Article written by Pat Jones (, Extension Educator in Brown, Keya Paha and Rock Counties.

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Let's do a progressive picnic at the park! Progressive picnic? At the park? With kids? What is a progressive picnic? This is a type of scavenger hunt to enjoy your picnic meal. It is also a great way to get to know parks in the area while being active outdoors.

Items needed:

  • Progressive Picnic SuppliesSmall cards or pieces of paper for numbers
  • Pictures of locations you might find in a park (such as a picture of a slide, pond, monkey bars, etc.) - if you prefer, you can use words instead of pictures
  • Two re-sealable plastic bags
  • Food for your picnic
  • Five paper bags to put food in for your picnic, labeled 1-5
  • Hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to keep hands clean as you move around the park
  • A cooler with ice, gel packs or frozen juice boxes to keep food cold and safe – a wagon or cooler with wheels may be helpful to haul items around the park

Start by:

  • Progressive Picnic FoodDecide what food or drinks will be included in your picnic. Ideas include sandwiches, cut-up fruits and vegetables, cheese sticks or fun drinks (fruit flavored water, 100% fruit juice, low-fat milk). Try to include items from each of the five Choose MyPlate food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy).
  • Place one serving of each food or drink in the paper bags for each person who will be attending the picnic. For example, if three people were attending the picnic, put three oranges in one of the paper bags.
  • In one of the re-sealable bags, place the pictures of the locations in the park.
  • In the other re-sealable bag, put the cards numbered 1-5.

At the park:

  • Have one person draw a park picture or word out of the re-sealable bag. This is your first destination. When you arrive at that destination, draw a number out of the other re-sealable bag.
  • Select the paper bag that matches the number. This is the first food of your picnic.
  • After eating the contents of that paper bag, spend some time playing at that location.
  • Make sure to dispose of wrappings, peelings, etc., before moving on to a new location.
  • Repeat selecting the location and then selecting the number of the paper bag with your next food item until all five locations/foods have been selected and eaten.
  • The final stop could be a special treat at home or on the way home, such as a frozen fruit pop, or fruit smoothie. Check out for recipe ideas. Make the anticipation of going home just as much fun.

This can be done as part of a road trip to make the trip go faster for kids. Progressive picnics are amazing fun!