A summer time picnic, as fun as it is, also usually involves a lot of prep work and a fair amount of scrambling to make sure you have everything you need: barbecue tongs, napkins, forks, knives, spoons, salt, pepper…the list goes on and on. And more often than not, even with all of the preparation, something is usually forgotten.
This year, why not get ahead of the game, and give your child a chance to help out with the picnic preparations, while getting creatively "green" with some recycled materials while she's at it. Here's a patriotic picnic caddy that your child can make for the whole family to use this holiday, and enjoy for many summer days to come!
What You Need:
- 3 clean, empty 15-ounce tin cans (such as those for tomato sauce)
- 1 empty cardboard cereal box (an 18 oz. cereal box works best)
- 2 pieces of corrugated cardboard, cut to approximately 9"x6" (size may vary slightly depending on the size of your cereal box)
- 2 rolls of “contact” vinyl paper in red, white, and blue (you can use solid blue plus red and white stripes)
- Shiny silver stickers (stars or other various shapes if you prefer)
- Glue gun
- Glue stick
What You Do:
- To make your caddy “base,” help your child begin by laying your 9"x6" cardboard pieces on top of one another. Have your child use the glue stick to tack them together so they don’t slide. Together, both pieces of cardboard should make a solid, sturdy surface about ½” thick.
- Working together, you and your child will measure and cut a piece of contact paper 11"x14"—enough to cover the top of the cardboard base with extra to wrap around the edges securely. Once you've measured and cut your piece of contact paper, have your child stick it on and wrap it around the edges.
- Now pull out your three tin cans, and again measure and cut some more blue contact paper. This time, you’ll cut a flat rectangle to wrap around each can, big enough to completely cover the surface of the can (excluding the top and bottom). Help your child wrap it around the outside of the can. (Note: Your child can use red or white contact paper on the cans if she prefers, or she can make each can a different color: red, white and blue!)
- Once the tin cans are wrapped, your child can decorate the outside of the cans with the silver stickers she has picked out (Note: your cans should have the tops removed so that they can be used like cups).
- Use the ruler to measure 5” down from the top (the side that opens and closes) of your cereal box and make a line at that 5" mark that goes all the way around the outside of the box, making a 5" thick band at the top.
- Cut along the line, all the way around the box so that the cereal box is now shorter and has one end completely open with the other end (the bottom) completely closed.
- Use your red contact paper to wrap and cover the open-topped box on all sides, even on the inside! The contact paper helps to reinforce the edges of the cereal box while also adding a decorative touch. You and your child can do this part together.
- After you've completely covered the box, your child can decorate the outside with stripes of white contact paper for a patriotic theme. But this is just a suggestion: she can decorate the cereal box however she likes, adding blue stripes or white stars or silver stickers.
- To put it all together, line up the cereal box along the long edge of the blue cardboard base, and then place the three wrapped tin cans in a row on the base beside the box. Glue all of the elements to the base with the glue gun.
- When you’re done, you’ll have a handy Fourth of July picnic caddy for spoons, knives, forks and napkins. Toting your supplies will be simpler; and for your elementary math student, this practice with measurement and geometrical thinking should make those subjects a little bit easier along the way!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.