Tag Archives: Snack Time

How to Pack a Lunch with a Punch!

by Diane Burdick

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Here’s a great article if you’re a parent (use these tips!) or if you’re a teacher (print these tips for your parents on what to pack for snack and lunch). It’s all about eatin’ healthy…because, in the classroom, children really are what they eat. Healthy food = healthy brains that are ready to learn.

Packing a Lunch or Snack

Packing your child’s lunch with good-for-them options doesn’t necessarily mean that your child will come up with a sack full of food at the end of the day, or that you’ll spend tons of time prepping, either. What you need is a balance: pre-packaged items that are minimally processed. Meaning? Healthy, filling, kid-friendly, but not draining on the crazy morning routine.

Play With Your Food: Cheese Sticks

Whether you cut sticks yourself from a large store-bought brick or purchase pre-packed string cheese, cheese sticks pack a powerful punch of calories and nutrition. For example, string cheese typically comes in a 1 oz service size, which has only 70 to 80 calories but a whopping 7 to 8 grams of protein. Plus, they’re fun to eat. I mean, who doesn’t love creating all those strings?!

Yummy Yogurt

Kid-oriented freezable yogurt, such as Yoplait “Go-Gurt,” Danimals “Coolisions,” and organic varieties allow you to freeze the yogurt overnight. As the yogurt package sits in your child’s lunch bag, it thaws out, but is still cool enough to each and taste great. And, it’s great frozen, too– like a healthy popsicle! And, no spoon required. Loaded with calcium, about 10% of the suggested daily amount, kid-friendly yogurt is a sure bet.

Fun with Fruit

If you’re worried about fresh fruit going bad in the house, look for prepackaged fruit instead. For example, mandarin orange fruit cups in their own juice (not artificially sweetened) are around 40 calories, but they offer 100% of the daily value of vitamin C. Flavorful, convenient and oh, so sumptuous!

Some other fruity options:

  • A small 1-oz package of dried cranberries is less than 100 calories, but offers 4% of your daily recommended fiber.
  • A 1.5 oz pack of raisins offer about 10% of the suggested daily amount of fiber, and only 130 calories.
  • And prunes (which are just dried plums) are even better for you than a fresh apple, because they offer almost 2 grams of fiber in just a 1 ounce serving size, that’s twice the fiber of a fresh apple! Look for prunes loose in a package, or in small cellophane wrappers which lock in the juiciness and freshness.

Granola Bars

Traditional chewy granola bars, such as the Quaker brand with 25% less sugar, run at only 100 calories (for the peanut butter chocolate chip variety) and offer 10% of the recommended daily fiber, 2 grams of protein, 10% of calcium, and 2% of iron. But at 20% of your daily recommended fiber per serving, the “Fiber One” bars in the chocolate peanut butter flavor are only 90 calories, and, in my opinion, are even tastier than the original.


It’s not just for breakfast anymore. You can satisfy your child’s sweet and salty cravings with a handful of cereal from the pantry instead of greasy and overly salty chips or crackers.

For example, a dry (non-milk) one-cup serving of Quaker Oatmeal Squares provides 90% of the suggested iron and 100% of folic acid. Traditional Cheerios clock in at only 100 calories a serving, with 11% of your recommended dietary fiber. The slightly sweeter Multigrain Cheerios offer 100% of the suggested values for many nutrients such as iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B, folic acid, B12 and zinc.

The takeaway: healthy lunches are a real possibility in your home and classroom. It just takes a few minutes and a few ideas.

And, if you’re teaching nutrition to your class this year, The School Box has a super fun game to try: Food Pyramid Bingo. Because, let’s face it, Mom won’t always be there to pack the lunch. They’ve gotta learn the basics on their own, too.

Diane Burdick, M. Ed. holds a masters in elementary education and a bachelors in history, and is currently pursuing her specialists degree with a concentration in teaching and learning. A homeschooling mother of three, she also enjoys freelancing for online publications.


Filed under Academic Success, Parenting, Snack Time

It’s Snack Time!

Build a Sense of Community While Providing Snacks for Every Student

3223706_lowHave you ever sat through a meeting or activity when all you could think about was getting something to eat? If so, then you might wonder how a child’s focus is affected when he or she is hungry.

Many school children come to class with empty stomachs, even if provided with a free or reduced-price breakfast. If they are not receiving adequate food at home, a quick breakfast loaded with carbohydrates may not tide them over until lunch several hours later.

Before I began teaching, I worked as a classroom volunteer for my own daughters, and I saw how the poorer students wistfully watched the other kids eat their cookies, chips, etc. I vowed that when I became a teacher, I would make sure that no one in the classroom went without a small snack. On the first day that I began teaching, I supplied a large Tupperware box with popcorn packs, low fat crackers, and cereal and invited students to help me fill the box with other favorites when it was running low. In my weekly newsletters, I would acknowledge families who had helped fill the container.

For those students who did not have the money to provide a bag or box of something, I positioned a big pink piggy bank at the front cart for students to give a nickel, quarter, or dollar when they were able. “Priscilla,” as we named her, was never empty. When she became a little heavy, two students would count the coins. We would always be amazed at how much money was raised for me to purchase more snacks. This gave these students a sense of pride and ownership in the classroom.

In addition to adding snacks to the daily routine, I have also given students the opportunity to share in the responsibility of serving each other. So as part of their routine, two to three students are assigned as Snack Helpers on a weekly basis to pass out snacks to every student. This has become one of the favored classroom jobs.

In all of the years that I have been doing this, I have never had a child wish they had something to eat. I have ultimately modeled healthy eating while showing care and concern for my students.  When families are given the opportunity to help and are thanked for their kindness, a hunger need is met, and a child is ready to learn.

About the Author: Lou Chafin is a third-grade teacher at Ruffner Elementary, a Title 1 School and West Virginia School of Excellence in Charleston, West Virginia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in K-8 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in communication from West Virginia University. Chafin is a member of the county cadre for the Positive Behavior Support Program and is also the coordinator of the program in her school. Chafin has been a classroom teacher at the intermediate level for six years, and her other career experience includes teaching preschool students with special needs and serving as a school librarian. Her philosophy in teaching is that “all students show respect and are respected when they are allowed to be an equal contributor to the classroom by serving and being served.”

We want to thank Lou Chafin for her wonderful contribution to A Learning Experience! She was awarded a $35 School Box gift card for being selected for publication on this online newsletter. To find out how to submit your own classroom ideas or insights for review, please click here.


Filed under Academic Success, Behavior Management, Classroom Community, Snack Time