Back to school means packing a lunchbox for a lot of parents! Gone are the days of brown bags and bologna on white bread (although some days that sounds so yummy!) Now kids get themed bentos with perfectly written notes. At least that’s what Pinterest tells you…right? Well whether you ever dive into Pinterest or not, you might consider slipping a note between the sandwich and juice box now and again. Now I’m not the pinterest perfect mom, but I do have a child who upon entering Kindergarten could read. Very well. In fact, she’s used to reading a good portion of the day. So she NEEDS a little bit of a challenge since they don’t read a whole lot in the classroom yet! How can she get that? Why with a note tucked into her lunch, of course! Berry beary bento box optional 😉
Tips, tools and trends:
To get started, figure out what supplies you need. Decide how often you want to send a note and go from there. Sharpie markers or a good pen are good for writing as they don’t smear easily and you probably already have them. I found some shaped paper cutouts in the ‘teacher’ section of back to school at our local store. These are probably what teachers would use to put on the door, wall, or bulletin board with each child’s name, or other important information. Each pack contained anywhere from 24-36 pieces and cost less than a dollar. For about $5 you can get enough to last through the school year! You could also use post-it’s or any other paper you have laying around. Raid your desk drawer. What else are you doing with those political candidate freebie pads or constant bids for money from charities that send you a ‘gift’ of a notepad with their solicitation? Cut off the name and you have a note just the right size for a lunchbox! Keep these supplies near where you pack lunches. Don’t forget something to secure the note with, as well. I have a roll of masking tape that sticks well to the inside of the lunchbox, and won’t damage the box when removed, so I use a tiny piece of that on the top only, so it can be flipped and read on both sides! If you want something a little more special, find note pads themed to your child’s favorite movie/TV/book characters. A craft store or dollar store are also great places to find seasonal papers. Be sure and keep all the supplies together and add new items to your note-writing stash so you don’t lose them in the shuffle and have 20 pumpkin papers left in December. You can save them for the next year, of course, but the more general your seasonal supplies are, the better: snowmen (not Santa), pumpkins (not jack o lanterns), flowers, etc.
Beginning of the year:
During the first few weeks, notes from home could include drawings, pictures, or letters that signify that family is thinking of the child. For early readers or older kids, “I love you” and xoxo are great space fillers for the front of the note, while filling out the back with more specifics where there is more blank space! Encouraging thoughts and reminders about good behavior or bouncing back from a bad day are a good way to get the second half of the day onto a bouncy and happy start!
Add a little noggin food to your lunchbox:
You won’t believe what knowledge you can impart to your child, even if you’re not there. Have they ever heard TGIF? Do they know what it means? How about acronyms? Good concept for kids to ‘get’ at this age! Plus it can help you transition your child from bus to homework as you say ‘how was your note?’ ‘did you know…’ and then lay out that homework folder! If kids stay in learning mode they’re less likely to fight those ABC’s! Not to mention a little scribble saying ‘this is daddy’s favorite veggie that you haven’t tried’… can go a LONG way to an empty lunch box (that actually hits the tummy and not the trashcan!)
If you’re not into making lunch about learning, impart information about their day or just give a little doodle! You can remind your child to ride the bus home, that it’s a holiday the next day, etc. Don’t forget to impart some silliness! In the owl note below, I suggested pumpkin as a pizza topping for our takeaway pizza [which happens to be a school fundraiser]. I wonder if she’ll giggle or frown? Can’t wait to find out!
- Take requests- on the note, and lunch
- Use your child’s favorite colors or themes
- Look up tidbits using a simple Internet search to add to the note if you get stuck
- Find out what you’re child is working on in class and incorporate that into the note if you can
- Keep track of what you’ve done so you’re not repeating yourself
- Holidays, seasons, and special school occasions are good ways to impart variety into your lunchbox notes–and the lunch, too!