July 10th is Teddy Bear Picnic Day. This is an excellent day to get out with your children and create a special memory with them and their real, as well as stuffed, friends. Start with your children’s favorite teddy bears and a picnic basket, add some creativity and go from there. Your kids will love it, and you’ll have fun as well. Be sure to take lots of pictures so you can all remember your special teddy bear picnic. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Invite friends. This is something that your child might like to share with another friend and his or her teddy bear. If someone does not have a teddy bear, open the invitation to stuffed animals of all sorts, or offer to lend the child one of yours.
- Pack teddy bear food. Bring things your kids and bears will both love: peanut butter and honey sandwiches, honey cakes, nuts, berries, and teddy bear shaped crackers come to mind. Be sure to bring a cloth and some spray cleaner, too, just in case the bears are sloppy eaters.
- Read teddy bear stories. Bring Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear and Berenstein Bear books. Recite the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Tell them how Teddy Bears came to be: When President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a small bear on a hunting trip, the Washington Post picked up the story, and a pair of toy store owners wrote to ask the President if they could call their stuffed bears “teddy” bears, after him. The toy quickly became very popular.
- Play the ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ song. This one’s a classic and has been recorded by many artists. It’s easily available for download in MP3 format.
- Have teddy bear games, competitions and activities. Bring small prizes that teddy bears and children can both appreciate. Give a prize to the best dressed bear, the bear with the most unusual name, or for the biggest and smallest bears. Then give a prize to the child who can do the most realistic imitation of a bear, or the funniest. Bring some face paint and paint bear paws on their faces (but not on the teddies!), or bring some clay and let them make little model bears.
- Don’t forget the pictures. Make sure to take a picture of each child with her favorite teddy bear. Bring some craft supplies and help the children make a simple picture frame, that they can decorate with things markers, beads, teddy bear stickers, maybe even leaves, shells, or pebbles from the picnic area. That way they’ll each have a special frame to store their teddy bear picnic picture in.
When it’s time to pack up, remind them that teddy bears get tired early and need to go home and go to sleep. Their job is to look after their tired bears and put them to bed when they get home. Maybe by that time, the children will be ready for a nap too!