After-school surprises for star students

Aug 17, 2011 at 9:56 a.m. ET

Your kids are making the back-to-school transition, and rewarding your star students is with some special after-school treats and surprises. Easy snacks are the centerpiece, paired with time to listen and learn the triumphs of their day. Make sure they see that you celebrate their success.

Star shaped sandwiches

1You're a star!

If your child is a hard-working student, remind her that she's a star. Serve up mini-sandwiches cut into star shapes. Favorite fillings (such as peanut butter and salami) in bite-size star shapes are an ideal snack to share while she tells you about her day.

2Get fruity.

Serve them a warm fruit-and-nut snack tucked into a paper cup decorated with gold foil stars. Combine two cups dried fruit – apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries – with two cups salted nuts. Spread the mixture on a baking pan and pop it into a 350 F oven to heat. In five minutes, you'll have a special and satisfying snack.

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3Sushi, anyone?

Make mock sushi rolls as a fun way to serve vegetable snacks. Flatten bread slices with a rolling pin, and spread with cream cheese. Lay two carrot and two cucumber matchsticks on the bottom of each slice with the ends hanging over the edge. Roll up bread, pressing gently to seal, and slice each roll into four equal pieces.

4get Crunchy & creamy.

Peanut butter granola balls provide energy to hit the books and do homework. You'll need 1/3 cup honey, ¼ cup peanut butter, two tablespoons unsalted butter, one cup crisp rice cereal, one cup old-fashioned rolled oats and ¼ cup dried fruit. Heat the honey, butter and peanut butter in a small pan over medium heat, stirring until loosened and smooth – about two minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the remaining ingredients. Drop mixture by spoonfuls into mini paper cupcake liners and refrigerate until set (15 minutes.) Store refrigerated in an airtight container.

Get your kids excited about going back to school >>

5Build a brag board.

Set up a bulletin or white board on which special papers, assignments, drawings and awards can be posted. Keep a calendar there, too, to mark special school activities and help them keep track of upcoming events and school projects. Kids of every age crave recognition for the hard work they do at school, and creating a brag area reminds them that you are proud of their efforts and accomplishments. Surprise them with a prominent display space for their best work.

Find out more ways to make your children feel special every day >>

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