I have noticed that the longer the Great Recession goes on, the hungrier my students get. Free school breakfast and lunch are great, but students still want snacks.
Our lunchtime is quite late, and everyone gets hungry mid-morning. Classroom snack time is nice—but not if only some kids have snacks. On any given day, about a quarter to a third of my class remembers to bring a snack—mostly the students who bring their lunch to school. I feel bad for the kids who don’t have snacks.
I buy Saltines to keep in the classroom. They’re a perfect snack—tasty but not very exciting. I buy the Ralston brand, which doesn’t have any trace of peanut. I can usually buy a box for $1.50 or less. That’s four stacks, and my class runs a stack-a-day habit, so I’m paying less than $2 a week to feed a good portion of my class.
I have a hard-and-fast rule: a serving size is 4 crackers, and you can only have crackers if you didn’t bring a snack. The students enforce this, and are actually grateful for the crackers each and every day. (It’s nice that they don’t take it for granted.)
I know it costs money, but I swear that my classroom is running better since I started supplying Saltines every day, not just for random snacks here and there. The kids focus well for the remaining time until lunch. You can buy the crackers yourself or ask parents to donate them. Other good and cheap snacks are raisins, graham crackers, and string cheese. Those packages of peanut butter crackers are nice if you don’t have a peanut allergy, but little kids don’t need 6 crackers. Tell them to share with a buddy.
The crackers are also nice for “curing” classroom ailments. Sometimes, I can treat an upset stomach by suggesting the student have some water and a cracker or two.
…My students and their stack a day habit. Next year, they’re going to need a Saltine patch!