We are very lucky at Free Rangers to be blessed with a cycle track in very close proximity that’s rich in bramble bushes full of large juicy blackberries. The children in the Burrow have had the chance to pick their own, and sample the trials and tribulations of foraging for these black jewels.
Valarie our Food Resource Manager at Free Rangers mentioned about a blackberry jelly she intended to make in the kitchen, so we jumped at the chance to take our little fruit pickers along the cycle track to see what we could find. When we have snack in the Burrow, the children receive fruit in front of them on the table. How did this fruit get to them? Where did it come from? By allowing the children to be a part of the production of their food (our nursery garden is key to this also), it begins to teach them about the journey their food goes through to get it to their plates. The first task was to let 10 bouncing toddlers know what sort of adventure we were about to take, of course as soon as we mentioned it there was a rush of putting wellies on and getting our collection pots.
Once we were all ready I opened the gates to different setting to that of the nursery, however it didn’t look like any blackberries would be growing in the car park, so we all ventured into the farm where some were located. These weren’t immediately highlighted to the children, to see if they could spot any themselves. One little girl ran over to the first blackberry bush we discovered excitedly exclaiming: “I found a blackberry!” She understood straight away what we were looking for and showed she had understood what our adventure was all about. It was clear the discovery had made her happy and picked one straight away, however this blackberry didn’t manage to reach the cups it went straight into her mouth! Before all the children started picking the berries, we first had to explain some important rules about foraging. Could we pick green or red blackberries? We let the children know that only black berries were to be picked, as the green and red would be very yucky in our tummies! The children noticed the blackberries had sharp thorns and stinging nettles growing around them. A few of the older children knew the stinging nettles and brambles would hurt them, so they learnt to identify what they looked like so they could avoid harm. When we venture out of the nursery we always explain to the children about all the hazardous plants that we might encounter, for example Lords and Ladies.
When the children started to get stuck into picking the berries, they didn’t stop! We spent 45minutes along the cycle track picking all the blackberries we could reach. Spending this amount of time outside gave the children lots of exercise and fresh air, running back and forth from bush to bush without them even getting out of breath!
During our blackberry picking, there was lots of talk between the children. The main topic was children telling others that they can’t put green or red blackberries in their mouths. Many of these children put these back into the bush. Other conversations were about picking blackberries at home, it was nice to see the children are able to do this activity at nursery but it is a lot more satisfying knowing that this happens at home. The sharing was also great to see between the children, passing around the pots so we all have a hold without adults having to suggest it. We then spoke about how nutritious the blackberries are, especially because they are organic, full of vitamin C giving the children’s immune systems a good boost and containing plenty of fibre to help with their digestion. When we returned back to nursery, a child took the blackberries up to the kitchen ready to be included into our jelly!
All the children had a fantastic time whilst picking the berries and we eagerly look forward to our next outdoor adventure!
Thanks for reading!