It’s a great big world out there, so why limit kids’ summer activities to the ho-hum, been-there-done-that of seasons past? This year, invite them to explore beyond their borders with an around-the-world picnic featuring the cultures of other countries. Kids will have a blast trying new foods and games — and they may learn a thing or two without even realizing it.
One of the best ways to learn about a new place is through its cuisine. Begin by choosing several countries to highlight and explore their traditional menus. Keep in mind ways to modify the recipes for your kids’ taste, as well as the dish’s packability. Opt for finger foods and things that can be assembled on-site.
Here are some ideas:
- Greece’s traditional horiatiki (rustic salad) has simple ingredients — cucumber, tomato, olives, and feta cheese — that kids can choose from to create their own dish, which is then finished off with a drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar and a dash of oregano.
- In India, the word “tikka” means small pieces, and chicken tikka is an easy-to-cook dish that can be served on skewers with fruit.
- For a hands-on activity featuring one of Asia’s well-known foods, set up a kid-friendly sushi bar where they can roll their favorite sandwich ingredients into flattened white bread.
- A trip around the world isn’t complete without pasta from ltaly, and kids will love creating their own pasta salad with noodles and a variety of chopped vegetables.
- Alfajores is a traditional cookie that is much-loved in Latin cultures. Make a batch ahead of time and pack in a sturdy plastic container.
Leave the frisbees and baseballs at home and instead opt for some of these cultural activities:
- Kubb is a Scandinavian game that involves tossing a wooden rod with the goal of knocking over your opponent’s row of wooden blocks.
- Believed to have been invented in Australia, egg-and-spoon races are fun for all ages. Players race to the finish line while — you guessed it — keeping an egg balanced on a spoon.
- Kite flying is a common activity at picnics in Mediterranean nations such as Spain, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Croatia, Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon.
- The national game of Israel, matkot is a paddleball-style beach tennis game that inspired pickleball in the United States.
- Nearly every nation on earth plays soccer, perhaps because all you need is a ball, something to represent the goals, and two teams of willing participants.
Print different countries’ flags on heavy cardstock and use them to identify your picnic’s meal options, or invite kids to decorate paper tablecloths with flags and other symbols — such as the country’s food, people, and landmarks. The activity will encourage them to think about not only the differences between cultures, but perhaps more important, the similarities as well.