Should you ever eat ice cream for dinner at school? I never used to think so; I’m still not sure I do. But I’ve been wondering, lately.

Over the break, my family came down with COVID. I got it first, and I isolated frantically. I was stuck in my room, I missed family Christmas — and then my daughter caught it anyway. Right now, she’s missing a class trip that she’d been looking forward to for months because of her positive test. She missed Christmas, isolated in her room. A season that should be all about joy and togetherness was anything but.

And then, despite our best efforts, another family member got it, and another. I still have kids isolating. The whole holiday season has been, to put it succinctly, awfully disappointing.

We know we were lucky — we were all vaccinated and our cases were mild. We managed not to give it to any extended family members who may have been at higher risk. Sometimes, however — even if you can definitely count your blessings — it’s okay not to feel lucky.

So on the last night of a disappointing vacation, we had ice cream for dinner. We didn’t try to mix in anything healthy. We just indulged. Even though we have everyone together, we could all be together in a little silly frivolity. I think we’ll make it a tradition; ice cream for dinner on the last night before school, just because.

Ice Cream in the Classroom

I’ve always been a vegetable pizza teacher — tasty, but with a little something nutritious. I love silly frivolity in class. I know that kids learn best when they’re engaged, and that there are a myriad of ways to make learning fun. I love to use fun as a tool in the service of learning.

But the learning is always there; I always mix in something edifying. If you’ve seen our Timely Topics, you’ll understand what I mean. They’re fun. They involve exploration and play. But they’re also educational. 

Generally, that’s the best approach. Learning is a wonderful, life-building thing. A big part of me feels like fun without learning is a missed opportunity. But I’ve been wondering, lately.

A Question

They say that there’s a time for everything: a time for work and a time for play. Maybe on occasion — not always, but sometimes — we can play in the classroom simply for fun. After all, not all benefits are academic benefits. What do you think? When you’re having fun in class, is it ever okay to JUST have fun? Or is it always better to mix in something academic?

And if you DO have times where you just have fun, how do you decide when to do it? When is it appropriate, and when is it excessive?

I’d love to hear your thoughts; teachers can learn so much when we connect and share ideas with each other. Let me know on Twitter @BenTalsma, or send us an email. Is it ever the best choice just to have a little metaphorical ice cream for dinner in class — or should we always leaven our fun with some learning?

*Image courtesy of Benreis via Wikimedia Commons.

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