the big five

the big five tips to plan the perfect picnic

This week is National Picnic Week and as we have pretty much a whole week of great weather forecast, here are some top tips for enjoying a great picnic 


Picnics are a great way to spend time together, get exercise and enjoy the fresh air and connecting with nature. They also offer lots of opportunities to start to build a picture about your child's wellbeing and to encourage them to think about their emotions - for more information about this then sign up to our wellbeing workshop.


1. keep it simple

Sure, picnics can be 'Grand' affairs with tables and chairs (even candelabras) held in stunning waterside settings, but they can be just as much fun if they are scaled right down and kept simple. 


2. involve everyone in the planning

A picnic can be an event to plan and look forward to. The weather is a key ingredient to enjoyment, but it looks settled for a few days now so it's a great time to plan for one. 

Every person who you may like to invite along can have a part in the organisation the picnic . Children can decide what they would like to eat? It doesn’t have to be loads of fancy food and if the weather is hot, things like chocolate are probably best avoided, but why not make some simple biscuits or different sandwiches with imaginative fillings to take with you. ( Go Wild with the fillings - some can taste really good!).


Adults and older children can plan where to go and what to take. You may like to plan a new destination or maybe to walk from home. Why not do a mystery tour with a map for your children to follow that leads them to your chosen picnic spot? Or you could just picnic in the garden - eating food outside can be just as enjoyable in your own garden.


3. keep it light

If you are heading out for your picnic you don’t want to be lugging lots of heavy or bulky kit with you. Think about back packs and keeping things light and portable. Sandwiches can be wrapped in greaseproof paper or in plastic self seal bags that weigh nothing and can be re-used. 

Freeze bottles of juice or water and then use them to pack around your picnic to keep things cool. As they melt you have the bonus of chilled drinks on your picnic too! Keep plastic tubs and heavier items to a minimum and don’t forget something to collect the rubbish in.


A picnic blanket is great to aid the enjoyment of your picnic, but if you are taking coats or jumpers, wrap them around your waist and you can use these to sit on instead.


4. fun and games

Picnics are fun and eating outside is always a hit, but if you want to extend the enjoyment of the experience then why not think of an activity that you can do while you are there. There are loads of things you can look for while you are out. You could do a nature scavenge hunt or look for different coloured items to form a nature rainbow. There are hundreds of things you can do. See some ideas below:



outdoor games that are easy to play on your picnic

Playing outdoor games not only extends your picnic, but also gives you the chance to get more hands on with nature and the outside. 


sounds and smells

This can be good to do when there is a lot of excitement as a way to calm everyone down before eating perhaps? 

Ask everyone to sit down or just stand still and close their eyes for 1 minute and then see how many things they can list that they have heard or smelled . 

If you want to add more to the experience then remove shoes and socks and stand on the grass ( checking its safe to do so) and feel the softness under your feet. Suggest that everyone concentrates on their breathing for the first 10 seconds, long slow breaths followed by listening ears and smelling noses! 

What do you feel ?( the warmth of the sun, the freshness of the breeze?) What do you hear? ( the sound of the birds, the rustling of the trees?) what do you smell? ( Freshly cut grass, the trees, the scent of a flower?)


stick tracking

Find lots of small sticks and take it in turns to make them into arrow signs for others to follow. You could do this as a form of hide and seek or to find some of the goodies for your picnic!


make a stick story board or stick tv.

Make a frame and collect natural materials to create a picture in the centre that tells a story. You could put faces into your story board, or you could make a story board about your picnic - the things you have enjoyed and perhaps the things that you haven’t enjoyed.

bug hunt

Look for bugs and mini beasts. Carefully lift up pieces of wood that may be laying on the floor or look in shady spots under ferns and leaves for tiny bugs. See how many you can find. If you have a magnifying glass or tiny pot then it can be good to have a look at them close up, before returning them to their homes again of course.


play a memory game

Collect lots of natural items such as different coloured leaves, pine cones a stone, feather - (whatever you can find 15 - 20 items ) and lay them on the ground and cover with a cloth. When everyone is watching remove the cloth for 30 seconds and then cover the items up again.

While everyone has their eyes closed one of the items is removed and then the cloth is removed again. The first person to shout out which item is removed wins that round.


5. pick your spot

Research a new site to visit. Check out for some parks across Central Bedfordshire or for places across Milton Keynes. There are loads of great public spaces to explore and enjoy. Taking a walk to a site gives you the chance to observe nature on the way, and gives your legs a stretch too.


Wherever you decide to go, try to be aware of a few simple guidelines:

  • Avoid spots that dogs may have used for a toilet

  • Avoid areas near rabbit warrens or where animals may have been nesting or burrowing

  • Look out for ants nests on the grass

  • Try to find some shade (particularly if you are going in the middle of the day)

  • Make sure you are allowed to picnic at the place you have chosen

  • Avoid nettles or plants or bushes with thorns or spikes nearby

  • Make sure you leave the site clear of any rubbish - take it all home with you

Most of all - picnics should be fun. A chance to make great memories and to discover new and different places. So this week, during National Picnic Week - why not give it a try?

Image by Kate Hliznitsova

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