A Classroom Tea Party

A Classroom Tea Party
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A tea party can be a wonderful experience for children of all ages, especially when combined with lessons on history and manners. Consider giving one with an elementary school class, your church Sunday School or if you homeschool, join with other families if you'd like a larger group. Boys and girls alike will benefit from learning about the tradition of Afternoon Tea.
You can heighten the children's excitement and expectations by sending them little invitations to the tea a few days before. These can be as simple as construction paper cut-outs with their name, the time, place, event and hostess.

On the day of the tea party, introduce each child individually and ask that they be seated. If you wish, give each person a name tag in the same shape as the party invitations. Begin your lesson by asking them what they know about afternoon tea and what their perceptions of it are. If possible, do a little comparison afterwards, to see how many of their ideas stayed the same and how many children changed their outlook on tea.

Consider reading aloud the book Tea Time with Emma Buttersnap by Lindsey Tate. This book is appropriate for preschool to about fourth grade. It includes some history, how to have a tea, what to make, and even has some cute, simple little crafts (like making their own placemat doilie. To keep their little minds attentive as you read, have a very simple "worksheet game" prepared with items that are answered as you read the book. If reading aloud to a larger group or class you may skip some of the sections as they aren't all necessary if they seem restless or time does not allow.

Learning About Manners

We also recommend putting a focus on manners, and how to behave during tea. Make this a fun thing, by calling up volunteers and letting them practice. Don't do too many rules of etiquette, just a few, and explain the reason why manners are important (to treat one another with love and respect and kindness). Here are some examples:

~ how to greet one another

~ no talking with your mouth full, so take tiny bites

~ don't put out your pinkies when you drink your tea

~ don't make a lot of noise when you stir your cup

~ don't sip the tea from you spoon, keep it in the saucer

~ don't talk about what food you like and don't like

~ try a little bit of everything

~put your napkin on your lap and don't put it on the table until you are done

You also might have them practice how to pour tea for someone. This can be fun, because they can ask the guest, "Would you like one lump or two?", which is very grown up and fun at the same time!

More Tea Discussion

As you discuss the different kinds of tea, let the kids smell some of the teas from tins so they can see the difference. (i.e. Earl Grey vs English Breakfast vs Lapsang Souchaoung vs Camomile) You won't need too many, but it is a hands-on type lesson that will interest them. Any time they can do smell, taste, touch or see type activities, they will be far more interested and involved. Perhaps you could provide a teaspoon of each in a tiny cup-one for each child. Don't brew the teas too early or they might loose some of their aroma.

You can also take a little time to show them the basic accouterments for tea time such as: tea pot, tea cup and saucer, napkin, tea spoon, sugar tongs, creamer and sugar dish, jam pot, etc.

To encourage more discussion pass out little cut-outs with questions on them that are conversation starters for the students. Examples: hearts for a Valentine's Tea, tea pots for everyday or other holiday shapes. One of the best parts of tea is the conversation, and learning to think about others and inquire about them. If a table is very quiet, perhaps you can help things along a little by asking your own questions of some of the students.

The Tea Party

As far as serving tea and food for your tea party, keep it simple. Consider kid friendly sandwiches on thin white bread that has been cut into shapes. Peanut butter mixed with a little cream and honey is always a favorite. Small scones, little premade tartlets filled with chocolate or lemon pudding, or tiny homemade sugar cookies. You could also visit a local bakery to buy petit fours, cookies or mini muffins. Consider serving cambric tea, which is mostly warm milk and sugar with a little tea. Another option is chamomile tea and honey, which is mild and was a favorite of Peter Rabbit's mother in the Beatrix Potter tales.

Remember that sharing this Lesson on Tea is so much more than teaching history and manners. You will be creating memories that will last a lifetime with the children you invite. As you are planning your tea keep in mind their ages and their attention spans. The younger they are, the more interaction they will need, and more supervision. Be sure you have at least two volunteers, and if this is your first tea party with a group, keep it as simple as possible. Choose the suggestions that will work with your group, and remember, the key is to have fun and learn at the same time!

Additional Recommended Reading

I'm a Little Teapot! (Click Title for ordering information)

by Jane Cobb (Compiler), Magda Lazicka (Illustrator)

Complete text for 500 action rhymes and much more!

Let's Have a Tea Party! (Click Title for ordering information)

by Emilie Barnes, Michal Sparks (Illustrator), Sue Junker

Creative invitations, yummy recipes, and ideas for fun activities

A Little Book of Manners : Etiquette for Young Ladies

(Click Title for ordering information)

by Emilie Barnes, Michal Sparks (Illustrator),

Basic good manners, explaining why and how but stressing a loving attitude instead of only the rules.


 

About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 

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