Location: Indoors, Kitchen
What you'll need:
An empty space in the kitchen for food prep and storage
A notepad and pencil
This ongoing activity gives kids their own space in the kitchen and allows them to become active family participants. It also allows them to prepare their own school lunches and snacks which encourages self-reliance.
Don't present this activity as a chore, but rather as an opportunity to grow and help the family. Kids like to feel needed and appreciated.
What to do: Start by designating an accessible part of the kitchen as the "Kids Kitchen Korner." Put non-breakable plates and glasses there and make sure silverware is nearby. Designate a bowl for fruit, snack bars and other items for kids to snack on.
Provide counter space and a notepad where kids can maintain their own grocery list as supplies dwindle. (These lists are often quite charming, especially when kids sound out words such as "joose," "bred" and "cheze").
Kids can have their own corner in the fridge too, where they can easily locate cheese sticks, drinks, yogurt and other refrigerated items without holding the door open for long periods.
Invite them to go to the grocery store to develop their own nutritious lunch and snack ideas. Read labels for calorie counts and preservatives, assess packaging (is it "earth-friendly?) and comparison shop for price value.
Encourage children to make their own lunches and snacks, get their own drinks and then clean up by stacking their dishes or putting them in the dishwasher.
Try to provide encouragement and instruct rather than criticize.
Begin any advice with praise. "Gee you did a great job packing your lunch, but let's put your banana and sandwich on top of your juice so they don't get mashed."
Don't expect kids to strive for perfection, but encourage them to reach for accomplishment. Be consistent and helpful, but don't take over.