be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering

be nicer than necessary notes

post contains affiliate links




be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering |

We’re in a mad winter funk over here.

A serious winter funk.

Lots of snow days and delays grey skies and dreary days and indoor recess at school means that there’s been a lot of grumpy, grouchy kids at our house.

And parents.

No matter what we do to mix things up, it seems like we’ve all been doing more arguing and bickering than I care to admit.  And it’s not just the kids–sure, of course, it’s the kids.  But it’s also my husband and me. The dog. The birds and fish.

We’re all a little cranky.

And I’m chalking it up to the winter blues.

So instead of allowing it to totally take over our lives this month, this month of luuuurve and friendship, we decided to focus on being nicer.

Our #livefocused challenge has us focusing on friendship over here, and because being nice is a really big part of friendship, we’re trying to be nicer than necessary this month.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Be Nicer Than Necessary Notes–Lunchbox Love to Help Us Stop Bickering:


be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering |

Because  Maddy, Owen, and Cora all really dug our True Holiday Spirit Notes during Advent this year, I fashioned the Be Nicer than Necessary Notes after them.  The kids liked how these notes were simple and small.

Today, at breakfast, when I introduced the idea to them, I said,

You guys. This past month has been a little crazy over here. There’s been a whole lot more arguing, bickering, and yelling than I care to admit. And it’s not just you.

Daddy and I have been arguing. Brady has been cranky. The birds and fish have been nasty.

We have all been super-cranky, and something has to change.


be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering |


be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering |



We talked about how hard the winter is and how much more time we spend stuck indoors and how hard that can be, but they agreed: something has to change, or we’re all going to go insane.

I said, We’re going to do what Maddy and I read about in the book, Wonder–we’re going to channel our inner Summer (a character from the book) and focus on being nicer than necessary. 

Owen said, Oh Mom, that’s not at all catchy: ‘Nicer than necessary notes’? Can’t you think of something better? 

I explained that the name isn’t as important as what we’d be doing but if he wanted to think of a newer, better, and more catchy name that he totally could.

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering |

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering |


I said that each day, I’ll share a note in their lunchbox and that we’ll talk about what we did–or didn’t do–that night at dinner.

No pressure. Just a quick little reminder each day to be nicer than necessary. To be kinder than expected. To give a little more and to bring a little more sunshine into other people’s days.

Do you want the Be Nicer than Necessary Notes to download and throw in your kids’ lunches this month?

Here they are: nicer than necessary lunchbox notes

be nicer than necessary notes: lunchbox love to help us stop bickering | nicer than necessary lunchbox notes


(Please, if you choose to share–and we hope you do!–consider linking to this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

Really, what I do is print out three sheets of notes (one for each child), and then I cut them as one page then clip them together.

That way, Maddy, Owen, and Cora will each get the same note every single day.

And is it a big deal that there are 25 notes here and 28 days in February? Nope. I figured that between snow days and weekends, we’d do fine with 25 reminders to be nicer than necessary. It’s all good.

It’s not about perfection. It’s about trying to live more intentionally, to be more focused in our every day, to smile more and worry less. Right?  Right.

And that’s it–just one little way we’re trying to move from being the Cranky McCrankerson family to a family that’s oozing with kindness. Or something like that.


Would it work for your family? How do you get your kids, spouse, and self out of the winter rut?
live focused in 2015 friendship sq


I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this month, when our #livefocused theme is friendship, than by sharing this information with you, your kids, students, and families.

I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead!


live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention



fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

positive affirmation notes for kids

post contains affiliate links



positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

Countdown’s on for the new school year, so I’ve been at work making a new set of lunchbox love notes.

In the past, we’ve covered joke notes, we’ve covered puzzle notes, fun fact notes, and travel inspired notes. We did a closer look notesKindergarten notes, and more jokes.

But this time I really wanted to so something that I think might help the kids in a different way as they move into the new year: positive affirmations for kids.

My girls have seen something similar when we made our Awesome Me boxes a while back, but Owen hasn’t.

And really, boys and girls both can stand to have some reminders of how awesome they are.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Positive Affirmation Notes for Kids–Lunchbox Love:

When I hear the words ‘positive affirmations’ I still can’t help but call to mind the old corny Saturday Night Live skits of Stuart Smalley’s I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Nerdy. Silly. And soooooo funny.

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love


But as funny as I found–and still find–Stuart Smalley, I still believe that all that positive talk does help.

It really does.

Claude Steele back in the 1980’s focused on the effects of self-affirmation, and research today, though a bit mixed, votes predominantly in favor of the power of positive self-talk.

All kids can benefit from a little dose of positive self-talk.

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

Especially as my oldest moves from a tween to a teen, I know she needs to hear that she’s awesome.

As my boy moves from a little guy to a tween (oooooh maaaay gosh. . . ), I know he needs to hear that he’s awesome.

And as my baby moves from a little fish to a bigger fish in the elementary school pond, I know she needs to hear that she’s awesome.

And they all need reminders about how to treat people and how to let others treat them.

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love


So I’m  hoping these Positive Affirmation Notes do just that–for each of them.

I printed three copies of each of the sheets, and there are 24 little notes on two sheets and one blank sheet so I can write in my own.

Though with our other notes, I usually give them all the same note on the same day, with these, I will mix it up–give each kiddo a specific note when it seems they need it most.

And it won’t be an everyday thing–I’ll add some of the jokes here and there, the holiday ones, and ones I write in as we go. The last thing I want them to be is annoyed with them. positive affirmation notes for kids: lunchbox love

lunchbox love- positive affirmations for kids _


Here’s the pdf to download and use as you’d like: lunchbox love- positive affirmations for kids _

Feel free to share.

The more kids who get these in their lunch, in their binders, or on their pillows at night, the better. Right?


Want a look at all of our lunchbox looooove notes? Here they are:

Need more awesome Back-to-School lunchy ideas? Definitely check out:

Here’s to a rockstar 2013-2014 school year and many more to come!

fyi: feel free to use the affiliate links below to make your kids’ lunches awesome

school RULES! super-silly lunchbox joke notes

school RULES! super-silly lunchbox joke notes

post contains affiliate links



school rules lunchbox joke notes

It has been such an amazing summer.  I am desperately, terribly, incredibly sad to see it go.

But here we are.  Marching forward.

At my kids’ request, I whipped up another batch of lunchbox love notes.  This time, they’re silly, wacky, crazy, funny, and giggle-inducing.

They’ve asked for more jokes.  So fun.

And since school’s starting in a minute (waahhhh!), what better way to ring in the new school year than by celebrating their good, ole school days with School RULES! Lunchbox Joke Notes?

Right?  Right.

And really, the jokes help to keep things light for this mama who has a hard time with change.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • School RULES! Super-Silly Lunchbox Joke Notes: During our last summertime library trip, we grabbed a boatload of joke books, and I added the ones that were school-related to this 3-pager joke printable.

They’re funny.  I must admit.

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

And because Cora loves the pictures–and can still really benefit from using them to help her decode the text, as an early reader, I tried to add related art for each joke.

Amazing to think that last year’s Wordless Riddles Notes were mostly photos because she couldn’t read as much. Incredible what happens during that Kindergarten year! Our babies learn to read!

There are 24 superstar, hilarious, fabulous notes on these pages.


school RULES lunchbox joke notes

Cut the notes together if you have more than one kiddo. . .

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

then write a little love. . .

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

. . . and fold it so that the answer to the joke is hidden!

To make it easier for cutting (so I’m not spending three hours standing and cutting, standing and cutting), I simply grab three copies of the first sheet and cut those–three pages at once. Then I do the same for the second and third sheets.

I stack them in our cabinet so I can easily grab the first three on the pile, write a quick ‘Maddy, I love you! xoxo love Mom’ on the note–something short and sweet–and toss them in the lunchboxes.

The school RULES lunchbox joke notes are here to download and use for your own kiddos if you so choose. If you would, feel free to share with a buddy so that all kids get a little something silly in their lunch this year!

Print them here: school rules joke lunchbox notes

school rules lunchbox notes  | school rules joke lunchbox notes

I try to put the same note in each child’s lunch so I can make sure there aren’t repeats through the month, though that doesn’t always work.  Just clip them together in a little stack so they’re easy to grab when I’m making lunches two seconds before they leave the house.

I wouldn’t worry if your kiddo isn’t reading yet; you can still add lunchbox love notes and have your child ask the teacher to read it to him or her. I did that when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were teeny, and I really think that it helps kids build confidence, patience, manners, and communication skills.

Though teachers are super-busy, and we all know that, most likely he or she can find 15 seconds to read a silly note to a student.

And that’s it. Just a little something silly to get us moving in the right direction next week when school starts. Keeping it light for a few weeks of change.

Want a look at all of our lunchbox looooove notes? Here they are:

Need more awesome Back-to-School lunchy ideas? Definitely check out:

Here’s to a rockstar 2013-2014 school year and many more to come!

fyi: feel free to use the links below to more joke books if you’d like more silly  jokes in your life

quick, easy father’s day surprise notes: kid-made and dad-approved

fathers day daily surprise cards

fathers day daily surprise cards Father’s Day is here.

Like practically tomorrow.

And with the whirlwind of the end-of-school excitement, Father’s Day often takes a back seat to. . . well, other things.

Not this year.

Even though we’re on the clock, the kids and I made these quick and easy Father’s Day Surprise Notes that I know their dad will adore.

Kid-made–all of their ideas–and totally Dad-approved–all things he will love.

But this is not your typical Father’s Day Ticket Book. We’ve been there and done that. And really? They don’t always work.  The dad in this house, at least, often forgets to use his tickets and then they go to waste.

Not this year.

New version. Guaranteed to work.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Quick, Easy Father’s Day Surprise Notes– Kid-Made and Dad-Approved: So instead of giving Dad all of the tickets at once, we’re keeping the kids in control this time.

We’ll show Dad the Dad Rules envelope on Father’s Day, but then we’re taking it back.

He sees it and then he doesn’t. Like magic.

fathers day surprise tickets

fathers day surprise tickets

The kids (and I, of course!) will surprise their dad every so often with a Father’s Day Surprise Ticket–fun little treats to make Father’s Day last a whole lot longer than one measly day in June.

We simply changed the wording of the tickets, added in a few more surprises, printed them off, and we’re done.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora added a few of their own–there’s a blank page for last-minute ideas–and they added a few before we sealed the envelope.

Fathers Day Surprise Tickets 2013 by teach mama

We added a few fancy stickers on the envelope, and we’re good to go.

fathers day surprise tickets

Father’s Day Surprise Tickets . . .

fathers day surprise tickets

. . . fun for the kids to make,

fathers day surprise tickets

sans glue and crazy craft supplies.

And that’s it–just a quickie little way for the kids to show Dad they care!

All you need for these is imagination and a dad who can roll with the punches, handle a few good surprises, and enjoys a few creative kids!

Happy Father’s Day, dads!!

budgie and parakeet fun fact lunchbox notes: help kids find reliable sources online

budgie lunchbox love notes : helping kids find reliable sources online

budgie lunchbox love notesWe are now the proud owners of two budgies.

Or parakeets.

Or budgerigars.

Two budgies.  Two boys (we hope!).

Right. Apparently, all budgies are parakeets but not all parakeets are budgies.

So we have budgies AND we have parakeets.

And we’re learning as we go.

But what better way of having my O-man–who was home with a cough that lasted forever and ever and ever–get his brain moving than by doing some non-fiction reading about his new birds?

We practiced finding reliable sources online.  We did some reading of non-fiction texts.  And we summarized the information into happy little lunchbox love notes to take us through the end of the year.

So fun. Talk about high-interest reading for my three little budgie owners.

And talk about some cool lunchbox love note facts for any person who’s curious.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Budgie and Parakeet Fun Fact Lunchbox Love Notes:  We’d been talking about getting birds for some time now, but when we stumbled upon the gorgeous cage at a weekend yard sale, I thought it was a good sign that the time was right.

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes

Cora is cleaning the cage. . .

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes

. . . and we discarded old toys and replaced them with new ones!

Not in the least bit logical, I know.

We cleaned. We scrubbed and scrubbed our fancy $20 cage, and then we did some research over the weekend about what was the best kind of bird for kids.  We found our answer and hit the pet store!

Maddy, Owen, Cora and I are learning each day, taking small steps and doing our best to care for our new pets.

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes

Owen researches budgies. . .

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes 2 -

 . . . and together we make our fun fact notes!

Though I had parakeets when I was younger, there’s a bit of a learning curve from pet-ownership as a kid and pet-ownership as a parent.  It’s a lot of re-learning, a lot of Oh yeah. . . that’s right! moments.  Overall, it’s been fun to have birds in our house.

It’s been especially cool watching the kids’ eyes light up each time they learn something new about their birds.

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes

We have to watch our Bradyboy very closely with his new bird-brothers!

So to play on that interest and to teach the kids something along the way, Owen and I created our parakeet budgie fun fact lunchbox notes to take us through the end of the school year.

parakeet lunchbox love notes

parakeet budgie fun fact lunchbox notes

We decided upon a few websites: BudgieKeet, Ranger Rick, Budgie Care, and Budgie Love, as well as our budgie fact sheet from the store.  And we talked about what makes one site more reliable than another. We talk often about this, when we’re researching a topic, but it’s worth revisiting often.

These sites above are all worth looking at because not because they’re all awesome–they are not–but because they do provide a variety of reliability.  Some are clearly more worth your time than others.

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes

We looked for reliable websites which:

  • are created by a valid source, and valid sources are experts in the field or people who have done their research;
  • provide true, real information;
  • focus on sharing information, so they are not covered with tricky ads;
  • are updated frequently so as to stay on top of the latest information.

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes

budgie parakeet lunchbox notes

Owen read passages from the sites we decided were reliable and worth our time.  And then we talked about the information and summarized it into fun facts for our notes. 

We did it together, and along the way, we even discovered something that makes our budgies so very happy: Happy Budgies on YouTube.  No joke they sing like little maniacs when it’s playing. Then Brady starts barking. And the kids start hooting. And it’s loud and crazy, but it’s all good.

Two happy (or really scared?) budgies, three happy kids, and one scared (or happy?) dog.

And one happy mom.

our digital kids

It was just a fun, quick way of rolling out the last few lunchbox love notes on a topic that I know my kids are eager to read.

And? More than a little sneaky digital learning for my O-man and a lot of budgie and parakeet learning for Maddy, Cora, and Owen during lunchtime.  Love it.

Want a look at all of our lunchbox looooove notes? Here they are:

st. patrick’s day fun fact lunchbox notes: and non-fiction reading

st. patricks day fun fact lunchbox notes

fun fact lunchbox love notesIt’s almost St. Patrick’s Day– a holiday that my family loves to ring in with rainbows, scavenger hunts, and lots of silly little- leprechaun fun.

But we also love to ring it in with a new batch of lunchbox love notes.

This time, the St. Patrick’s Day Lunchbox Love Notes were made with the help of my tiniest one: Cora.

She brought home a great little St. Patrick’s Day book from her media center last week, and it was perfect for us to use as the foundation for our newest lunchbox love notes: St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact Love Notes.  Simple, interesting facts about this holiday, many written with the help of Cora.

Talk about some worthwhile non-fiction reading practice with some summarizing practice on the side!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact Lunchbox Notes: Really, these started out with Cora bringing home St. Patrick’s Day, by Mari Schuh.

While Maddy was at gymnastics one afternoon, we read it together, and after every few pages, we stopped to talk about what she read.  We made personal connections–talking about what we like best about St. Patrick’s Day–and we made text-to-text connections, talking about how this book about St. Patrick’s Day was similar to the other books about St. Patrick’s Day we had at home.

st. patricks day fun fact lunchbox notes

This kind of casual connection-making is a great way of bringing non-fiction texts (or any text for that matter!) ‘home’ for kids.

Cora helped me pick out the best pieces from the book that she thought would make great lunchbox love notes–and I know that when she opens up  her lunch to read them, she’ll feel especially cool that she helped to ‘write’ them.

Check out a quick piece about why I love these lunchbox love notes–and lunchbox love notes in general:

st. patricks day fun fact lunchbox notes


st. patricks day fun fact lunchbox notes

Fun Fact Lunchbox Love Notes: some are easier for younger readers than others.

Here are the St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact Lunchox Love Notes for you to download for your little loves’ lunches:

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact Lunchbox Notes: st. patrick’s day fun fact lunchbox notes

And that’s it–just a fun little lunchbox love to ring in this favorite holiday of ours! If we can sneak in a wee bit o’ learning along the way, why wouldn’t we?

Have a fact I should have added? Let me know!

Check out these other great St. Patrick’s Day books to add a wee bit o’ reading for your lads and lassies:


fyi: google affiliate links are used in this post. Thank you for considering using them!

holiday fun fact AND joke lunchbox notes (with hanukkah!)

holiday fun fact and joke lunchbox notes cover

holiday fun fact and joke lunchbox notes coverWe are huge fans of the lunchbox love note over here, so we’ve revisited our ole faves and added a few new ones to the mix.

Maddy, Owen, and Cora love the Holiday Fun Facts and Holiday Joke Notes, so I did a little research, played with some images, and created a few notes for my tinies.

Fun facts have expanded to add Hanukkah facts! (Yay! It’s about time, right?)

Joke notes have gotten sillier! Even more funny!

And the fonts are large and clear so Cora has a better chance of reading them.  Because goodness knows that if she can’t read it, she’ll holler across the lunchroom to Owen and have him read it for her. . .

Without further ado, here’s the skinny. . .

  • Holiday Fun Fact and Joke Lunchbox Notes: Really, I scoured the ‘net for sillier jokes and funnier punchlines.

I searched for information about Hanukkah and images to accompany them.

And honestly? I’m pretty pleased with the results.

holiday joke notes & fun facts

Owen’s fave so far? Iceburger joke. . .

holiday joke notes & fun facts

. . .and I wonder if anyone will get the answer to this one!

I know I’ve done well when I hear the kids talking about the jokes after school–and Owen must have told and re-told the ‘What do snowmen eat for lunch’ joke a hundred times yesterday afternoon.


I included a page of eight jokes and a second page of eight fun facts: four about Hanukkah and four about Christmas.

holiday joke notes & fun facts

note in the lunch and ready to roll!

In combination with Little Holiday Notes and Lunchbox Jokes –knock-knocks and riddles from last year–and Holiday Fun Fact Notes–fun facts about Christmas around the world–we should get though the month of December, no problem!

I’d be thrilled if you used them! The more laughing kiddos at lunch, the better!

The jokes are here to download if you’d like: Holiday Fun Fact and Joke Lunchbox Notes.   And feel free to give ’em a pin, a tweet, or a share on Facebook.

I usually print them out on cardstock, but this time I didn’t have any on hand. I just  used paper, and it was fine.  Just enough room for a little ‘xoxo love Mom’ and we’re good to go.

Happy lunchtime learning!


Want a few more holiday-inspired learning ideas? Check out: 

Ooooh, baby! It’s been quite a week.

With all the holiday fun going on, we’ve had a bit of a stress with the ole bloggy-blog, but it appears (knock wood) that things are level now. Many thanks for your patience if you hit the site and found a ‘404 error’ or something of the like.  Stuff happens, right?

notes for mom (or dad) — because we ALL need them

notes for mom (or dad)

notes for mom (or dad) -- because we ALL need themEver have one of those days when you need a serious pat on the back? A hug? A gold star?

Ever wish that at the end of the day that you’d get a high-five from anyone for being a half-decent parent?

Ever feel like you climbed Mt. Everest because you didn’t want to yell scream or cry when the third bowl of cereal tumbled to the ground before 9am?

Ever feel like a superstar because you singlehandedly squelched a tantrum before it began because YES!! you justsohappened to have an extra pacifier in  your diaper bag, pack of stickers in your purse, or a granola bar in the glove compartment?

Ever just need someone–anyone–to tell you ‘thanks’?

Me too.

So this round of lunchbox love notes aren’t for the lunchboxes.

They’re for the dashboard, the stroller, the bathroom mirror.  Wherever we need ’em.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Notes for Mom (or Dad)–Because We ALL Need ‘Em:

notes for mom (or dad)

Dashboard’s dirty and dusty; note is barely hanging on–but I’ll take it.

And because it’s time.

I’ve kept a ‘Good Job’ note from waaaaay back when on the dashboard of my van for years.  Years.

And before that, a cheap-o doctor’s office sticker stayed on the inside compartment of my double stroller and reminded me ‘You Can Do It!”– whether I was pregnant and hoofin’ it up a hill or trying to keep my tired self sane and smiling.


notes for mom (or dad)

Because some days, I need a reminder.

notes for mom (or dad)

I love this girl–Maddy’s best, most beautiful girl–on this note. Because we both got it.

Some days, we need help.  And some days, we need reminders that we’re doing our best, even if our best feels small and insignificantand totally not what we wish it were.

And some days, it doesn’t matter if it’s a cheesy, ugly sticker. Or a ripped and torn post-it note.

Some days, we just need a lift.

So I whipped up some notes for mom (or dad–or anyone!) because we ALL need them.  I know I need them mostly every day of the year.

Here are the Notes for Mom (or Dad) to download and print if you so choose.  Enjoy!

Notes for Mom (or Dad) You Got This

I’ve printed, cut, and hid these little notes around–some for the kids to see–and some just for me.  I think it’s good for Maddy, Owen, and Cora to see me struggling some days, to see me taking deep breaths to calm down or to talk myself down from a total freakout: You know what? I’m totally losing patience, so I’m heading upstairs for a 5 minute break. I’ll be back when I feel a little more relaxed.

I think it’s good for them to hear me giving myself a positive self-talk–not necessarily as clean or cheesy as our old Stuart Smalley from SNL but more like the subtle reminders that we are doing our best, that we rock, and that we can do this.  Sometimes, I just belt out, Mama said there’d be days like this–there’d be days like this–my mama said. . .

Though lately my struggles are moving from less physical—no more diaper changes, no more strollers or sweaty Baby Bjorns—they’re more emotional.  And sometimes it feels like the emotional stresses of child-rearing are more exhausting than I could have imagined.

We all need a little push some days.  Or a smile. Or a nod. Or a reminder that this sometimes difficult and challenging time is fleeting. Or that breathing really helps.  Or that we are superstars and our kids love us even if we feel like there’s no way they could.

What do you do to remind yourself to breathe during difficult times, to stop and appreciate all that you have or that you really can make it through tough days? Let me know in the comments!

Hidden Pictures: lunchbox notes

hidden pictures lunchbox notes

hidden pictures lunchbox notes

Halloween is over, so our joke notes are pushed to the wayside.

Our wordless riddles are taking a break, and the troops are ready for some serious lunchtime fun before the holidays hit.

When I asked Maddy, Owen, and Cora what they were up for as far as their next lunchbox notes are concerned, I got a lot of:

  • games!
  • candy! (huh?)
  • some fun quizzes!
  • put a pencil in the bag!
  • hidden pictures!
  • YES! notes where we find hidden things!
  • oh YEAH! like in Highlights and High Five!

Lucky for us, I had just spent a great deal of time with my friends over at Highlights and High Five this month, so I got the ‘go-ahead’ to create just that–Hidden Pictures® Lunchbox Notes for my three favorite people in the whole wide world.

These lunchbox love notes totally rock the house.

They make me–and the kids–really, really happy.

Here’s the skinny . . .

  • Hidden Pictures– Lunchbox Notes: I think, for us, our Hidden Pictures® Lunchbox Notes takes the lunchtime love to a whole new level.

hidden pictures lunchbox notes

These lunchbox love notes stemmed from my kids’ love of . . . Hidden Pictures®!

These guys are simple but fun. And yes, I’m a sucker for a good ole lunchbox note, so maybe I’m a bit biased.

But I think taking something my kids enjoy and turning it into a little lunchtime hug is . . . well, satisfying.  Maybe it gives them a tiny bit of quiet time they have to themselves as they unpack their food.   Maybe it’s a conversation starter with a pal at the lunch table.

Maybe it’s ignored or thrown to the bottom of the bag.

hidden pictures lunchbox notes

From the magazine. . .

hidden pictures lunchbox notes

. . . to the lunchbox. Love it.

But I feel better just knowing it’s there.  Just in case Maddy, Owen, or Cora is having a tough day and they need a reminder that they’re loved and that their mama’s thinking about them.hidden pictures lunchbox notes

So Hidden Pictures® Lunchbox Notes it was–and is–for my kiddos for the next few weeks.

Love. Them.

And knowing that Cora’s working on mastering some tough Kindergarten sight words, I tried to use the same few phrases on each card:

  • Look for the . . .
  • Can you see the. . .
  • Find the. . .

Though she might not be able to read the words that identify the objects she needs to find, I did put the word in bold so that if she couldn’t read the word, she could at least search the picture for a hidden object and then go back to the word to try to figure it out.

And I also know that Owen’s in her lunch period and he usually sits across the aisle from her, so he can always read it if need be.  And knowing the two of them, he very well may read them to her every other day.

I created three pages of notes with 5-6 messages on each page.  Each note has a wee bit of space on the side so I could write a short little message.

Here’s the document if you care to download them for your own little ones’ lunchboxes: hidden pictures lunchbox notes

hidden pictures: lunchbox notes for kids |

hidden pictures lunchbox notes

And that’s it–just a quick little note for lunchboxes–or any time.  Maybe they’d even work thrown in your purse or diaperbag for those unplanned waits in the car pickup line, doctor’s office, or grocery store checkout.

Either way, Happy hidden picture-hunting!


fyi: Huge and happy thanks to my friends at Highlights for permission to use pieces of their Hidden Pictures® puzzles in our lunchbox love notes.  These puzzles actually came from a Hidden Pictures® Magazine–the entire thing filled with the pictures we love!

If you want the real-deal Hidden Pictures® (which I’m sure you do!) be sure to visit the Highlights website, where you can grab your favorite kiddo a subscription to the Highlights Magazine, High Five Magazine, or any of their other fab, just-for-kids periodicals, including the Hidden Pictures® ones!


Want a look at all of our lunchbox looooove notes? Here they are:

wordless riddles: silly lunchbox notes

wordless riddles: silly lunchbox notes

wordless riddles: silly lunchbox notesWhen I asked Maddy, Owen, and Cora what they liked best for their lunchbox notes, I got three different answers.

From Maddy: I want more jokes–not joke, jokes like knock-knocks but more like the riddle jokes. Like the ones that are kind of like a story and you guess what they’re talking about. Like the riddle ones.

From Owen: I like the ones with problems–like math problems.  Or yeah, okay the joke ones.  Or fact ones.

From Cora: I want just like the regular notes, like ‘Have a good day, Cora’ or ‘I love you Cora’ on them. Like just like that. The regular ones.

So I gathered from Cora’s response that she wanted ones she could read–ones with only a few words–and I gathered from Maddy and Owen’s responses that they were up for more of an interactive laugh or challenge, so I thought for a bit.

And then I thought some more.

And I tried to think of something that would fit Maddy, Owen, and Cora while at the same time, try to help Cora feel ‘at home’ in her new school.

So I came up with something new for us–something that so far, the kids–and my husband–really, really love.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Wordless Riddles— Silly Lunchbox Notes: That’s what they are–wordless riddles.

They’re a combination of an ‘I Spy’ game and ‘A Closer Look’, and they really love them.

wordless lunchbox riddles

 Our finished sheet of Wordless Riddle Lunchbox Notes

All I did was create a simple template with two phrases:

Take a closer look!    and

What am I?

I wanted to use two repeated phrases that Cora could learn with ease and that included a few sight words.

wordless riddle lunchbox notes

Can YOU tell what this object is?

 wordless riddle lunchbox notes

Or maybe this one’s a bit easier?

And then I went around the house, taking super close-up pictures of items familiar to the kids: Brady’s nose, the Wii steering remote, the garage door buttons, door handles, the milk carton, homework stool, you name it.

On each note, I embedded one close-up photo, and we were ready to roll.  I printed three copies of the document on cardstock–six photos each for a total of 18 notes!–cut ’em out, and that’s it!


wordless riddle lunchbox notes

Cora’s lunch: Day 2 — Wordless Riddle ready to go!

The first day I added them to lunchboxes (day two of school!), we chatted on the way home about the day, their friends, recess, and–of course–lunch. 

No one could figure out the picture, so we talked through it as we walked, and together they got it! With Maddy’s idea and Owen’s idea and Cora’s idea, it all came together. It was awesome. It was a super ice-breaker and a great way to move into natural conversation about the day.

The following day, Owen ran out of the building and the very first thing he said to me was Brady’s nose!! It was Brady’s nose!

It took a minute, but then it hit me–he figured it out, and he was psyched. Yay!

A Closer Look Lunchbox Notes : wordless riddle notes (ours)

And that’s it–just a quickie way to show my sweets that I’m thinking of them throughout the day and to (shhhhh!) sneak in a little bit o’ learning and thinking along the way. I have already taken photos for Wordless Riddle Lunchbox Notes, 2.0 — it’s been so crazy fun.

Do you want to try your hand at Wordless Riddle Lunchbox Notes? Feel free to download our own Wordless Riddle Lunchbox Notes (with our photos) or download the Wordless Riddle Lunchbox Notes Blank Version and create your own–either by adding your own photos to the word doc or by cutting photos and gluing them on! Either way–super fun!

Please, please PUH-lease let me know if you try this and how it works! And I’d LOVE to see yours–feel free to share your own photos on our Facebook page ( Many thanks and happy lunchbox noting!

our super-special Kindergarten lunchbox love notes

kindergarten love note necklace

special kindergarten lunchbox love noteOne of my first, most distinct happy, happy memories was when I was six years old.

I was eating my very first lunch out of my very first lunchbox, in my first-ever time in the cafeteria, on my very first day of first grade.

And I don’t remember much from that lunch aside from the fact that the most beautiful, most amazing, most fancy and  most special hair comb that I had ever seen in my life was in my very own lunchbox. 

I remember feeling nervous and excited and worried.  I pulled it out of my lunchbox.  The comb was a translucent pink, and hanging from it were three or four incredibly delicate, soft, small feathers.  And there were beads–white and pink beads.  They all hung from a pinkish leather string, all attached to the comb.

I loved it.

I remember reading the simple card from my mom–I think it was an index card–that said something simple, nothing that I remember verbatim but something that conveyed to me that my mom was thinking of me–and that she loved me very much.

I’ll never forget it.

I had the comb for years and years and years and years and every time I saw it, I thought of that day–that day when I felt so grown up and proud, yet so small and sad, at the same time.

Perhaps that’s why I’m all lunchbox-note crazy, but I just know for a fact that the way that note and that very simple gift made me feel I wanted to share with others–especially my own little loves.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Our Super-Special Kindergarten Lunchbox Love Notes: So yes, I’ve always done my best to send Maddy, Owen, and Cora off to school with some sort of lunchbox love note, but when each of the kids headed off to the wild world of Kindergarten, I sent them with a little something extra special.


kindergarten love note necklace

For Maddy, it was a fancy ribbon barrette.  

I’m sure I was thinking of the one my mom gave me.

For Owen, it was a small license plate with his name on it.

He loves seeing his name on things.

For Cora, it was a simple necklace on a long pink chain.  She isn’t always up for things in her hair–but jewelry?  She’ll take it just about any day.


kindergarten love note necklace


And really, along with a very simple, easy-to-read happy first day note, that’s what I put in my new Kindergartner’s lunchboxes.

It’s not about giving the kids gifts–it’s about a little surprise to celebrate this big and exciting step.  And to let them know I’m thinking of them.

That’s it–just a little, under the radar tradition for our family–our super-special Kindergarten lunchbox love notes–started by my most amazing, totally incredible, always thoughtful, and absolutely fabulous mom.

Here’s to hoping I can do a half as good of a job raising Maddy, Owen, and Cora as my mama did my sisters and me.