This is an activity we did every couple of weeks at my house, weather permitting, when my children were little – they loved it! Instead of making dinner, I would prepare a picnic and put it in a beautiful picnic basket that still, to this day, is one of my most prized possessions. At dinner time, we would set a picnic blanket outside in our yard and have a picnic as a family. Every week-end in the summer, I would also prepare a picnic, pack a blanket and invite my mom to spend time with us at the park or at the beach, while we enjoyed all of the contents of the picnic basket – from fancy cheeses to fruits to whole baguette loaves and charcuterie. There is something truly magical about a picnic for a child. I remember being 9 years old and packing in the basket of my bike, sandwiches I had prepared, a juice box and a treat, and biking to a nearby park with my friends to enjoy our picnic. Sometimes we each brought our own, sometimes it was a potluck, but there was always sharing involved. I never lost the habit of going for picnics, and even to this day, it is something I do with my family and even as a romantic date.

You don’t have to make it fancy and you don’t have to go very far to make it special. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to do so with your children, even if you just have a balcony – you will see how much fun it is! There are so many different picnics to have, as you can vary the food, vary the guests, vary the settings – you could do this every week and never grow tired of it!

Best Ages for This Activity
Any age! It’s an excuse to spend time outside together, so don’t wait until your child is born. Go while expecting, or even before, and never give up the habit.

How to Prepare

What You Will Need

  • A picnic basket, backpack or a cooler. Here are some of my favourite baskets, some even come with a blanket included:

  • A picnic blanket (or an old tablecloth)
  • Sandwiches and drinks (see below for some ideas)
  • Disinfecting wipes to clean your hands

What to Do

  • Prepare the food for either dinner, brunch or lunch, or even just an afternoon snack. I have selected some ideas, but of course, it can be anything you like! This is more for inspiration that anything else.
  • Invite your child (and family) to go for a picnic in your backyard. To the park, to the beach, to your balcony or deck – the point is to set camp outside somewhere instead of at your dinner table. If you have the choice, choose somewhere where your child can be surrounded by nature. The advantage of doing it in your backyard is that you always have time to do it – you don’t have to prepare much, plan, or bring a diaper bag – you’re home.
  • Set aside about 30 minutes so you can enjoy your time as a family
  • Set your blanket down somewhere under a tree (or wherever you decided to have your picnic).
  • Spend time as a family, conversing, enjoying each-other’s company, and relaxing.

Learning Opportunities

This activity seems simple, but it connects your child with nature, and more importantly, with you as a family. It develops a love for spending time in nature in your child, which in itself has a multitude of health benefits. It also teaches them to be in the moment, an essential social and emotional skill. Being present and in the moment with you teaches your child mindfulness. Plus, if you do any of the activities I suggested after your meals you will get some exercise, which is good for your child’s physical development.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Pack one or two books for each family member so you can read in the sunshine after your picnic. Or read a story (or three) to your child. This will improve your child’s reading and literacy
  • Play badminton with your child, to exercise, which is good for your child’s physical development.
  • Play frisbee with your child
  • Play soccer with your child
  • Play baseball or practice catch and throw with your child
  • Play a tossing game
  • Observe insects in their natural habitat – draw what you see. This will teach our child about nature, and drawing will improve their fine motor skills, good for writing.
  • Do a nature scavenger hunt. [HERE LINK TO MY GAME] This will teach your child about nature, and drawing will improve their fine motor skills, good for writing.
  • Look at the birds and squirrels on the trees (bring a pair of binoculars to make it more fun) – draw what you see. This will teach your child about nature, and drawing will improve their fine motor skills, good for writing.
  • When you get home after your backyard picnic, invite our child to have a teddy bear picnic Either inside or outside. This will be great for dramatic play!
  • You can teach your child the song “Teddy Bear Picnic”. If you play the guitar, even better! Here is a video of it if you don’t know it.
  • Next time invite your child to make sandwiches and put together a picnic for the whole family. This encourages your child to be independent, learn to cook and think of others. It teaches S.T.E.M., especially math, and science, the habit of contribution and fine motor skills, which leads to writing.

Books You Might Like