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August 15, 2013

Cute Ideas, But...

Over the last year or so, I've come across a LOT of teaching ideas on Pinterest and one that ALWAYS makes me cringe is the one where teachers use M&Ms in their activities.  Now, let me explain.  I loooooove M&Ms.  And I think using candy (especially chocolate) is a GREAT way to teach ANYTHING to a child.  BUT.  What about ALLERGIES?!?! What about those students who have peanut and nut allergies?  M&Ms are NOT peanut/nut free, even if you use the milk chocolate ones!

Maybe I'm being overly paranoid. Or maybe I'm extra careful because I have an allergic child.  That's right! Little Man Ty is allergic to peanuts, nuts, sunflower seeds and dairy!  Sending him to a friend's house, or even to a relative's house, is absolutely nerve-wracking for me.  I worry constantly that he's going to eat something he shouldn't, or even touch something that's been in contact with one of his allergens.  Because of his allergies, he doesn't get invited to a lot of his friends' birthday parties.  Parents are "scared" to have him over, (even though I would most likely stay over while he's visiting anyways) and that just breaks my heart (but that's a post for another time).

The one place (besides our own home) where I'd like to think that my child is completely safe, is at school.  Even though the schools in our area are peanut/nut aware and discourage students from bringing foods that could cause  anaphylaxis in a child,  I worry that someone will forget and that will be the day where Ty decides to accept a trade in his lunch.  However, I expect his teachers to know better and to protect him (this being said, I did watch one of his teacher eat peanut butter cookies for lunch, then teach him right after, laughing it off when I suggested that he wash his hands and brush his teeth as a precaution).  Therefore, the idea of bringing M&Ms in the classroom is just plain crazy to me.

And these are just a few ideas that I found on Pinterest.  When I did a search on TpT, I noticed a lot of products encouraging teachers to use M&Ms in the classroom. They are all AWESOME ideas, but PLEASE, I'm begging you, DON'T USE M&Ms in the classroom!  You don't need to use a potentially deadly treat for a graphing activity because it's cute!

So what could we use instead? Here's a list of snacks and treats that you could easily substitute the M&Ms for:
  • Smarties
  • Skittles
  • Goldfish Crackers (they even have all kinds of colours now too!)
  • Starbust
  • Sweet Tarts
  • Mike & Ikes
  • Nerds
  • and there are so many others!
One last thing.  When you prepare activities that involve food, please don't prepare something different for the allergic child just in case!!  Having food allergies is already hard enough and Ty hates that he's different than his friends.  Why point out the differences by excluding him?  There are so many different companies that now offer peanut/nut free, glutten-free, dairy-free etc. food that there really is no excuse for not paying attention to a student's alllergies.


  1. Thanks for this post. I completely agree. I, too, have a child with a peanut and tree nut allergy. I love clever lesson ideas as much as the next teacher, but I hate to endanger a child or exclude a child.

  2. You are so right. Teachers need to be sure to use peanut-free foods in all classes -even if none of the students is identified as allergic, because the children in other classes play with them at recess. And the bottom line is that no one should be hurt. Thanks for the list.


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