What is the “I’M GOING ON A PICNIC” Game?

Posted by Brainspring on 9th Jul 2024

The game is called “I’m Going on a Picnic…” This game is a phonological awareness exercise. It makes students think about the patterns they hear in words. This game can be used as a phonological awareness practice, or it can also be used for higher-level skills and applied to mathematics.

You begin by saying, "I'm going on a picnic and I’m bringing ________.”

Next, each student gets a turn to respond by saying, “Can I come to the picnic? I’ll bring ________.”

The student's goal is to determine the rule or pattern you use to decide who can attend the picnic. If the student's response fits the rule, you say, “Sure, you can come and bring _____.” If their response doesn't fit the rule, you say, “I’m sorry. We don’t need _________.”

Educational Benefits

  • Phonological awareness - players must listen for the skill or rule that fits the game.
  • Memory skills - remembering what items were said to recognize the pattern.
  • Vocabulary - learning new words and their meanings.
  • Strategic thinking - players must choose items they think fit the pattern.

“I’m Going on a Picnic” Game Example

Teacher: I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing marshmallows.

Student 1: Can I come on the picnic? I’ll bring graham crackers.

Teacher: I’m sorry. We don’t need graham crackers.

Student 2: Can I come on the picnic? I’ll bring sandwiches.

Teacher: I’m sorry. We don’t need sandwiches.

Student 3: Can I come on the picnic? I’ll bring matches.

Teacher: Sure you can come and bring matches.

Student 4: Can I come on the picnic? I’ll bring a melon.

Teacher: Sure you can come and bring a melon.

As you may have figured out, in this case the rule was items beginning with the sound /m/. Let every student have a chance before asking if anyone figured out what the rule was.

Scaffolding suggestion: Create a list on the board for students to visualize words that do not fit the rule. After responding, “I’m sorry we don’t need __________,” write the student response on the board. You can further scaffold the game by providing a list of words that do fit the rule.

Here is a more difficult rule that I used with my students. Since this was a one-on-one tutoring session, we went back and forth until she guessed the rule.

Teacher: I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing hotdogs.

Student: Can I come on the picnic? I’ll bring buns.

Teacher: I’m sorry we don’t need buns. I’m also bringing mustard.

Student: Can I come? I’ll bring ketchup.

Teacher: Sure you can come and bring ketchup. I’ll bring brownies.

Student: Can I bring juice?

Teacher: I’m sorry we don’t need juice. I’ll bring Kool-Aid.

Student: Can I bring napkins?

Teacher: Sure we can use napkins.

Since this was our first time playing, I made the game a little easier by offering another item I was bringing that followed the rule after each of her guesses. The rule was that the words needed to have two syllables. The harder way to play would be to have the student keep guessing items on their own.

I love that this game requires students to think about patterns and problem solve! It is a perfect game to fill those small minutes of time. Think of playing this while students are standing in line, when there are only a few minutes before lunch or the end of the day, as a way to refocus after recess, on the bus for a field trip, while waiting for an assembly to start, ect. 

Rule Ideas

    Here is a quick list of some of the rules you can use for this game, arranged roughly in order of difficulty. This game can easily be played with older students, just make the rules more sophisticated.

    • Item must start with the same letter as the student’s name (ex. Mary can bring marshmallows, but Tony can’t. Tony can bring tacos though)
    • Item must begin or end with a certain sound
    • Item must be a rhyming word
    • Item must have a certain number of syllables
    • Item must follow the Double f,l,s,z rule
    • Item must be a singular or plural noun
    • Item must be a certain color
    • Item must be a school supply, something you wear, something that grows from the ground, ect.
    • Item must be a homophone
    • Item must have an R-controlled vowel


    As I was thinking about this game and different rules I could use to play it, I realized this would be fantastic for math as well. Use this for math by playing with numbers instead of items. I would try calling it something that relates to numbers like “I’m Going to the Store…”

    Follow the same procedure but fill in the blanks with numbers instead of words (i.e.; “I’m going shopping and I’m bringing 42.”

    Here are some rules you could use for the math version:

    • Numbers must be odd or even
    • Numbers must be divisible by a certain number
    • Numbers must be multiples of a certain number
    • Numbers must be prime numbers
    • Numbers must be greater or less than the number said previously
    • Numbers must fall within a certain range
    • Numbers must contain a certain digit in a certain place (ex. a 3 in the ones’ place, an 8 in the hundreds’ place)

Written by Brainspring

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