Pack a special lunch with your child called a Bento Box! Make it a math lunch by counting together while arranging lunch foods in fun new ways.
What is a Bento Box?
A Bento Box is a single-portion meal common in Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese cultures. In Bento Boxes, food is purposefully placed and can be arranged in countless ways. Bento Boxes can be simple or elaborate. More elaborate arrangements can even look like people, animals, monuments and plants.
Start with a plate or tray on which to arrange the food. Next, choose lunch foods that are small but numerous, such as baby carrots, goldfish crackers, apple slices or pretzel sticks, to create the Bento Box.
Building the Bento Box
With your child, pick something you would both like to create using the small pieces of food. The object or design should use at least 10 pieces of food. You can choose any object! It could be your child's favorite TV character, a firetruck, a flower, etc. Your child can also start with a simple design, like placing the items around the plate. Snap a picture of the Bento Box you make!
As you place the food together, count each quantity out loud together. When you have completed the Bento Box, ask your child how many of each item they used. For example, you can ask "How many goldfish did you use to make the woman's hair? Let's count together!" To add a challenge, use more items of food to count to higher numbers.
This activity is part of our Number Sense and Counting workshop, which helps parents and caregivers playfully build children's ability to count.