Grab your pails and baskets – berry season is here. There will be plenty of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries – ripe for the picking! You can eat them fresh from the vine, bush, shrub, or tree. Enjoy the bounty of seasonal berries/cherries as you conjure up memories of carefree summer days. Some “berry” special activities for your group are suggested below.
- BERRY TYPES: Show photos of common edible berries/cherries and ask the group to identify each one. List words that describe the taste of berries (examples: sweet, tart, mouthwatering, juicy). Share fun facts about berries and how and where they grow. Ask: Did you ever grow berries or cherries in your backyard? What kind? How easy or difficult was it? Did your family have a favorite place to pick berries? What is your favorite kind of berry? What other summer fruits do you like to eat?
- TASTING: Talk about ways to eat berries – fresh, frozen, canned, dried. Name some popular berry desserts and briefly tell how to make them (examples: pie, muffins, compote, cobbler, shortcake, torte, jubilee, crisp, tart, buckle). Describe your favorite berry recipe. (Use some vintage cookbooks to enhance the discussion.)
- FOOD: Hold a “Jam” Session: Taste several kinds of berry jam on homemade biscuits. Serve with berry-flavored tea. Listen to songs such as the following: “Here We Go ’Round the Mulberry Bush,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “On Blueberry Hill,” “Cherry Ripe,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “Blueberry Pie,” “It Looks Like Rain in Cherry Blossom Lane.”
- CRAFT: Weave yarn, ribbon, or fabric into plastic berry baskets and use the baskets for storage. Or, make an apron, placemat, or potholder using fabric with strawberry designs. Fill a felt-stitched strawberry with potpourri. Enjoy fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate.
- SENSORY: Invite the ladies in your group to use berry-flavored lip gloss, berry-scented hand lotion, or a shade of berry nail polish. Wear a scarf with berry hues. Assemble a bouquet of berry-colored roses, the flower of the month. Smell a bowl of fully ripened berries.
- FOOD: Make fruit smoothies using fresh berries. Talk about the health benefits of eating berries. Introduce the group to new super-food berries such as goji berry and acai. Learn about the medicinal uses of berries.
- FOOD IN THE WILD: Invite a Boy Scout leader to talk about foraging for edible plants, wild berries, nuts, and seeds in nature. What precautions must be taken? Ask participants how they feel about picking food in the wild.
- REMINISCING: Ask participants to share memories of any of the following activities they may have done with their parents or grandparents: picking wild berries, making fresh berry and cherry pies, canning preserves and jams, making homemade ice cream, eating cranberries at Thanksgiving dinner, growing a berry patch.
- CHERRIES: Listen to Rudy Vallee’s version of the song “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.” Talk about the message of the song and why it became a popular Depression-era tune. Read excerpts from humorist Erma Bombeck’s book If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?
- QUIZ: Ask the group what they know about the following: Chuck Berry, strawberry birth mark, cherry tomatoes, Strawberry Shortcake doll, Cherry Cola, Halle Berry, maraschino cherry, strawberry blonde, Huckleberry Finn, BlackBerry device, cherry picker, George Washington and the cherry tree, Berry Gordy, Jr.
- BLUEBERRIES: Read and discuss Robert Frost’s poem “Blueberries.” Ask if anyone has ever grown a bumper crop of blueberries and found some ‘as big as the end of your thumb.’ Find out why the blueberry is blue. Munch on blueberry muffins. Read aloud the children’s book Blueberries for Sal. Reminisce about blueberry-picking as a family.
- FATHER’S DAY: Celebrate a “Berry” Happy Father’s Day by holding an ice cream and pie social featuring berry-flavored ice cream and fruit pies. Song of the day: “Ice Cream (I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream)”
- CHILDREN: Recite or sing the old nursery rhyme “Here We Go ’Round the Mulberry Bush” and reminisce about kids’ playground singing games. (Examples: London Bridge, Ring Around a Rosie, Hokey-Pokey, Skip to My Lou) For fun, ask: What do you do with mulberries?
- CHERRIES: Read poems about cherries: “Cherry Ripe” by Robert Herrick, “Cherry-Time” by Robert Graves, “Loveliest of Trees – the Cherry Now” by A.E. Housman. Show photos of cherry trees in blossom and talk about the Cherry Blossom Festival/Parade in Washington, DC. Name types of cherries (Bing, Rainier, black, etc.). Share tips on how to keep birds away from cherry trees (noise maker, pie tin) and talk about tools needed to pick cherries. Sketch a bowl of fresh cherries. Eat cherry pie a la mode.
- PIE: Discuss the meaning of fruit and pie idioms: humble pie, pie in the sky, easy as pie, a slice of the pie, finger in the pie, brown as a berry, bear fruit, forbidden fruit, fruit of your labor, cherry pick, as red as a cherry, the cherry on the cake.
BERRIES TRIVIA QUIZ
- Which state produces the most strawberries? California
- Name the two kinds of raspberries. Red and black
- What kind of red berry has seeds on the outside of its skin? Strawberry
- Berries are a rich source of which vitamin? C
- The elderberry is thought to help prevent what kind of winter ailment? Flu
- What are cranberries grown in? Bog
- An inedible berry used for Christmas decorating is what? Holly berry
- Which city in the U.S. is famous for its beauty at cherry blossom time in the spring? Washington, D.C.
- What does it mean to “give someone the raspberries”? To deride them or to tease them
- Strawberries are often paired with what other fruit to make a springtime pie? Rhubarb
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” ~ Moliere
“Burst of Berries and Cherries” was written by Sue Hansen. Copyright 2015 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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