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Weekly Challenge # 33 – Picnics for #EnviroEd

May 12, 2014

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When was the last time you had a picnic? A true, lay a blanket upon the ground, bring out the potato salad and sandwiches picnic? When was the last time your kids had to put some thought into where to place their cup as the ground was not polished smooth?

What do you think the group dynamics would be like if instead of stereotypical institutional like lunch eating in rows within the classroom you allowed the students to sit beneath a tree with the peers of their choice?

I have a number of children of my own and they include the ones that eat in five minutes to get playing at recess and a youngster who will take a day and a half to eat an apple (missing incisors being only part of the problem). Imagine if lunch was slightly less on the punch clock of the school bell and more of a social piece.

At the Centres I work at, we have a wonderful eight week middle school program entitled STEPS (Students Together Educating Peers in School). In this program students from two or three different schools come out on one day each week to learn about character education and leadership. A very critical portion of each day is based around the group lunch.

Not only is the lunch time a time to debrief the activities that have been done or will be done later in the day – but the preparation of and eating of the lunch is a learning tool in itself.\

One week each student brings a part of the lunch and over the campfire it is all cooked as we tell the story of Stone Soup to discuss how everyone brings something of value to the table.

Another week we make submarine sandwiches and discuss the concept that occasionally they are known as hero sandwiches. As the students make their hero sandwiches we discuss the terms “Hero, Mentor, and Idol” and exactly what each mean to the students.

Some of the best learning – intellectually, socially and emotionally occur during an outdoor lunch and while it may not be possible for every class to have a campfire (which I have discussed earlier as the perfect 21st Century learning tool) – everyone does have the ability to have an outdoor picnic.

So this week, I’d like to challenge you to eat outdoors with your students. Make it a social event but at the same time bring a lesson into it as well and you will be surprised at the outcomes from a well planned excursion. Whether it is a Teddy Bear Picnic with kindergarten students or a sustainable food lesson for high school the potential for sharing is vast.

Hopefully with the nice weather it will become a regular thing! Let me know how it goes!

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