There’s nothing like the sweet taste of a sun-ripened strawberry, fresh from the vine. May is National Strawberry Month, since strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each spring in the U.S. There are even two special days in May that celebrate strawberries: National Pick Strawberries Day on May 20, and National Strawberries & Cream Day on May 21. Take part in celebrating this delicious fruit and then explore strawberries beyond the kitchen with the activity ideas below.
PICK STRAWBERRIES – Load up your crew and head to a strawberry patch near you. Members will enjoy getting outdoors to participate in an activity they probably did as children, or with their own children. Invite participants to pick strawberries as they’re able, or arrange for volunteers to escort members through the strawberry fields. Pick plenty of strawberries to take back with you to use in your next cooking class.
BUBBLE WRAP PRINTING – Use bubble wrap along with strawberry cut-outs to make some fruity creations. Create a strawberry template by drawing a strawberry, leaves included, on an 8.5” x 11” piece of card stock paper. You want the strawberry to fill as much of the paper as you can – the larger the better for this project. Cut out the strawberry shape. Give each participant a piece of white card stock paper, 8.5” x 11”. Instruct them to trace the strawberry template on their paper and then cut it out. Next, give each participant a piece of bubble wrap, any size of bubbles will do. The size should be just an inch or so larger than the strawberry cut-out. Lay the bubble wrap, bubble side up, on the table and instruct participants to paint the majority of the bubble wrap with red acrylic paint. Use green acrylic paint to fill the upper portion of the bubble wrap, where the leaves will align on their strawberries. While the paint is still wet, instruct participants to gently press their strawberry cutouts on top of the bubble wrap, aligning it so that the leaves hit the green area and the strawberry hits the red area. Press down gently, coating the strawberry in paint, before pulling it back up. The strawberry cutout should be imprinted with color and the bubble wrap will create a fun pattern. Allow them to dry before displaying.
IN THE GARDEN – It’s not too late to enjoy strawberries in the garden. Pick up a potted strawberry plant from your local garden store and enjoy freshly-picked strawberries all summer long. Place it in a sunny location outdoors, and guide members to water the plant as needed. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a lot to say about growing strawberries. While you’re caring for the strawberry plant, read about growing strawberries and reminisce with your group about gardening in general. You can find a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac at the grocery store, the hardware store, or the library.
FRESHLY SQUEEZED LEMONADE – Start by placing eight topped strawberries, halved, in a blender. Top with two tablespoons of sugar and one cup of water. Blend until the strawberries transform into juice. Next, combine the strawberry juice, six cups of water, one cup of sugar, and two cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a large pitcher. Stir, then chill before serving. Make this in the morning with your group, then enjoy drinking it together on the patio in the late afternoon.
VINTAGE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE – The doll Strawberry Shortcake was popular with little girls from 1979 to 1985. Members may recall purchasing this doll for their grandchildren or children. Reminisce with your group about this vintage doll (which is still available today after being re-issued in 2002), as well as other vintage toys. Borrow or purchase this doll to add to the nostalgia. Look up the history of Strawberry Shortcake on the internet and share with members.
REMINISCENT SENSORY DOUGH – Sensory play is very beneficial and therapeutic, especially for members with dementia. Mix up a batch of this no-cook strawberry playdough recipe and use with members in small groups or one-on-one. Help participants roll out the dough with rolling pins and cut out the shapes of strawberries with a strawberry-shaped cookie cutter. Let participants smell the aroma, encourage them to mold various shapes with their hands, and reminisce about strawberry picking, making strawberry pie, gardening, or baking.
REPURPOSE BASKETS – Save the small baskets that strawberries are typically packaged in and repurpose them for a fun craft. Use them as a stamp to create a work of art. Simply dip the bottom of the basket in paint that’s been poured on a paper plate. Then, stamp it on a piece of paper. Layer colors or add in other stamps from your supplies. Acrylic or tempera paints work best for this project. Another great use for these baskets is to turn the plastic baskets into woven baskets.
ACROSTIC POETRY – Write an acrostic poem with your group and feature it in your next newsletter. Start by writing the word “strawberry” vertically on a white board or large piece of paper. Then, starting with the letter S, ask participants to describe a strawberry using a word that also starts with the letter S, such as sweet. Continue on, until your group has completed each letter in the word. The poem doesn’t need to rhyme or have specific meter, although it could.
GRANDMA’S STRAWBERRY RECIPES – National Strawberry Month wouldn’t be complete without baking something sweet in the kitchen using strawberries. Ask your group for their favorite strawberry pie, shortcake, or other strawberry recipes and try them out throughout the month. For more independent groups, have a Strawberry Bake-Off, where participants bake their best strawberry recipe and enter it into a contest. Form a judge panel to determine the winner, or ask members to vote for their favorite.
CINCO DE STRAWBERRY SALSA – Add a little strawberry salsa, and salsa dancing, to your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Ask participants to help you make this simple strawberry salsa: Mix together two pints of diced strawberries, one finely diced red onion, the juice from two limes, and one bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped. Serve with tortilla chips.
STRAWBERRY STRETCHES – Incorporate strawberries in your next fitness class by leading participants in a few strawberry stretches. Pretend to pick strawberries from a field. Toss them into the air, stretching the arms. Envision holding a single strawberry in each hand, palms facing upwards. Instruct participants to touch each digit to the center of the strawberry in their hand. Then, instruct participants to raise their hands to their noses and imagine the smell of the freshly picked strawberry. Add a few strawberry stretches of your own, and start or end your fitness class with them.
STRAWBERRIES & SONGS – Ask your group to name songs that mention strawberries. After your group lists the songs, listen to them and discuss the lyrics. You can easily find the songs and lyrics by doing an internet search, or on youtube.com. Here are a couple to get you started: “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles, “Raspberries, Strawberries” by The Kingston Trio, and “Strawberry Shortcake” by Jay and the Techniques. There’s also the old favorite “The Band Played On,” which sings about a strawberry blonde.
PICKING STRAWBERRIES TRIVIA
- Strawberries are the member of which flower family? The rose family
- Which U.S. state produces the most pounds of strawberries each year? California
- Strawberries are an excellent source of which essential nutrient: Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, or Vitamin D? Vitamin C
- How do people love to eat strawberries on Valentine’s Day? Coated in chocolate
- Approximately how many seeds does the average strawberry contain: 50, 100, or 200? 200
- Which U.S. state does not grow strawberries? Trick question: every state grows strawberries
- In the past, people used fresh strawberries to cleanse which part of their bodies? Teeth
- What makes a strawberry such a unique fruit? They are the only fruit to have seeds on the outside
- What is the name of the popular ice cream that features the flavors chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry all in the same container? Neapolitan
- On average, how many pounds of strawberries do Americans eat each year: 2.7, 3.4, or 4.8? 3.4 pounds
PICKING STRAWBERRIES THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Picking Strawberries” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2019 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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