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Outdoor Tea (or Cocoa) Party

When tea becomes ritual, it takes place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. - Muriel Barbery

In honor of National Hot Cocoa Day on December 13th, we are sharing this sweet and simple way to add a sweet, cozy tea or hot cocoa party break into a family walk or hike. The ritual of sharing a warming drink together helps to create a moment of quiet and warmth to overcome the chill and heighten your enjoyment of time outside together. This is why, during this winter's problem solving season, we'll end each of our Tinkergarten classes with Tea Time!

Read on for tips on how to include a sweet tea (or cocoa) break into your outdoor routine this winter.

This activity is featured in our December calendar. If you do not yet have your free copy, get it here.

The Guide

Plan a walk. 

Plan an outdoor adventure that makes sense for your group, given weather, distance and the ages of kids involved. Get ideas here.

Brew some tea or cocoa. 

Brew a thermos full of decaffeinated herbal tea or a warm beverage of your choice (e.g. hot cocoa, apple cider). If you have access to herbs in your outdoor space, head out with a collection container and forage for tea-making ingredients together. Foraging for cooking ingredients is a super way to help kids learn how to identify plants and herbs and connect with the flora that grows in your area. Use an app like PlantNet or PictureThis to help identify the plants as you forage. Use a mortar and pestle (or hands) to mash up the leaves, then place in a tea infuser and steep in warm water. If you do not have a tea infuser, strain the liquid after steeping to remove leaves. Some of our favorite ingredients for making tea include:
  • Lavender
  • Lemon verbena
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Chamomile
  • Jasmine
  • Rosemary
  • White pine

Pack a bag. 

Grab your thermos or insulated water bottle full of tea, some cups, snacks and even a blanket or two.

Head outside. 

Head out on your walk and activate different senses along the way. Take deep sniffs to smell the cool air. Feel the air on your cheeks. Look with your eyes and notice how your outdoor space has changed with the changing season. Stop and listen to what movement (and stillness!) you can hear. 

Have a tea or cocoa party! 

When your hike is almost done, stop to enjoy a special treat—an outdoor tea/cocoa break! To get extra cozy, wrap a blanket around each person—or snuggle up and wrap one blanket around all of you. Pour tea and nibble treats. Notice how the warm cup feels against your hands. If it is cold outside, notice the steam that rises from your cup. Take a moment to appreciate how the liquid warms the body from the inside out and how good it tastes after a good outdoor walk. 

Why is this activity great for kids?

The addition of warm tea or cocoa into a hike on chilly day activates the sense of touch, taste and temperature—a huge sensory system win! Additionally, introducing something new and unique into an activity you do somewhat regularly heightens the investment and excitement for everyone involved. Plus, giving kids tools they can use to stay warm in colder weather is a super way to help extend outdoor time while also helping kids develop persistence and grit.
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