A sure way to lure a child outdoors is to use a bait that’s been found to be effective on numerous types of wild creatures. Surprisingly, it doesn’t involve promises of video games, computer time or a trip to the mall. It simply has to do with providing food that’s tasty to their species in a natural setting, a practice also known as going on a picnic.
You can involve children in planning the food and location of the picnic, but don’t underestimate the power of surprise to delight both young and old. You needn’t wait for a warm, summer day or the perfectly packed picnic basket to enjoy outdoor eating with a child. The key here is to pair the already enjoyable activity of eating with natural surroundings.
Because sensory perception is heightened outdoors, even the most ordinary fare will taste better than usual. Boxes of raisins or cut vegetables and fruit with dip all make tasty treats. Finger food is ideal. Regular sandwiches will seem more special with the crusts cut off ahead of time and placed in a separate bag for feeding birds.
Don’t rule out take-out fare. Hamburgers and fries enjoyed outdoors on a park bench still constitute a picnic.
Regardless of what food is eaten, afterwards, what children remember most is the act of picnicking. If the mood is cheerful and upbeat, they will be open to repeating the experience.
Of course once you’re done eating, you might wish to take a little stroll around. Whether you’re in a city park, a forest or your own backyard,enjoy the sounds of nature and explore its wonders together.
This post is the second in a series about getting children outdoors. Next time I’ll provide some suggestions on familiarizing children with their natural surroundings.