Sugar Cookies with Naturally Dyed Frosting + a Zero Waste Classroom Party

Taking inspiration from Going Zero Waste, and a few researching hours later, I decided to have sugar cookies and hot chocolate for our Christmas party at school.

I wasn’t going to make these cookies nor frosting vegan because I would have to make enough for 45 students and I wanted them to have more traditional cookies without the fear of a nut allergy happening in my classroom. Our Kindergarten is full day, but only every other day so I have two different classes. I actually had 2 holiday parties. 😉

I used this cookie recipe and this frosting recipe. One batch of cookie dough was plenty, but two batches of frosting were required.

The only ingredient I needed was matcha powder and luckily found it at my local herb store in bulk because I knew I wouldn’t need much. I used turmeric for yellow / gold, beetroot powder for dark pink, and matcha for forest green.

I took the easy route with hot chocolate by simply buying chocolate milk in glass from a local dairy. I needed 2 gallons, so 4 bottles total. Also, I found some beautiful Christmas mugs and placemats for the party at a thrift shop, but I would also use them if needed at other times throughout the school year.

The chocolate milk was placed into my crockpot and set to warm so that it would not be too hot for my Kinders.

We listened to classic Christmas music and I finished putting string through their ornaments. They marveled at the big black discs of music! My family always busted out vinyl for Christmas and it’s still my favorite tradition. I would like to find more kid friendly tunes à la Charlie Brown or Rudolph and Frosty music albums.

The best way to avoid waste and also avoid owning too many drinking vessels and utensils is to work in groups at different table stations and then rotate so each child eventually gets to all the stations, but just not at the same time. After I mixed the frosting, they decorated their cookies. I did pick up some colorful sixlets in bulk for their cookie decorating table.

They saved them so we could all eat them together and so I could get a picture of them with their decorated cookies.

The stations:

  1. Decorate cookies
  2. Fun and simple holiday math page
  3. Drink hot chocolate from the glass mugs
  4. ELA iPad app of my choosing

It’s important to have the other stations be independent and engaging so I can focus my energy on the station that needs my help the most. I simply wash the mugs as the students finish drinking and have them ready for the next group of kids. It requires work, but with upfront planning, it can be extremely successful and fun!

They stood in front of my holiday board and had their picture taken by me using my Mamiya RB67 and peel-apart Fujifilm. They had a blast!

Do you have any zero waste party or general classroom tips?

Peace and love,


Thanksgiving at School

Today and tomorrow are the days we are celebrating Thanksgiving in my Kindergarten classroom. Historical accuracy is important to me, so I try my best to teach the students the history of the holiday. I also did some research on what foods would have or could have been present at the first or second Thanksgiving. Beans, corn, and squash were on my menu, as well as chestnuts. I cooked up mayacoba beans and roasted and laboriously peeled chestnuts.

To keep this fun day trash free, all ingredients were package free, and I brought plates from home for the students to eat from. I always have a small set of silverware at school. They ate in turns, like rotating stations, and I simply washed the plates and forks in between rotations.

To cook chestnuts: score an X on the flat side, through the shells and slightly into the meat. Bake at 425 Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then peel. My fingernails are still suffering from the process, but I had never even tried a chestnut before yesterday, and I have to say it was worth the pain. They are delicious! Nutty and sweet, and softer than expected.

The students made butter from cream by shaking it in a baby food jar; even though that part is not historically accurate, it’s too much fun not to include in the day’s activities. They chopped bell peppers, zucchini, potatoes, and green onions. The night before, I prepared a butternut squash from my garden and took it with me to add to our vegetable medley. I don’t eat meat and so I would never buy it for my students. I wouldn’t know where to purchase venison anyway.

I keep a plug in skillet at school for such occasions. It was given to us by a family member and it’s not something I would use at home.

Thanksgiving feast menu:

Potatoes, zucchini, winter squash, green onion, bell peppers – all package free

Sage – garden

Mayacoba beans – cooked from scratch + bought in bulk

Cream for butter – returnable glass bottle

Candy corn – reusable bulk bag

Chestnuts – reusable bulk bag

I have control over what kind of festivities happen in my classroom, and I expect them to align with my values. I composted scraps and am feeding any leftovers to my hens.

Basically a trash free classroom party! Produce stickers and napkins were tossed. I get a stack of napkins each time the vegetable grant comes to my room, so I feel that I should use those.

How would you implement zero waste into the classroom?

Peace and love,