One of the adventure ideas in the Bambini Field Guide is Berry Picking. This is one of our favorite Spring and Summer activities. We have gone several times, the first was when our twin toddlers were about 15 months old.
We went blueberry picking at Country Bumpkin Farm near the Wisconsin Dells. I wasn't sure how this would go with two tiny tots, but we had a blast. We came home with a pint of blueberries and a ton more blueberries in our bellies.
Tips for Berry Picking with Toddlers
1. Call Beforehand
Berries are unpredictable. Just because strawberry season is usually in June does not promise that because you show up at a strawberry farm in June that there will be strawberries to pick. It is always a good idea to call the farm ahead of time to ensure a successful trip and this is even more important when you are heading their will less patient children.
2. Lower Your Expectations
Later when our kids are older I am sure that they will be helpful berry pickers. As tiny toddlers they are going to eat more berries than they are going to put in the basket. They are going to have trouble differentiating between the good ones and the ones that are not quite ripe. Remind yourself of your goals - to learn about blueberries? to have fun? to bring a small number home? Focus on those and relax.
3. Explain Ripe vs. Not Ripe
It is a hard concept for young kids that some berries are not ready to be eaten. In their world, berries are yummy. I explained it to our twins by telling them that green ones were a no and blue ones were a yes, but we still had some sour blueberries consumed and added to our basket. As with all things toddler, repeat your message calmly and as often as needed.
4. Dress Weather Appropriate
Sunscreen and weather appropriate clothes are important. You are going to be out in a field with no shade.
Recording Mini Adventures with Children
Our Bambini Field Guide is useful for several things including;
1) Recommending Ideas for Adventures with Young Kids
In this case, a berry farm. Researching a tiny bit online helped me find a berry farm about 15 minutes from our house and their website had helpful information about what was in season.
2) Providing Space for You to Record Your Observations, Questions, Ideas, Notes.
I am one of those people who quickly forgets things unless I write them down. I observed how our kids approached the blueberry farm. What they did, what was hard for them, what they liked the best. When we got back in the car and our children were buckled in and content, I quickly jotted down my observations. Later during naptime I brainstormed some ideas to extend what I observed at the farm.
Learning through Adventure is something from which even the youngest children benefit. A blueberry is something yummy you eat and there are books, like Blueberries for Sal, that can describe a little about where blueberries come from. However, the real experience of picking blueberries gives children a deeper understanding. They start to learn where blueberries come from and how they end up on the table. They are introduced to the concept of ripe and develop fine motor skills. In order to make these experiences most meaningful, it is important to repeat them. Toddlers learn best through repetition. It is of course okay to just go berry picking, but you can draw deeper connections if you expand on your adventure at home or back in the classroom. The notes you take and observations you make can help you determine where to go next. If you child had zero interest in the blueberries and instead played in the dirt or wandered off to watch a tractor - you know something about your child and what they want to learn right now.
Where will your next adventures take you?
The Bambini Field Guide is now available on Amazon!
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