Add Extra Love to Kids' Lunchboxes with These Creative Ideas

Kelle Hampton

A lunchbox love note is a great way to connect with our kids while they're at school, and an especially great way to encourage them on days when they need a little extra love from home. A little "Hope you're having a great day! Love, Mom" note can be scribbled on a napkin and tucked next to the ham sandwich. Or you can pump up the creativity and include one of these unique lunchbox love notes for an extra smile.

Cootie Catchers

If you ever played with a cootie catcher in elementary school, you know how much fun it is to reveal the secret messages and fortunes that hide under paper flaps. Making one is simple -- all you need is a square piece of paper and a few folds. Under each flap, you can add positive messages, funny riddles or made-up fortunes. Your child can enjoy them alone or share them with a friend.

Scratch-off Cards

So your kids might not win any money, but scratching away at the metallic film is half the fun of these lottery ticket-style notes. Write a little lunchtime encouragement on an index card and paint over it with some homemade scratch-off film. Just mix 1 part dish soap with 2 parts metallic acrylic paint. Let dry and add 1 to 2 more layers. Tape a penny to your note and tuck it in the lunchbox. No matter what, they'll feel like a winner.

Scratch-off cards aren't just for lottery tickets!
Kelle Hampton

Word Bubble Photos

You can find blank word bubble stickers at most craft stores. Pair them with a funny message on a family photo, and you'll be sure to make your child smile. This is also a great way to include siblings in lunchbox notes. Print a stack of candid shots and store them with some word bubble stickers in a kitchen junk drawer, and you'll have months of lunchbox love notes ready to go. Have fun with those word bubbles--make them laugh!

Photos are a great way to include little brothers and sisters in school notes.
Kelle Hampton

Secret Agent Notes

Add some Mission Impossible thrill to lunchtime by creating a secret agent note with a top secret message. It can be a clue to a treasure hunt at home or a trivia question they have to figure out. Tuck it in an envelope with a wrap-around closure and write "Top Secret" to make it extra intriguing.

This mission if you choose to accept it...
Kelle Hampton

Tickets to Fun

Ticket jars are a great incentive that many teachers use in their classroom, passing out tickets for good behavior and notable efforts that accumulate for a grand prize. You can implement these at home too -- 100 tickets for a movie with friends or a weekend sleepover. Chores and kind efforts are a great way to earn tickets, but the lunchbox is a great place to hide some surprise ones (and a great incentive for eating those carrots).

Use lunchtime to earn tickets for an ongoing incentive game.
Kelle Hampton

Pictures of "Lovie" Mischief

This a fantastic way to make young children smile while they are transitioning to new schools, starting kindergarten or feeling a little insecure. Tuck a picture of their favorite "lovie" doing something funny and write a note explaining that you caught them getting into mischief while your child was at school. You can take several shots of stuffed animal mischief in one day, get them printed and then use throughout the year.

Nothing cracks up kids like their stuffed animals doing funny things.
Kelle Hampton

About the Author

Kelle Hampton is a writer, photographer and speaker. Her blog post about her daughter's Down syndrome led to the writing of "Bloom," a New York Times bestselling memoir. Hampton has contributed to "Parents," "Parenting," "Martha Stewart’s Whole Living," "Good Housekeeping" and NPR’s "All Things Considered." She shares photography and journals about life and motherhood on her blog Enjoying the Small Things.