Fill the Picnic Basket

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Beth Pinyerd

July provides many celebrations. It is known as Baked Beans Month, Blueberry Month, Grilling Month, Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream month; but my favorite is that July is celebrated as National Picnic Month.

 As a teacher, it seems right after the celebration of July 4 we begin to see “Back to School” sales in the papers, television and stores. I love teaching, but I am on the same page with my students in wanting to savor and enjoy each moment of the cherished golden days of summer. I love the summer sounds of singing morning birds, croaking frogs, the chirping crickets, the soft gentle lapping of waves at the lake or ocean, the splash of skipping pebbles on the surface of the pond, the rustle of the tree leaves in the morning breeze, drifts of clouds mounting up for an afternoon shower and the sweet fragrances of summer flowers. I store these in my memory to reflect back on during a cold winter day.

 A wonderful family togetherness activity in celebrating the “odes to summer” is picnics. The younger and older children both enjoy the planning, the outdoors and the delicious foods of a picnic. Whether there are just two family members or more, take the time with your child to enjoy several picnics before we look toward school beginning again. Picnics are a wonderful outdoor experience of not being rushed, enjoying the fresh air and inexpensively having a planned family meal. It is so neat to dine under the sky as a whole family. This reminds us who the Creator of the universe is, one who made our world and cares for every one of His creations.

 With your infants to toddlers, they can be part of the meal planning process. It’s best to keep the meal simple with tasty foods that both children and adults enjoy. When working and teaching young children, I have them help me plan a field trip picnic. I use this time to develop language arts skills and plan thinking skills. It doesn’t take much time for you to do this with your child. It’s all part of planning. Show the love of Jesus to your child through patience, kindness and understanding. You are making memories for them.

 Picnic baskets, whatever form or size, are not that expensive. Picnic baskets can be made from brown paper bags, vegetable baskets or can be purchased very inexpensively. Ask your child what is needed in the picnic basket. Guide them to respond to the simple necessities of paper plates, cups, plastic utensils, napkins and wipes to clean hands. Let your child count out the necessities that are needed for your family and friends as a math lesson. As you decide what kind of picnic you want – such as bringing sandwiches or grilling out – ask your children what would be appropriate for each type. Would it be hotdogs or hamburgers, or cold cuts? This would be a language arts lesson. As your child verbally tells you his/her wishes, write a list that they can see. Your child can learn many new words this way. Too, have your youngest children to place the items in the basket. Don’t forget the picnic tablecloth or blanket. As a parent, God has chosen you to be their teacher.

 These are some very simple, fun activities that I have enjoyed playing with young children. ”What’s Inside” is a guessing game where a child has to guess the object from its description as it’s hidden in the basket. This emphasizes listening and language skills. Young children love to play guessing games. Too, young children love to help set the table. This covers the math skills of one-to-one correspondence and patterning. “Can You Remember?” is an excellent memory and comprehension exercise. You put a plastic tablecloth in the middle of an area. Put several items under the tablecloth that you would take on a picnic. Let the children see the full group of items. Have the children close their eyes as you remove some of the items. Lift the tablecloth and have the children guess what you have removed. Young children love this game. You can even play this game on a picnic. God created the family. Too, pray together on your picnic, thank God for His world. You may have heard that a family that prays together stays together.

 Be sure to grab a quilt or bedspread for your infant to crawl on; bring the stroller as well. One thing young children love to bring is their favorite stuffed toy, such as a teddy bear. As a teacher, I love to have a Teddy Bear Picnic. Think about this as you plan a fun afternoon for your family. Make it simple. Grab your basket and cooler and meet Classroom Observer author in one of our beautiful Lee County parks. Focus on living today. School will come, but enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of summer. Hey, look at that beautiful sunset. Ecclesiastes 3:1-There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.

Beth Pinyerd has taught young children in the Early Childhood Classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in the Opelika Community and Baldwin County Community. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Child Development both from Auburn University. Her husband is the late Carl Pinyerd and she has one son, Gus Pinyerd who has taught her so much about learning. The Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth and families. Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures and events by e-mailing her at donnapinyerd@charter.net.

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