Summer Time Fun: 10 Great Ideas to Beat the Heat and Connect with your Kids, #7

The series continues….(I didn’t forget) Read to the bottom for Picnic Play date Invite at Mommy Manders’ house!

Indoor Picnic at the “Park”! 

Schedule a picnic play date in your playroom, or just make your everyday PBJ lunch a little more exciting and memorable. (My memory of summer lunches as a kid is eating ramen noodles and watching “Gomer Pyle” with my brother, but I do think fondly of those days, hearing the summer cicadas buzzing in the backyard.) Let the kids help steak out a nice spot in the house (under  the “shade” of a coat rack “tree” or “in the sun” by the window.) Let them help prepare and pack up the lunch in a basket, gathering up a blanket and supplies, or just use play food. You can walk to your destination, or ride in the “wagon” (use a laundry basket with a belt tied through the handle for easier pulling – makes a great train or taxi, too.) Start your pretend journey to the “park”.  Use this simple song to get you going and singing. It makes for a fun picnic game, and the question-answer section encourages kids to match pitch in a non-threatening way using the most natural interval for kids to hear and sing – sol-mi, or a descending major 3rd. Even babies can hum along if you give them a chance to “answer”. I first heard MJ match pitch to this song when he was only 8 months old, humming with the pacifier in his mouth (what a proud music-teacher-mommy moment for me!)

“We’re going on a picnic, We’re going on a picnic,

We’re going on a picnic, a picnic at the park.”

We’re packing up our basket…

We’re putting on our sunscreen…

We’re putting on our bug spray…

Who has the apple? (I have the apple.)

Who has the water? (Jennifer has the water.)

We’re packing up our basket..

watch the video to learn the song

After you enjoy your picnic, you might want to ride the slide . see-saw, or swings. These are “pretend play” activities we include in Kindermusik class for kids of all ages, and they provide lots of laughs, connections with parents, and brain connections, as well.  For the slide, use your body, going up and down with kiddo on your knees, use hands and arms, or just tickle up and down. For babies, this is great language development, focusing on these concepts of “up and down” because it connects language with the kinesthetic experience. With children, any time you an involve more than one sense in teaching, it makes the brain connection stronger.  For toddlers, it’s great vocal play, as they slide their voices up and down with the song. For preschoolers on up, it’s fun symbolic play, and they will enjoy discovering new ways to “make it happen.” Extend the musical learning, and show them how to “climb” up the scale and glissando down, playing along on the piano or xylophone.

watch the video to learn the song

The see-saw is another up-down experience. I lie down on my back, bending my legs, and put kiddo for a ride on my ankles, facing me, lifting them up and down. I’m sure you can come up with some more fun ways, and get some exercise, too! “See-saw, up and down, Ellie goes up…Ellie goes down.”

Make your own swing with a blanket or large towel. You’ll need 2 adults for this activity, one to hold each end. Put one child at a time in the blanket, seated or lying down, and swing! They will enjoy the feeling of being “swaddled” tightly, the experience of on-off balance, and looking up at your face. Use the sign for “swing” with baby: simply wave your arm side to side in front of your body, hand closed. Before she could talk, Ellie who loves to swing, used to ask for it specifically by signing. When swinging my kids inside or outside, I always include the following “I love you ritual”. It is a song my Auntie Ann used to sing to me when she pushed me on the tire swing under the old oak trees at my Gammy’s house…watch the video and learn the song

“Swing, swing, swing, swing, Up in the sky so blue. 

Swing, swing, swing, swing, God loves you.”

(I also like to sing “Mommy” loves you.)

Extend the pretend play. Lie down together, and do some “cloud-watching”, imagining cloud shapes that you see in the sky. (Read Little Cloud by Eric Carle to inspire you.) Then, take it a step further, and pretend that you get caught in a rainstorm. Make some rain sounds with your bodies, or pots and pans, flashing the lights on and off, and singing “Rain, Rain, Go Away” and “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring“. You know those!

My favorite “park” book is Let’s Play by Gyo Fujikawa. My copy was actually given to me by my dear Gammy in 1980 when I turned 2, and has a little birthday message written on the inside cover to me. How special to get to share it with my own kids now, singing these songs as we read through. It has wonderful illustrations, as all his books do. You can still find them in print. Have fun at the park, and let me know…what are some of your favorite “park” books? 

You’re invited! Picnic Play Date at Mommy Manders’ House. Friday, July 8th. 4:30-6:30. Bring some food to share, and we can play inside and outside. I’ll have some water play set up out in our shady backyard. Call me for my Dallas address, 214-402-6746. Pass this post on to a friend.


  1. mommymanders says:

    Sorry the videos weren’t working at first -they should be now! As you can tell by my camera-work, I’m at the low end of the technology learning curve, but quickly improving with this blog. Thanks for your patience!