As I take walks near parks and through neighborhoods I am reminded of having a picnic. There is something magical about picnicS. They feel and look different for every family. As I walk by the backyards, parks, wooden picnic tables and grassy hills I see many variations of having a picnic. This is a fun way to explore the outdoors and enjoy eating with nature. It changes the energy and the mood within all of us. We can look at flowers, maybe see some ants, listen to birds, hear fire trucks and be mindful of sounds around us. You can find space on big rocks, the front steps, a grassy hill, a table in a park or your yard. You can make this a simple snack time or dinner time meal.
Here are a few ideas to get you started for your picnic:
☆Hummus ☆Carrot sticks ☆Cucumbers ☆Cheese ☆Apples ☆Bread & butter ☆Muffins ☆Roll-ups ☆Waffles ☆Watermelon ☆Sandwiches Toys to bring:
♡Favorite stuffed animals ♡Balls ♡Books ♡Bubbles ♡Music ♡Markers and notebook Things to do:
□ Set up your stuffed animals on blanket like you would if friends were with you □ Look around in the grass and pick flowers □ Look for four leaf clovers □ Practice listening skills □ Do some yoga poses □ Roll a ball or play game with it □ Read some books together □ Play Simon Says □ Play follow the leader or copy what I do □ Create a rhythm (clap hand, tap knees) follow beat Having a picnic is a nice change of pace. Talk about what to bring for food before your outing. If the children can help get things ready, have them pack it into a bag. Brainstorm a few spots that will work for your family and venture out.
HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICES Goal 1: Children develop healthy eating habits and knowledge of good nutrition. Try new foods Eat a variety of nutritious foods and communicate that some foods and beverages are good for them (e.g., milk, fruit, vegetables) and some are not (e.g., soda, snack chips) Choose to eat foods that are better for the body than others, with assistance LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD – SOCIAL STUDIES: FAMILY AND COMMUNITY – PHYSICS, GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY Goal 1: Children identify themselves initially as belonging to a family, a group and a community; eventually they develop awareness of themselves as members of increasingly wider circles of society and learn the skills needed to be a contributing member of society. PHYSICAL AND CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Goal 1: Children construct concepts about the physical characteristics and locations of familiar to more distant places, and the impacts of people on the environment. They also construct concepts about their own cultural identity and learn to appreciate others’ cultures.
“STORY OF FLOWERS”
BREATHTAKING BOTANICAL ANIMATIONS
THE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING TO BE GENTLE
When children have opportunities to interact with wildlife, a whole new world of wonder can open up. There is so much information out there that shows children who are supported in their love for animals tend to generalize that love to other living things. This includes plants and animals! When children are encouraged to care for animals, they tend to be more sensitive and caring toward other people as well. By providing children with the opportunity to observe and care for wildlife, you are helping nurture those feelings of connection and empathy of ALL living things.
One form of wildlife widely and easily accessible to us is bugs/insects. There are also several learning moments when exploring bugs. As we all know, children are not aware of their power. This means that often children simply don’t expect to kill insects when they step on them, and children can be quite upset to learn that the bug has died. This is a great moment to educate children on how their bodies impact others around them. You can bring in the language of “gentle” or “careful” to encourage the appropriate touch or lack of when exploring little tiny bugs.
As we do with all other life situations it is important for you to allow children to observe and share their discoveries. Encourage their questions and conversations. By giving your child a moment to explore wildlife, they are learning the importance of the world around them. It takes the focus off from themselves, even if just for a moment. Drawing your child into the moment and being present with them when finding bugs, is a great opportunity for shared learning within families.
If you are afraid of bugs or wildlife yourself, it is important to provide these opportunities for your child to become comfortable with exploring their surroundings. You can encourage them from afar and still be a part of their learning.
Exploring bugs/insects requires nothing more than curiosity and willingness to engage and observe. Further investigation can include magnifiers to introduce perspective and change. You can provide paper and a drawing medium to represent observations.
Here are some pictures of children exploring bugs at BCS over the years!
“I find an ant, I be so gentle” – 3 year old
2 year old exploring the feeling on an ant on the hands.
“I be so gentle.” – 3 1/2 year old
1 year old observing a beetle from the window screen.
Dead bugs are also great for observing, drawing and talking about life cycle!
For older children, bugs and insects are a great opportunity for observation and further scientific exploration. You can provide materials for your child to draw, write or ask questions. Although it is sad to find a dead butterfly, it is such a great learning moment. Teaching life cycles to children is a way to introduce children to the concepts of birth and death, which I am sure will bring lots of questions!
So next time you are out and about, whether on a walk or just hanging in your yard, take the opportunity to slow down and look around to see what kind of bugs or other wildlife you might see!
Vermont Early Learning Standards (VELS):
LIFE SCIENCES – Goal 1: Children construct concepts about the characteristics of living organisms, their biology and ecosystems through exploration and investigations.
Explore the characteristics of living things
Interact with plants and animals