Easy recipes, fun reviews, and silly chatter from three
gluten-free, additive-free, and wholesome eating kids!

Friday, April 8, 2011

How to have a Gluten-Free Awareness Event at your school!

This is going to be long but I wanted to include all the details so that other moms could see how easy, yet helpful, it is to do a little gluten-free event at a school where your gluten-free child attends. (I think I use the word "fun" a million and one times below...but that's because it was really so much FUN!)

As most of you know both my son's are sensitive to gluten.  Recently they have both been telling me that their friends at school have been asking a lot of questions at lunch time about why they can't eat wheat. Brother Chef was really upset about this because, as he put it, “I get so tired of saying the same thing over and over.”
 So I thought it would be beneficial to have a Gluten-Free Awareness Event for both their classes.

I just called my son's teachers and told them what I had in mind and asked if they thought it would be something the students would like. They loved the idea and we set up the date and times. 

Right around the same time I was trying to decide what one would do at a Gluten-Free School Event I saw a twitter post about a new book by Stephanie Skolmoski, called  "The Celiac Kid", and it sounded like the perfect book for our event! So I contacted her and she sent us a copy of her book to read and bookmarks!

I didn’t just want to read a book though and decided that letting the children taste some gluten-free cookies would be fun. My first thought was to make them but our school has a “No Homemade Treats” policy so that wasn’t an option. So I decided to contact some companies that offer gluten-free cookies and ask them if they would like to send samples for the event.


I ended up with SEVEN different kinds of cookies from three different companies!!! 

So I had the cookies and bookmarks, and then decided to see if I could think of any other items to add. I thought it would be neat to include some activity sheets and at first was unable to find anything at all. 

I finally stumbled upon a word search that listed different allergies. 

I also came across a coloring sheet.

And little Chef is obsessed with mazes, loves them so much, so Daddy Chef made this maze to include.

Brother Chef's special education teacher made copies of all of the activity sheets at school.

I also decided to contact a local pizza restaurant because they offer a gluten-free curst. They were so wonderful and provided gift certificates to give to each child!

And I had a few boxes of little activity packs that I added, they had tiny coloring books and crayons in them. Not related to gluten-free of course, I just had them on hand and had been needing to use them up so I thought they would be fun.

I ended up with such a wonderful variety of items that I decided to make individual Gluten-Free Goodie Bags!

All the Junior Chefs spent the weekend before the event helping me assemble the bag. We decided to put everything in brown lunch sacks and glued our label on them.

We had fun filling each bag, though it was hard to keep from eating all the samples! 

Want to know exactly what went in each bag?!

Again, I want to thank everyone that sent in items for this event!!

Below is a list of each item, each one links to the review we did when the items came in so make sure you click on each one so you can check out all the details.

Gluten-Free Goodie Bags:
Bookmarks from The Celiac Kid
Cookies from Mi-Del Cookies
Cookies and Brochures from Mary's Gone Crackers
Cookies from Nana's Cookie Company
Gift Certificate and menus from Rafferty's Pizza
Grab and Go Play Packs provided Momma Chef
Maze made by Daddy Chef
Word Search found at http://kidsallergies.co.uk/
Coloring Sheet found at http://bry-backmanor.org/


I also wrote a little letter for parents, the teacher's put them in the students' "take home" folders.

Dear Parent,
Today your child attended a Gluten-Free Awareness Event! They learned what Celiac Disease is and how gluten affects the children that have gluten allergies or sensitivities. They were read “The Celiac Kid", talked about what life without gluten is like for celiac children, and were given gluten-free goodie bags.

If you would like more information about Celiac Disease ask your doctor, you can also find more information at www.celiac.com

If you are interested in buying gluten-free items you can find many products locally,

*insert local stores that carry GF products*

Or find products online at: www.glutenfree.com

A huge thank you goes out to our sponsors for donating items for this event!

Feel free to ask your child how they liked tasting a gluten-free cookie and what they think would be the hardest or easiest part of being a gluten-free kid!


Now it was time to go speak at the school! 

The first classroom I spoke at was Brother Chef’s special education room; there was a variety of ages in attendance, mostly younger children. The teacher introduced me as Brother Chef’s mom and told them I was there to talk about allergies. They were very attentive and curious. I started out by asking if anyone knew what the word “allergy” meant. They pondered this for a few seconds and finally one child said “Is it germs?” I told him that was a good answer and that they were very similar because germs make you sick and that if you have an allergy to something it causes a reaction, which can make you sick.
Then I asked if anyone could think of things that people could be allergic to. They needed a few prompts but eventually came up with animals, pollen, bees, and peanuts. I explained that some people can also be allergic or sensitive to foods such as wheat, eggs, dairy, corn or soy.  I told them that now I was going to read them a book about a kid who can’t eat wheat/gluten.
There was not a single peep while I read the story; they were totally engrossed in the book! The book gives many details about life as a child who can’t eat certain foods.  The boy in the book talks about how he handles eating at school, birthday parties, and explains s a little about the medical aspect as well. 

When I was done with the book they all started talking exciting at once.
“That boy has his own bag of food at school…just like Brother Chef!”
“I want to read a food label!”
“That boy is really smart, I like him.”
We talked about all these issues and Brother Chef was the center of attention while all the kids asked him a lot of questions about why he can or can’t eat certain foods.  He had a big smile on his face the whole time so I knew he was enjoying educating his friends about dietary limitations. 

Then I told the kids that some wonderful companies had sent them gluten-free cookies to try, they were so excited! Brother Chef and his friend passed out the goodie bags to the children and the teachers. (Don’t forget to make bags for the staff!) The kids loved the cookies and said they tasted just fine to them! They were pretty happy with the other items in the bag too, a few of the children started working on the little worksheets right away.  We talked more about foods and allergies while they ate and then it was time for me to go speak to Brother Chef’s regular classroom! 

This class was 4th grade so the book I was reading was a little under their reading level but because Brother Chef is in the class and they see him eating different foods the subject matter was relevant to them.  I opened again by asking what they knew about allergies and quite a few of the children listed the most common allergies. Some of the children knew names of medicines that would cause them to have an allergic reaction.  I read the book to them and it went ok, I could tell it didn’t hold their attention 100%, there was a lot of whispers and fidgeting but when I was done they had a lot of questions. They asked Brother Chef what foods he missed the most, when did he first know he couldn’t eat some foods, and what would happen if he ate a lot of the foods that he is sensitive to. Then Brother Chef passed out the goodie bags to them and that really got them involved! Everyone started comparing and trading their cookies. And then they found the coupons for a free pizza and they went nuts, a few of the children ran up to me wanting to know exactly where the pizza place was and what type of pizza could they get.  

And then something happened that brought tears to my eyes.  Brother Chef was sitting next to me and another student came up to him and proudly handed him one of his cookies.  I was a bit confused and said “Oh, that’s your cookie. You don’t have to give it back to Brother Chef.” The boy looked at me with a huge smile and said “But I want to give it to him. I like to share but he never takes my food when I offer and it makes me sad that he can’t but now I have something that I can give him!”
I think my heart melted a little at that point. :-)

Then it was time to go to Little Chef’s class! The age range for this room was 4-6 years old and they were so adorable.  I loved their answers to my questions so much! I explained what an allergy was and then asked if they could think of something that one could be allergic to.
“A bike?”
They sure kept a smile on my face!

I read the book and they were so adorable, they kept scooting closer and closer to me as the book got more interesting, by the end they were almost perched on my feet! 

 There were lots of cute comments during the story.
When the book listed a few items that contain gluten, including play-dough one boy yelled “So, if I was a Celiac, I couldn’t eat play-dough?”
When we got to the part about what the gluten does inside the body of someone with Celiac’s disease one girl said ““Well that isn’t very nice.”
They really enjoyed the story and asked a lot of questions about Will, the boy in the book. They liked his cape and said he sounded fun. 

After the book reading Little Chef passed out the goodie bags to all the students and the staff, he was so proud of those bags! 

I was a little worried about the cookies because toddlers can be so picky but they loved them! The teacher had suggested to them that they could eat one and take the rest home but…that didn’t happen as the kids kept tearing the bags open and eating all the cookies!
After everyone was done the teacher called each one up to the board so they could put their name on either “Yes” or “No” in answer to “Did you like your gluten-free cookies?”  and I was shocked that all but one said “Yes!!” 

Again,  this day was SO MUCH FUN and the kids really learned a few things and the boys were SO PROUD AND HAPPY! 

I would encourage all of you to also plan such an event at your child's school!
If you have any questions just ask away!


  1. This is beautiful! I'm so happy for your kids that they got to celebrate living gluten-free and shared it with their friends. My daughter is just a week old(!), so I'm not sure yet if she has any issues with gluten but if she does, I definitely want to do something like this at her school.

  2. this is really cool! i think i will do this at our school-i know the kids would love it!