Long gone are the days of putting soap in a child’s mouth when they say a bad word. There is a new way to do things these days, so with that, I introduce to you, the Tacky Box. The Tacky Box was created almost on a whim when one mom’s kindergartner came home from school and dropped a bomb–a nasty four letter word! How did she handle it?
Founder Chris Kent Phelps had to think on her toes. First, she had her daughter think about what she said. She told her daughter that she would hear a lot of different words, some good and some bad, and that she had a choice on which ones to use. When her daughter Emma chose to be a good little girl, Chris grabbed a box she had on hand and had Emma write the word down on a piece of paper. Then they placed it in the box, where that word would stay, not to be spoken again.
What amazed Chris Kent Phelps is that her kids took the initiative to start writing other bad or “tacky” words and phrases as well as behaviors, and they began to hold one another and others they know accountable. Through this ripple effect of spreading the kindness amongst each other and their friends, it inspired the Tacky Box family to start their Campaign for Kindness. The goal of this campaign is to spread kindness, making the world a better and cleaner place, one child at a time.
Chris Phelps’ mother Cindy Kent got on board and together, they wrote a story that Cindy illustrated with bright watercolors. They titled the book Margo’s Magnificent Choice, and also came up with a version for boys called Max’s Magnificent Choice. I chose the boy one since I think it’s a better fit with having a girl AND a boy. Even though my son is too young to use the Tacky Box, I was thinking ahead!
As part of the Campaign for Kindness, Tacky Box has partnered with educators to try to bring each kindergartener their very own Tacky Box. By developing it into the curriculum, the Tacky Box team is hoping to see the ripple effect of spreading kindness go further and further than just the classroom. To see more of Chris Kent Phelps’ story, watch the video above!
The instructions say to read the story to your child first, and then at the end, introduce them to their very own Tacky Box. In the story, Max (or Margo) is a handsome and smart little monkey but he is unhappy. Whenever he tries to play with his jungle neighbors, they don’t let him join in on the fun. The problem was that Max learned some unkind words from the parrot, and he was calling his jungle neighbors these insulting words. The old, wise owl shows Max the error of his ways and helps him by telling him to choose his words carefully and to write down all the tacky words and placing them in his Tacky Box. That way, they will be removed from his mind and from his heart forever.
Max follows the owl’s instructions and writes all the tacky words he was using with his neighbors. He goes back to the jungle animals to see if they will let him play. He swaps out the bad words he was using earlier for nice, kind words and sure enough, they all invite Max to play with them. Now Max is the happiest little monkey in the jungle! The very last page talks directly to the reader (child) telling them if they use their own Tacky Box, they will be happy and proud. The story really is the perfect introduction to the Tacky Box!
What I love most about the book has to be the illustrations. It’s not a clean, in-the-lines type of illustration, but rather a hand-drawn and hand-painted look. All of the colors are vivid and bright, and are sure to keep your child’s attention.
Even though Elizabeth is too young to write down the tacky things she does, we discussed bad behavior and words and I wrote them down for her on the provided paper pad. I’m not entirely sure she got the gist of what was going on, but I know in a few months time she will have a better understanding of the concept, hopefully! She also loved the book and kept turning through the pages after we were done reading it. It seems to already be one of her new favorites, fine with me!
In addition to being a great learning tool for distinguishing between kind and unkind words and behaviors, Tacky Box allows your child to unleash their creativity and make their box their own. It arrives as a plain wooden box with the Tacky Box logo and Margo and Max. Your son or daughter will have a blast drawing or painting the box, putting stickers on it, and just making it their own. Keep in mind, this doesn’t come with any art supplies, just a special notepad, so make sure you have your craft supplies ready!