My Big Helper is a lot like her daddy - she loves words. Compliments really motivate her and make her feel loved, and since that is not my love language, I am intentional about making sure she gets the positive words that she needs.
Since she's in public school and away from us for hours each day, I started looking for ways to encourage her while she's in school and surrounded by attitudes that may not always be positive. I decided that her lunch box would make a great vessel for carrying words that she's sure to see each day.
Besides actually packing fun foods, foods that she particularly likes, and surprise lunches for her, these are our favorite forms of lunch box love:
1. Word Searches. On a smallish sheet of paper - or a blank notecard, as shown below - I use colored pens and markers to make up a word search. On this one, since summer is approaching, I used summery, fun words. I start by imagining a grid and then writing in the words I want her to find. As I write down each one, I also write the word at the top for her to cross off when she finds it. I add a short note to the front and back of the folded card - and maybe some stickers - and tuck it into her lunch box with a fun pen or pencil.
My Big Helper was super excited about this the first time I did it and told me later that she and her friends hunted for the words together. She now asks for word searches on a regular basis!
2. Top Five Quizzes My Big Helper isn't old enough for any of those silly magazine quizzes that are so popular, but giggling groups of girls always love to take them - and mine isn't any different. Instead of ways to catch a boy or the best shade of lip gloss, though, I make my own quizzes using fun colored pens, stickers, and rubber stamps on note cards like above. I ask things like, "What's your favorite book?" or "Rank your best lunches from 1-5" and "Tell me the best thing about your day so far." I keep the questions short and am sure to do both multiple choice and open answer questions so that she can freely answer without being overwhelmed. With no more than 5 questions, she has time to answer and time to think about the answers, and again, she and her friends deliberate it together. She always writes notes to me on the back and returns it to me when she gets home.
I've found out some neat things about my girl this way. For example, we tend to eat the same thing for lunch most days. That works for her brother and I, but like her daddy, she prefers a bit more variety - and even wants to try new foods in her lunchbox! While this makes it more challenging for me to pack, she has more fun at lunch, and I enjoy talking about her new lunchbox experiences with her. She's found a few new favorites this way.
3. Banana Peel Love Who knew you could carve in banana peels? I've never seen that medium in a museum - but it works great. Just take a toothpick or a really sharp, thin-bladed knife and carve right into your banana peel, trying not to go the whole way through. It won't look any different right away, but by the time that lunch rolls around, the air will react with the peel and turn the carved edges brown - making your message of love and inspiration stand out. The first time I did this, My Big Helper was so excited that she was determined to save the banana peel and brought it home to show me!
Who knew that a few colorful words could be so important?
Do you do something to make your child's lunch box experience special? I'd love some new ideas!