Holidays are the perfect reminder to inject a little fun into your coaching routine.
One of my favorite things to do as a coach was to create small surprises for my students that broke up routine a bit, added a little fun and sent a clear message that I thought about them – and not just the routines.
It’s amazing how a little surprise can send a big message. It lets your performers know that you care about making them smile (and not just about getting them to spin together), and knowing that you spent your own valuable time to make them something that is not related to practice or performance will really mean a lot. These types of gestures go a long way with any kid – and especially with teenagers.
(I can’t tell you how many years… yes YEARS I kept a special little stuffed animal one of my first coaches gave to me at my first competition. And in that case all she did was tie a good luck card around the neck with ribbon. I cherished it.)
How lucky are we now to have an amazing resource (in the way of Pinterest) for coming up with easy and fun ways to spread the smiles? I don’t coach anymore, but I do have my own children and this week, while I was searching for lunchbox surprises for my own kids, it struck me how amazing it would have been to have had a site like this when I was coaching guard. Zillions of creative and EASY ideas (yes… easy is the key since we know that the rest of coaching does zap literally all of your free time) that are as great for your high school kids as they are for my elementary-aged kids.
Here were 3 options I found through Pinterest (at 3 different levels of investment in terms of time and effort required) with links to their blogs.
[ Quick note: remember to be conscious of food allergies - many of the ideas include treats/candy, so if you have a student with food allergies you’ll want to check with their parent ahead of time for alternatives or choose a treat that doesn’t involve food. ]
Easy Peasy Lollipop Spiders: This is probably one of the easiest crafty treats I found. I can’t wait to do this one for my kids’ lunchboxes. But it would be equally as easy to do for a whole team.
[photo from House of Baby Piranha blog used with permission]
The photo was originally pinned from a blog called House of Baby Piranha where she has more detailed instructions.
This would be fun at the end of practice, after a performance – or, for an even bigger surprise, send it to homeroom with a little note letting them know this happy spider wishes them a happy day. When I was teaching, our school allowed for notes or other treats to be distributed to kids through their homeroom teachers with approval from the administration.
Halloween-themed bus treat? How about keeping it healthy with some chocolate milk and a mummy-wrapped apple?
This is what my own children found in their lunchboxes last Monday.
The “mummy” was originally an idea from Better Homes and Gardens to decorate a pumpkin (check out “Gauzy Glow Pumpkin for Halloween”). But the idea was easy to transfer from pumpkin to apple (or orange ) with just some gauze, googly eyes and a sharpie.
The “Mind Your Mummy” note was a free printable from Leelou-blogs. It might not be the right note for a coach (worked great for my kids) but if you search “Halloween Printables” or “Halloween Lunchbox Notes” you can probably find a good mummy joke lunchbox note to print and pass along if you can’t come up with something cute yourself (if you do come up with a good mummy-themed guard note we’d love to hear it in the comments below!) Or just wrap the milk/juicebox/waterbottle too and have a pair of mummies in the snack bag. No note required!
photo by Megan Turnidge, used with permission
If you’re into baking and really want to go all out, ice cream cone cupcakes have always been one of my favorites for sharing with students. Avoiding wrappers, they’re an easy-to-manage treat requiring little clean-up after the kids eat. I used to make them for my classroom students on the last day of school each year. These would be great after a game or competition (I know many of you have state or championships competitions here at the end of October) or, you know, cupcakes are really appropriate anytime in my book ;).
A Frankenstein version of these cupcake cones are featured on “designs by Megan Turnridge” with step-by-step instructions.
Parents.com also features these Frankenstein Cones but using them as treat holders rather than cupcakes. Just fill the cone with some Halloween snack mix or even candy. Here’s the link to the article on Parents.com
(you have to sign up for their website to view the whole post – which is a free sign-in)
[ Again... be careful and aware of food allergies. No one likes to be left out so if you have a performer with food allergies - talk to their parents for safe alternatives or find another treat. ]
In the end, it really doesn’t matter what project or treat you choose or how easy or difficult it is. Whether it’s simple candy, a note or a more creative effort, what matters is sending the message to your team that you care about them as people and not just about the scores, counts, colors and spins. Little gestures like this can go a long way in getting that point across. And besides – it’ll feel great when you see those smiles (and you know… smiling is contagious! Soon they’ll be creating nice little surprises for each other – you just might inspire a kindness avalanche!!)
Here’s the link to my Halloween Board on Pinterest in case anyone wants a place to get started.
Do you have Halloween traditions on your team? Share your ideas by leaving a comment below!
About the Author (Author Profile)
Catina Anderson is the founder/editor of the Colorguard Educators blog. Color guard has been part of her life for almost 25 years. She began coaching in 1994 and worked with the Broad Run High School color guard in Northern VA from 1998 until 2010. She has also written for Halftime Magazine and served on the Executive Board of the Atlantic Indoor Association. A former teacher, she enjoys sharing what she has learned and hopes to encourage others to share as well. Together we can create even more positive experiences for performers and help to collectively strengthen marching arts activities worldwide.