustment for parents as well. I will receive emails or notes in the agenda saying their child didn’t eat snack that day at all and could I remind them, or they didn’t finish all their snack they were given and to keep a watchful eye on them. My response is that if a child is hungry, they will ask to eat. They won’t forget. And if they do end up forgetting, you better believe the next day they remember to manage their time and schedule throughout the day a little better than the day before.

“Well that’s all fine for you in KINDERGARTEN,” my coworkers say to me. “But in grade blah we all need a spot to sit.” Agreed, I will say, not having taught another grade before. But I like to think that if I taught another grade, I would give them the freedom to eat whenever the like and wherever they like. I like to think that a classroom of another grade still has a variety of seating options for students: desks, tables and chairs, standing at the counter, or maybe even a bean bag chair.

Snack in my classroom is a choice. It is one of many choices that I give. We are just as happy as a class without having a dedicated snack time or even a dedicated snack table. We are free range and loving it. I do have one hard rule though: no eating on any carpeted surfaces. Cleaning carpets isn’t exactly my wheelhouse. I DON’T do carpets.


Classroom Configuration: Muscles For Days

After I felt my room was presentable enough to take pictures, here I am finally getting around to showing you my classroom set up for this school year. It was nice not to have to move rooms (since I have for the last three years) and it took WAY less time to set up than normally.

Here is what I like:
– neutral tones so the students’ art work will be the focus (woooooooo Reggio inspired!)
– not too many hidden corners so I can keep an eye on what’s going on (I’m about as tall as a kindergarten student, so I had barely any height advantage here people.)
– a clean carpet to start off the year (thanks to my fabulous coworker for bringing her Bissel in and doing it for me!)
– as many non plastic containers as possible (again, fist pump to Reggio inspired.)
– areas that can be easily changed for different purposes (table can be for art one day, flipped on its side for block exploration the next day, and turned back up again for play dough the next day)
– a small teacher dedicated space (if you can’t fit it in one small space, just throw it out. You won’t miss it. I promise.)
– lamps lamps lamps everywhere (fluorescent lights aren’t good for anyone.)
– area rugs to define spaces within the room.