This year, Seesaw committed to having a full season – an event every academic quarter – for the first time. In the fall, we hosted the First Annual Inclusive Theatre Festival, this spring we’re doing our mainstage show, Under the Big Top!, and this winter we had a special day for individuals with developmental differences and their families – Project Lunchbox!

While our work mainly focuses on individuals with developmental differences, Project Lunchbox emerged from a family-centered perspective. We hoped to create an opportunity for families to bond with a day out and a chance to play together. By structuring a day to involve the whole family, Project Lunchbox tied together a desire to connect neurotypical siblings with each other, allow parents to network a little, and let the whole family form deeper connections through activities they could all participate in.

 We were delighted to spend the day with four wonderful families; with the focus of Project Lunchbox being to involve families with neurotypical and neurodivergent kiddos, our age range was nineteen months to thirteen years old!

We started the day with a song, where we got to learn everyone’s names and what we’d all brought to our picnic, and played a game to get our imagination going, with everyone thinking of all the things a pipe cleaner could be – a mustache, a wand, a halo… After our intro, neurotypical siblings went to hang out in one room for some crafting time while their parents and sibling crafted in another. In either room we chatted, made paper bag puppets, and got to know each other a little better.

Next we came back together for a very important part of our day – lunch! We had an indoor picnic, with each family receiving a picnic blanket with their name on it to take home.

It wouldn’t be Seesaw without some sensory fun, so for dessert we went on a sensory adventure.

Over the course of a few weeks, Maddie, our Head Adventure Guide for Under the Big Top! and some teaching artist friends devised a sensory show much like what we put together for our spring shows, but with an emphasis on the whole family being able to participate. Each of our teaching artists created a world around something that makes them think of their family.

Rachel started the day for us the way her family likes to wake up. None of the paper bag puppets were very interested in getting up, so we eased into the day with some “nuggling.” After everyone got some snuggles in, it was time to get up and stretch – leading us into Rebecca’s world, cooking in the kitchen with her family. In the kitchen, we smelled some spices and flavorings, and each family stirred up a big pot of something together.

From Rebecca’s world we headed into Emily’s world. Emily took us to play “outside” where we all created the sounds of a rainstorm that died down into a rainbow. We spent some time playing under the rainbow with a parachute and found a pot of gold. Since we were already outside, Marley took us up into the sky as it turned to night and we played in the stars. We decorated paper stars, made “star bugs,” played with some fun fabrics, and did a little more “nuggling.”

When we finally came back down to Earth, we ended the day by talking about things we were grateful for and singing a goodbye song.

Seesaw had a wonderful time with all of the families that came to play with us. In the future, we’re hoping to keep working on projects that involve the whole family – so stay tuned! But in the meantime, thank you to the families that participated in Project Lunchbox. We had so much fun, and we hope you did too.