A couple of times a month I invite a handful of students to have lunch in the classroom. I know what you’re thinking, “Lunch in the classroom is nothing new”. But I like to trick the kids into thinking it’s something special. We like to call it “Lunch Bunch” and this party is invite only. Don’t worry, everybody will be invited but I get to choose who and when.
Generally I choose one week a month to do lunch bunch. It usually takes me three or four days to get through my class. I divide the kids into groups of 4 or 5 (I’m SO lucky to have small class sizes). At the beginning of the week I let the kids know that this is a lunch bunch week. They all know that they will receive an invitation but they don’t know which day will be their day. Each morning they excitedly check their desks for a lunch bunch invitation. When the students receive an invite they are so excited!
Lunch Bunch doesn’t happen until lunch (duh!). When I excuse the other kids for lunch my lunch bunch friends stay behind. I usually try to bring a treat from home to make it a little more exciting. We push the desks together to create a big dining room table. Then we all sit around our big table and eat and talk and eat and talk some more.
I cannot tell you how valuable this time is for me! First of all, I can get to know my students and speak to them about their lives outside of the classroom.
Secondly, I can observe the kids in their natural habitat. Sometimes I get real, real quiet and just listen as the kids chatter away with one another. I find out lots of valuable information about my little kiddos that I could never learn while I’m teaching math or discussing the causes if the American Revolution.
Another great thing about lunch bunch is that I make the groups! This lets me support new friendships and help students socially. For example, last year I got a sweet new boy at the beginning of the year. He barely spoke a word in class and at lunch he sat by himself. I did a little digging and was able to figure out some of his interests outside of school. The next lunch bunch I paired him with a couple of boys that had similar interests. He was able to chat and even joke around with the boys in the less intimidating setting of lunch bunch. Over the next few weeks he developed meaningful friendships with a couple of the boys he was paired with during lunch bunch.
By midyear he was much more comfortable and his participation in class improved as well. Now I can’t credited that all to lunch bunch but I definitely think it got the ball rolling.
Well, I think I’ve babbled on long enough. As you can tell I heart lunch bunch! I would definitely recommend trying it in your own class. You can use these cute lil invitations to start your own lunch bunch.
Let me know how it goes!