School Lunch Ideas

Mr. 7 starts school tomorrow!  2nd grade!  I can’t believe how quickly time flies!  His kindergarten was half day, so last year was the first year he started bringing lunches. It was definitely a learning process.  They get so little time to eat, and they get so easily distracted by having all their friends around. Plus, Mr. 7 isn’t the most adventurous eater, so we had limited choices.  Instead of giving you a whole ton of recipes to try, I’m just going to write a list of tips.

1. Make things bite size so kids can just pop them in their mouth really quick.  My favorite bite-size lunch item is “sushi”- flatten a piece of bread, spread stuff on it, like peanut butter or cream cheese as a base, then fruit or veggies, then roll up the bread and slice your roll into bite size “sushi” rolls.  Mr. 7 thinks these are so fun.  He likes his sushi to have cream cheese and grated carrots.

2.  Pack drinks with straws. It’s faster to drink from them.

3.  Make sure your kiddo can open everything easily.  If he can’t, he’s likely to spend a lot of time asking his friends to help, and then eventually ask a grown-up, and then lunch time will be over.

4.  Choose things that work double-duty. Veggies or fruits that can be dipped in a protein like hummus or peanut butter, protein bars that taste like a treat, etc.

5. Don’t stress!  You can only do so much, and in the end it’s up to your kiddo to eat as much as he thinks he needs. He’s not going to starve.  And if he ends up hungry, hopefully he’ll remember to eat more the next time.

And now, you’re daily dose of lunch ideas, 75% of which are cute to look at, but you’ll probably never make.

A Whole Lot of Lunch Ideas

Chapter Books for Lower Elementary Kiddos- Part 1

After enjoying reading “Matilda” by Roald Dahl with Mr. 7, I started thinking about all the other books I’d love to read with him or have him read.  These books are great for kids who are at least 7 with great reading skills (and probably some help along the way) all the way up to 12 or so, when they’re able to read it all on their own.  If you’re looking to read aloud to a child without them helping, most of these books would be good for 5-7 crowd as well.

For this portion, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite authors who have many, many books to read.

Books by Roald Dahl:

There are so many great books by Roald Dahl, and I think they’re great for younger kids because they deal with issues kids can relate to, but the specifics of the stories are so ridiculous that kids know they’re fantasy and enjoy delving into that silly, fun world.  I recommend Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG to get you started. I’ve heard great things about The Witches but haven’t read it yet.

Books by Judy Blume:

Judy Blume is an author your child can really grow with. She has great books for younger kids, then books that focus on puberty-age, teenage, and even some adult novels.  My favorite books of hers for the younger kids are the “Fudge” books. This is a series, but can be read as stand alone books or even out of order if needed.  They are (in order): Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania, and Double Fudge.  These books focus on Peter, who starts as a 9 year old and ends as a 12 year old, and his mischievous younger brother, Farley Drexel (aka Fudge), who starts as a toddler and ends in lower elementary school.  There are lots of “What’s Fudge going to do next???” moments, and readers can really relate to Peter, who is just trying to live his normal life without having his pet turtle get eaten (yes, it happens) and other horrific things.  The books are super funny and I haven’t met a kid who hasn’t enjoyed them.

Books by Beverly Cleary:

Nearly everyone has read books by Beverly Cleary.  Honestly, I haven’t read all of them.  Not even close.  But that won’t stop me from recommending some of the ones I have read and enjoyed.  My very favorite Beverly Cleary book is The Mouse and the Motorcycle; it’s fun, and it’s a great read aloud book because of Ralph (the mouse) who has a squeaky mouse voice and also a little attitude. 🙂  There’s two other Ralph books, Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse that are also fun, but not necessary to enjoy the first book. The other two famous series are about Henry Huggins (which is the name of the first of his books) and Beezus and Ramona (the first of their books).  These three characters all live in the same time and town and interact with eachother here and there, especially in the early books.  The stories started in the 1950s, so there is going to be a lot of things that are quite dated and may not make total sense to your kids until they’re explained, but that won’t stop them from enjoying the stories.  If you’re working with a child who’s slightly older, perhaps 8-9 or older, I highly recommend Dear Mr. Henshaw, a wonderful book about a kid writing letters back and forth with his favorite author, and through them, working through his parents’ divorce and problems at school. It’s perhaps the “unknown teasure” of Beverly Cleary’s books, as it often gets overlooked for her more famous series.

That’s all for now, but don’t worry!  I have sooooo many other books I want to tell you about!  I’m thinking that next time, I’ll talk about stand alone books. 🙂

Books for Lower Elementary Kids- Part 2

In Part 1, I listed a few of my very favorite authors and recommended books for each of them.  This time, I want to mention a few of my favorite stand alone books (which may or may not have other related books or other great books by that author). As a reminder, these are recommended for 7-12 year olds. For the younger ones, you may want to read them aloud together, while the older kids can read them independently (and if the younger ones can and want to read them alone, that’s great too!) Let’s get started!  If you aren’t familiar with these books, you may want to read them first to make sure you feel they are appropriate for your kiddo.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

Omri gets a cupboard for his birthday, and his great-grandmother’s key fits in it just right.  After locking a toy Indian in it, Omri discovers that the key has magical powers!  The toy comes to life, revealing his name and a whole life that he has been pulled away from.  This book is full of imagination and fun and is sure to get kids looking at their toys in a whole new way!

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

This is a sad, but beautiful story that nearly everyone has read.  And those who haven’t, should.  A young girl named Fern saves a piglet from being killed for being the runt of his litter.  She names him Wilbur and cares for him.  But Wilbur is still in danger of being eaten one day, like most pigs are.  A kind spider named Charlotte befriends Wilbur and hopes to save him by weaving messages about how wonderful Wilbur is in her web.  This causes quite a stir, and Wilbur becomes a star.  But will it be enough? And what happens to Charlotte?

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

As a child, I was captivated by this unique story, which is based on the true story of Juana Maria, a Native American girl who was left alone on an island for 18 years.  In the story, Karana’s tribe lives on an island together until the tribe is threatened and leaves by boat… except for Karana, who gets accidentally left behind.  On the island, year after year, she must learn to survive and thrive on her own.  This is a book about survival and learning about who you are and what you’re capable of.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

This is a book for kids who want something completely different.  It’s silly, goofy, outrageous, and just plain weird!  I was a big fan of this book as a kid. It’s about a school that was supposed to be built with 30 classrooms side by side, but was instead built with 30 classrooms going up 30 floors!  And the strangeness only begins there.  The chapters are short and fun, filled with hilarious characters and clever ideas.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I read this with Mr. 7 this past summer.  We took turns reading chapters to each other, and he loved every bit of it!  It isn’t a short book (which is part of the reason why we read it together), but it is filled with fun!  It’s about a very, very smart  and kind little girl named Matilda whose family is not as smart and not nearly as kind.  When she goes to school, her teacher is wonderful, but her principal is horrible!  Matilda finds creative ways to get back at the grown-ups who don’t treat her well, and meets some lovely new friends along the way.  The story is super funny, and there are a lot of “oh my goodness!  She’s actually going to do that???” moments. Roald Dahl is a British author, so be prepared to explain what a telly, mummy, knicker and other common British words mean.


I know lots of other great books for this age range, so I’m sure you’ll get another of these posts soon!  This should get you and your kiddos started until then. 🙂  Enjoy!




A Summary of my Summer (See what I did there? :P)

It’s been waaaay too long since I last updated this blog.  I’m so sorry. My personal life has been very busy, and I honestly have had so many things going on that “blogging” didn’t make my list of things to do.  I’m sure you understand.  

This summer has been beautiful!  Mostly mild temperatures and lots of gorgeous blue-skied days!  I’ve spent a lot of my time outside, soaking it all in. It’s been a great summer!

In my personal life, I’ve started lots of new things!  I started running again after taking an extended break because of joint problems.  I bought a sewing machine!  I’ve been enjoying learning to use it and making lots of different kinds of fun bags. I’ve also learned how to do hand embroidery, so I’m hoping to use that to embellish things that I sew. And I started beading again after taking a long break due to burn-out.  I think I’ll even start teaching beading classes again! I’ve taken about a year off after teaching for about 5 years straight. Drew and I have also moved to a different apartment and bought a washing machine. So yeah.  A lot has been going on.

I’ve been quite busy at work, too. Mr. 7yo had some half-day summer camps early in the summer, then decided he didn’t want to do anymore. Miss 4 hasn’t had any camps and will be starting preschool again tomorrow. So I’ve been working with both kiddos most of the summer, which has been fun, but sometimes challenging.  Mr. 7 really loves playing with his sister and with younger kids, so he’s done well when I’ve scheduled playdates with Miss 4’s friends.  It also helps that Mr. 7 is really good at making new friends!  Because it’s been such a beautiful summer, we’ve gone to a lot of parks. I’ve even discovered some new ones that are super fun!  Ironically, we haven’t been to any splash pads.  All of our pretty days have been too cool for water play. In the mornings, the temp would be 65-70F and end up 75-80F by lunch time when we would need to leave.  The kids would be shivering in the water!  So we’ve been staying dry and warm. 

My favorite part of the summer has been reading with Mr. 7.  He is going into 2nd grade in about a week and reads really well, but is a reluctant reader.  I’m not sure if he simply isn’t confident in his abilities, or if he’s just intimidated by bigger books, but he doesn’t seem to want to read much.  I’m trying to help him to find his inner book worm. I know he likes books, because I used to read to him all the time when he was younger, and he loved it.  So this summer I came up with an idea. I went to the library and found “Matilda” by Roald Dahl (who was one of my favorite authors as a kid).  I told Mr. 7 about the book and let him know that after he read it, we could watch the movie together (which neither of us had seen).  That didn’t perk his interest, so I read the first chapter to him to see if he’d be hooked.  He was interested, but still intimidated by the length.  So I suggested that we take turns reading chapters to each other, and he went for it!  This was ideal, actually, because I could be there to help him with words he didn’t know or understand, and I could model reading out loud with expression for him.  It took several weeks, but we read the whole book together, and it was honestly my favorite part of the day.  He LOVED the story, and I loved seeing his face light up as he said things like “Oh my! I know what she’s going to do! Oh no! This is going to be good!”.  And the movie was really fun too!  After, we talked about the similarities and differences between the book and movie.  I’m hoping we can have time to continue this during the school year, but I’m doubtful.  Last year, we didn’t get to do much together after he got home from school. I let him have a little down time, then he’d do homework and chores. Then it was dinner time and after that, I headed home.  But we’ll see.  

That’s enough of a summery summary for now!  I hope yours was as fun and eventful as mine!