A+ Secrets of Awesome School Volunteers

When You Volunteer for Snack Duty: 3 Fast Ideas

Classroom Moms

The teacher will love you for bringing these treats because they're a little less sugary -- and the kids will love you because the treats are fun.

1. Snack-Mix Buffet

Fill colorful bowls and buckets with a mix of sweet and savory munchies. Our healthy take includes popcorn, pretzels, low-sugar cereal, and dried fruit, plus white chocolate chips and animal crackers for kid appeal. Provide single-serving bags and plenty of scoops and spoons.

Classroom Moms

2. Watermelon Pizza

Top 1-inch-thick rounds of seedless watermelon with 2 tablespoons of strawberry jam. Sprinkle on halved green grapes, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and sweetened coconut flakes. Slice the rounds like pizzas and serve.

Classroom Moms

3. Funny Face Fruit Cups

If your child's school allows packaged snacks only, bring cellophane- topped fruit cups jazzed up with permanent marker.

Streamline With Online

Our school encourages room parents to set up a Shutterfly Share Site. It's an easy, private way to stay in touch, and it's quick to set up! We can share pictures and news and send e-mails to our site members. There's a calendar and a sign-up list for volunteers. At the end of the year, there's the option of ordering a book featuring all the photos parents have uploaded -- a great teacher gift or memento.
Jill Couch
Irving, TX

I organize school parties and events with SignUpGenius.com. Instead of sending out an e-mail with a list of things needed and then having to sort through all the replies, I can create one central list that everyone has access to. The inbox clutter and double sign-ups are a thing of the past!
Megan Paradiso
Livingston, NJ

Be a Strategic Planner

To cover expected expenses for parties, field trips, and more, collect money at the beginning of the year. It's much easier to ask for money once rather than every other week. If the amount is too large for some families to pay all at once, invite them to break it into smaller payments made over time.
Lisa Ely
Lake Balboa, CA

Before planning any parties, find out if there are any kids with food allergies in the class and get in touch with their parents. They'll probably be very willing to help find safe foods, teach you to read labels, and so on. They may also be willing to buy or prepare safe foods for the class.
Deirdre Popp
Manlius, NY

I always keep extra party supplies in the trunk of my car, just in case someone forgets to send things in on the designated day. My stash includes cups, plates, napkins, forks, games, and even crafts. These supplies come in handy for impromptu family picnics, too!
Tonya Fant
Decatur, IL

Anticipating that there would be leftovers from the many classroom Christmas parties, I arranged with the school to collect the food. I nearly filled the bed of our full-size pickup! Then my daughters and I delivered the goodies to a local homeless shelter. The teachers were grateful for the cleanup, and they loved the spirit in which the chore was handled.
Hope Eggleston
Hesperia, CA

At the end of the school year, I sent home gift bags with a CD of all the pictures I'd taken during the year. It was truly appreciated by the working parents who couldn't attend every class event. They got to see their kids having fun, and the children now have a great keepsake to enjoy as they get older.
Karen Proctor
Merritt Island, FL

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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