Tag Archives: projects

Lunchbox Trivia

16 Jul

We’re at the halfway point in the summer and I swear, when I look at the kids I can practically see their brains starting to turn to mush.  The enthusiasm for my summer reading challenge has waned, interest in math games is lukewarm at best, and they’re onto my efforts to trick them into writing and spelling.  The standard response to the suggestion of any activity is to squint and look me square in the eyes, trying to determine whether there might be any subversive learning lurking behind the activity.

Guess what?  There is.

To combat the mid-summer learning slump, I decided to make up a new game that relies heavily on two facts:

  1. If there is a LAFFY TAFFY JOKE or FORTUNE COOKIE around, a kid will read it.  Even when they don’t quite get the jokes or when the fortune is too confusing, they’ll still read it.  They read it to themselves, share it with me, and run off to show it to another kid.  Every. Single. Time.  So if short bits of information in a sharable way is what they like?  We can do that.
  2. Kids love a scratch-off game.  There’s a tiny thrill in that moment before the reveal.  Very tiny, but still, it’s there.

This week we’re combining both of those facts into scratch-off trivia cards.  Each morning, the kids will choose a trivia card to place in their lunchbox.  At lunchtime, they can scratch the top of the card to reveal the question, then the bottom half to discover the answer.  In order to qualify for a new card the next day, they need to bring the card home to read it to me.  Simple idea and not very hard to make, I think the kids are going to like them.  Even if they don’t find all of the facts interesting or don’t know many of the answers, I can guarantee that they will like scratching off the ticket each day to reveal that day’s questions and answers.

To make your own lunchbox trivia cards, you’ll need:

  • A list of questions and answers
  • Lunchbox Trivia Cards Printable sheet
  • Colored cardstock (cut into 2.25″ x 3.75″ rectangles)
  • Clear packing tape
  • Pen
  • Acrylic metallic paint
  • Dish soap
  • Paintbrush

To start, I made a list of questions that I thought would be age-appropriate, that would interest my kids, or that I thought they should know.  Not every card will hit the mark perfectly, but that’s the beauty of providing info in this way.  Don’t care who invented the cotton gin?  Try again tomorrow!

Once you have a list of questions and answers, print the trivia card sheet and add your own information.  Cut out each card and adhere it to the construction paper rectangles using packing tape.  Most packing tape is just under 2″ wide which will cover the entire surface of the trivia card, with enough room to adhere it onto the colored backing.  Center it if you can and smooth out any wrinkles with your fingernail.

According to Martha Stewart, to create perfect scratch-off paint, mix 2 parts metallic paint with 1 part dish soap.  Not one to argue, I did exactly that and it worked out fine.  Apply the paint mixture over the question and answer on each card.  I applied 2 coats on each one, letting it dry between each layer (about 30-45 minutes drying time with each layer).  I tried both thick and thin layers and found that it didn’t matter much.  You’ll need to keep applying layers or paint until the words are covered, so give each a try and do whatever works best for you.

Print it: Lunchbox Trivia Cards (15 per sheet)

P.S. If you decide to make these cards and find that about halfway through you feel like you are a chump for doing the project and I am a double-chump for suggesting it, try watching an episode of The Vampire Diaries while you complete the project.  It helps, trust me.

It is not yet beginning to look like Christmas

7 Nov

For many years, I have designed and made our own Christmas cards.  Each year, I send out so many that it moves beyond sharing the holiday spirit and into a production facility that could benefit from a few elves.  The first year I sent Christmas cards, I made a BVM linoleum print, stringing the drying cards across the dining room of 32-fiddy.  I was twenty-two at the time, and nothing says “young unmarried woman getting ready for the holidays” like a stylized hand-made print of the blessed virgin.  That was the first and only year that I hand-printed the cards.  Wonder why.

Years later, after I was married and had kids, card content was so much easier.  Like the card from 2005 that featured a guide for the photos, sort of like you might find inside a box of chocolates.

The card from 2006, where the kids appeared inside a snow globe.

In 2007, the card was perforated to include a cookie recipe on one side, pictures of my kids making the same recipe on the other.

In 2008, we were the only family we knew to have our own holiday trading cards.  It didn’t make for very good trades really, but we were ready should the trend catch on.

Then, in 2009 our family went through some changes, separating and moving, and I didn’t know what to do about the card.  For the first time, the card would be for just me and the kids and it made me awfully sad.  Not only would the card be different, but reviewing the holiday mailing list suddenly felt like a long list of mine, yours, and ours.  Heavy with sadness and uncertain about what to do, I made a card and sent them out willy-nilly, mostly sending them to whomever I felt would be glad to get it.  The card was so tricky that year because I was struggling with how to still cherish a past when I felt so sad about its current state and an unknown future.  So, I put little bits of previous Christmas memories into that card, placing Christmas mix CD covers that I had made in the years we were married onto the wall like they were framed art.  To me it meant they had happened, they were important, and I was dedicated to still loving Christmas.

Last year, I came up with my best card idea ever.  Best except that it was the king of labor intensity, and I ran into a whole pile of technical issues.  As a result, only about 10% of my intended mailing list actually received the card.  I like to look at least year like it was a limited edition set.  A very, very, limited edition.

Pine Scented! [see note about labor intensity!]

After all of the cards I’ve made and some reflection on the process, I’ve learned a few things:

  1. Based on the labor intensive nature of designing cards and getting them out the door, a person might want to start them earlier in the year.  That person would not be me though, because I don’t FEEL like doing Christmas things until all of the Thanksgiving stuffing is gone and there is snow on the ground.
  2. It takes me awhile to land on just the right idea and design for that year.  I usually toss around a few ideas, discard those that I can’t make look right or require both a helicopter and a professional photographer (but if I can ever line both of those up, I have the best idea ever).
  3. Even with my best intentions, sometimes the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas gets filled up with other stuff (like shopping, baking, wrapping, trying to decide which is better – Tom & Jerry’s or Egg Nog) and my cards don’t get in the mail ahead of the holiday.  My personal cutoff is my friend Meghan’s birthday, which is in January.  Whatever does not get out before that National Holiday, does not get sent.  After that point, I feel like I have to write a disclaimer on each card and saying “Sorry I suck, and the lateness of this card is no reflection on how I feel about you” which takes away from the loving sentiment on the card in the first place.
  4. I love looking back at the cards we’ve sent over the years; they serve as a marker for what we looked like, what we were doing, what was happening in our lives, and provide proof that we made it through to another year.