Planning the Perfect Picnic for Graduating Seniors

CloseHost a perfect picnic to close a senior high school seniors’ school years with a perfect picnic. Read these ideas to create a wonderful afternoon, full of new memories.

Host a perfect picnic to close a senior class’ school career. Give finality to those thirteen long years a class has spent together. The graduation ceremony holds meaning, but it is formal and stiff. Young high school students want to eat and chat with their friends, as a class, one last time.

A picnic makes for a fun afternoon for soon-to-be high school graduates. It creates an everlasting memory and provides different closure for them than the actual graduation ceremony. Senior classes often have extra funds at the end of their year, which can afford them a fun and relaxing afternoon, which they deserve. Continue reading for steps in hosting a perfect picnic for seniors.

Basic Decisions
Decide on the time and location. A convenient time for the picnic is after graduation practice. Seniors will be together, and they will already be signed out of school. Another option is holding the picnic on the last day of school, or late in the evening, after graduation. These might be problematic, as students may already have commitments. A final option is to host the picnic on the weekend. Again, students may be busy with work or other plans. Pick the time that is best for your situation.

Look at location options specific to your school. The class might spread out a few dozen blankets on the football field or sit in the stands. Some schools do not have an on-site sports area, so the cafeteria or physical education gym may work. Schools may also be willing to provide buses to take students to a local park. If students are no longer “technically” students, they could also find their own transportation.

Determine who will serve the food. The class sponsors may be willing to do it, but if they are teachers and the picnic takes place on a school day, they may be unable to do so. Parents may volunteer, or a group of teachers could rotate.

Announce the senior picnic at senior meetings. Create posters and hang them around the school. Make an information sheet and mail it to students, or deliver them in senior classes.

Invite people who helped the senior class. Send invitations to teachers and administrators. It may be appropriate to invite school board members and non-faculty coaches as well. Think of previous years and extend requests to teachers from elementary school.

Decide the type of food to serve. An old-fashioned, stereotypical picnic includes fried chicken, potato salad, lemonade, and apple pie. Stage a backwards-breakfast picnic and set up waffle makers, omelet skillets, and donut trays. Finish off the breakfast picnic with orange juice and fruit.

Build a sandwich line, with every possible topping imaginable. Buy an assortment of breads, meats and cheeses. Bring different flavors of salad dressings, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. Set up varying vegetables, from pickles and tomatoes to lettuce and spinach. Give the students plenty of options so they can build picturesque, enormous sandwiches. End the picnic with an ice-cream social and again, line a table with every imaginable topping: nuts, chocolate, caramel, fruits and whipped cream.

For classes with extra money and supervisors with little time, order takeout. Is there a rule that a picnic must be barbeque-type food? No, so order a few dozen pizzas and wings. Call in multiple types of Chinese food. This also easily allows for vegan and vegetarian dishes for classes with students on specific diets.

The menu does matter, but the message of a senior picnic stands as that the class spend time together, for perhaps the last fun time.

After eating, students may lounge, or they may want to play. Map out a bags tournament. Set out board games on tables. Bring a checker and chess set and play in gorgeous, outside lighting. Use the school supplies for entertainment as well. Borrow the science lab’s binoculars for bird watching. Set up a volleyball net or bases for a slow-pitch softball game. Finally, bring a camera and document these seniors’ final, childish fun. Post the pictures on a free blog or social networking site.

At the close of their senior year, students are heading off to jobs, colleges and huge responsibilities. Graduation finalizes a bit more of childhood. Make a perfect ending with a perfect picnic.

LanguageArtsClassroomLauralee Moss, a secondary language arts instructor, has taught for over a decade. She has a B.S. in English Education and a M.A. in Teaching and Leadership; visit her blog for more ideas or store for great products.

Earth Day: A Chance for Fun Lessons

In the spring, kids (and adults) are often anxious to get outside when the weather has finally cleared, and are ready for a change of pace.  Earth Day (April 22nd) can be the perfect day to capitalize on that, and do a different, but interdisciplinary lesson that students will remember.

Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking:

Build a Solar Oven from a Pizza Box and make S’mores

Solar ovenA link is included to a video that shows you specific instructions.  There are many other websites and sets of directions as well.  This can easily tie into to science lessons on heat, sun’s path, properties of materials the reflect and absorb heat, measuring temperature, etc.  For Social Studies, it can easily connect to lessons about historical cooking methods, or methods used in other countries that don’t have ready electricity.  English can use lessons on writing and reading procedural directions, descriptive language etc. Math, depends on the level of your students, temperatures, rate of change, angles, calculations of area.  Get everyone on board and make it a school-wide event.

Wonderbag Cooking

On a similar note, cook something with a wonderbag (or maybe compare the two). It is based not on capturing energy from the Sun, but on being highly efficient and storing energy.   Wonderbag is a brand name, but it is actually a very old concept, known as a wonderbox, or wonder oven.

Again, this is science applications at work, and is a great tie in to other subject areas (undeveloped countries, economics, the business model being used, etc).

If you want to make your own, I have done it, there are many tutorials on the web for wonderboxes.  The simplest (which I did), is to take a cooler, and pack it full of old blankets/towels, with your pot in the middle.

It might be a fun experiment to try different insulation materials, and measure the temperature (or test the food).

Plant Bulbs in the School Yard

flower bulbA few years ago my school did a school grounds beautification day.  The students painted rocks to go in the school yard.  We cleaned up and picked up trash, and then they planted bulbs.  Many students had never done this before, and it was a learning experience.  Which way do the bulbs go?  How do they grow?  How many do we need?  How close can they go?  How do we make a straight edge for a border?  Again, measuring, writing, science, agriculture, soil erosion?

We often get so stuck on curriculum and pacing that we miss the opportunity to do something really memorable and useful.  Take advantage of the excuse that Earth Day provides to make it a memorable and educational day for your students, and yourself.


profile pic2Tara, Science in the City: .Science in the City teaches 7-12 science in upstate NY, and is enjoying sharing ideas with you.

To Party or Not to Party: Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

April 23rd is the generally accepted date of birth (and coincidentally, death) of Shakespeare!  This is based off of his baptism date.

Whenever I have taught Shakespeare my students have been intimidated, so why not make it fun and throw a party in his honor?

There ain’t no party like a Shakespeare party ‘cause a Shakespeare party don’t stop.shakesbday
Here are some ideas:

Decorations:Hang posters of Shakespeare’s plays.  Print up famous quotes and hang them as well!  Make the front of the classroom look like a stage with fancy curtains!  The ideas are endless!

Music:Check out this list of 11 Songs inspired by or referencing Shakespeare on Mental Floss!
Here’s another list with even more from SongFact!

Games:Have your students have a battle of wits throwing Shakespearean insults at each other! Here’s a list of insults via Buzzfeed!  Want a lesson plan to follow?  This one from the Stratford Festival is great!  Shakespearean Insult Game directions and insults from Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare insult cat

The Stratford Festival also suggests a great pre-reading game of Tossing Lines to familiarize students with lines from a play and allow them to make inferences about what type of play it is!  Choose from several classic plays:  Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, to name a few!

For more awesome materials from the Stratford Festival go here.

Food: Serve some snacks!  Examine these quotes about food from Shakespeare and challenge students to come up with snacks they can bring in based off of them!  Just hope no one brings in a Titus Andronicus themed pie.

A cake is always a good choice too!

Shakespeare Across the Curriculum:  Shakespeare isn’t JUST for English teachers.  Check out some ideas here, on Folger’s website about how other teachers can get in on the fun too.  When I did an adapted version of Hamlet with my cognitively delayed emotionally disturbed students we had them sew their own costumes in their life-skills class and they created sets in their art class.  It was a lot of fun to incorporate some other teachers into the lesson!

Have you ever celebrated Shakespeare’s birthday before?

TPT ProfileSara Fuller is a 5 year veteran English teacher with an MA in literature who has experience teaching students ranging from the middle school to college level. She blogs about her teaching adventures at Ms. F’s Teaching Adventures and young adult books at YA Lit, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly!