Friday, July 6, 2012

My favorite back to school activity: Cooking Up a Great Year Together!

Question time....
What do these popular children's books...

Click on the titles to check them out on Amazon! 

and this bowl have in common?

At first glance one might say not a lot, but those books and this random bowl of snacks make up my one of my favorite back to school activities, Cooking Up a Great Year Together!
In the words of Farley, I puffy heart this activity.  It combines so many of my favorite things: food, children's literature, character education, AND community building! :)  

Each day, I read my kiddos a book about one of following character traits below.  Each character trait stands for an ingredient for a great year together! :)
I hang these posters up in my classroom one by one, once each character trait is introduced, and keep them up all year long. I refer back to them as needed throughout the year. :) 
After reading the book, each student fills out a graphic organizer about the character trait the book was about.  So we know what that character trait looks like, feels like, sounds like, etc. :)
Once everyone has filled out their graphic organizers, we combine our ideas to make anchor charts to hang up in our classroom. 
I love, love having these anchor charts up during the first few weeks of school while we are settling into our routines and expectations. :)  Since I have a tiny room, I plan on taking pictures of the anchor charts and having them available for my friends throughout the year, especially as they forget what each trait looks like, sounds like, and feels like in our classroom. 

After reading the book, filling out the organizer, and then making the anchor chart, I introduce a snack item that goes with the book.  When I read Rainbow Fish, I show the kiddos a bag of goldfish and when I read Chrysanthemum, I show a bag of mini marshmallows,etc. .  Once we have read all six books, we put all the ingredients together in a big bowl and enjoy a special snack together while we review what each ingredient represents.
The ingredients I use changes each year, due to allergies, but I usually have goldfish (sharing), fruit loops (be yourself), pretzels (be a good friend), marshmallows (kindness), animal crackers (responsibility), and popcorn (teamwork).  This special snack is one of my kiddos favorite things all year long, and it does help the concept stick! Many times when they bring pretzels for a snack they comment that "this reminds me of friendship." 

This really is one of my favorite ways to build community in my classroom, and it really opens the door for some powerful discussions about good character in a non threatening way.  I'm always so amazed by the discussions we have in my classroom when we do this activity every year!

I have uploaded this activity to both of my stores, and I hope you give it a look when you plan out your back to school activities.  I'm not just saying this because it's my product, I'm saying it because it really is a great way to get kiddos to understand some abstract character traits and how displaying good character really does help us have a great year together! :) I have also included multiple options for books for each trait to make finding/securing books easier.  Over the years, I have purchased most of my favorites, but I also check out some from my local library as well. I also included several possible books for each topic because I am departmentalized, so my teaching partner and I both talk about the same trait on the same day.  It's nice for our kids to hear two books about the same topic and discuss it what it looks like in the classroom with both of us. For example, for teamwork, I might read The Wizard, the Fairy, and the Magic Chicken but my teaching partner might read Cook-a-doodle-doo. Some of my favorites are out of print BUT are easily found buying from outside sellers on Amazon or on In many cases, the books are used, but I just select one that is in good condition.   I do suggest buying a few weeks ahead of time if you do that.  Most are quick but sometimes media mail can be slow.

Just click on the picture below for to check it out!  If you purchase, I hope you LOVE it! :)


  1. This is such a cute activity!! I always read Chrysanthemum so I am definitely pinning this activity to go along with it. I love it!
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  2. There's nothing better than a great book to teach classroom culture!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  3. Great ideas!! And that snack looks yummy!
    A Cupcake for the Teacher

  4. This looks PERFECT for the beginning of the year! I, heading over to check it out now (and to order those books from Amazon!!!) Thanks!!! :-)

  5. This sounds amazing! Heading over to TPT to add it to my cart!
    Thanks for creating it!

    A Pirates Life for Us

  6. LOVE this idea!! I saw something similar on Pinterest, but I love that this incorporates great beginning of the year books!

  7. This is a wonderful idea!! Thanks so much for sharing, I'm off to check out those books too :)

    Kylie :)

  8. Soooo cute! I do something similar in the beginning of the year (minus your adorable "recipe") to highlight the Character Counts model our school district there any way you could offer a modified version of this for purchase that includes the 6 pillars of character in place of your character "traits"? If so, I'd buy it in a heartbeat! :)

  9. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and adding support! You are so kind!

    Tales From a Traveling Teacher

  10. What a cute idea - I definitely want to use that this year! I did want to let you know that your TPT link isn't working...I had to add a : after the http to make it work correctly. :)

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  12. Fun, fun FUN!!! This certainly qualifies as GOURMET. What a blessing to those families that you focus your kiddos in on those values! Keep up the HEART work.

    The Corner On Character

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