The summer holidays are upon us – weeks and weeks of sunny (and not so sunny) days with the kids stretch ahead. Days out don’t come cheaply so we thought we’d put together a few inexpensive and completely free ideas to help entertain the kids at home. Most of them will use things you have around the house too. Feel free to share them with your friends on Facebook or Twitter!
Without further ado, I give you…
BLACKBERRY PICKING AND JAM MAKING
You will need:
Somewhere where blackberries grow wild; they thrive in the least promising spots, ours are gathered from the local park and you can find them whether you live in the town (growing wild on passageways or by the railway or in the local park) or the countryside (any old pathway or hedgerow will have them).
A plastic tub
A bag of sugar
Some clean, dry jars (sterilise with boiling water)
Kids love picking (and eating) blackberries. Go out for a nice stroll and take a tub with you. Pick as many as you can carry. Small folk love finding a new patch and squirrelling about for ripe ones. Around 900g-1kg will make four jars of jam. We picked around 500g and made two jars.
When you get home, rinse the fruit in a sieve, bung it in a pan with a 50ml of water per 900g of fruit and some lemon juice, for full details; this is an easy recipe and boil it up for about ten minutes. Add the same weight of sugar as your fruit and boil for another ten minutes. If you have less fruit and less sugar it won’t need quite as long to boil. Then pour into your old jam jars to set. Voila! I should point out that this bit is best done by an adult; boiling sugar and fruit is exceedingly hot and not a practice suitable for young children. However older children will be interested to see the alchemy as fresh fruit becomes sweet, sticky jam.
While you deal with the boiling side of things, younger kids can get on with designing their own jam labels and write their names on them, draw fruit, a logo, whatever they like. Glue the labels on when the jam has cooled.
Older kids might even like to make enough jam so they can sell it on a stall out front and make some pocket money. It will only have cost about 25p per jar so they could make a tidy profit.
My eldest loves picking the berries and really enjoys getting his own jar of jam out at breakfast time. This is a simple and virtually free activity which teaches your child about nature, the science of food production, a little bit of art and design in creating a label and you might even create a budding entrepreneur when they realise they can sell their jam for a 400% profit.
Watch Out For:
Boiling hot sugar and fruit. Nobody wants to get burnt with that stuff, especially a child. Take care.
About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for three-and-half years.
Photo credit: Alison McGarragh-Murphy