Hedgerow Harvest

During September we encouraged our families to go blackberry picking and share with us some of their spoils.

As part of this month’s fun food activity, Willow Cottage families have been scouring the hedgerows for seasonal bounty with a special focus on blackberries.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their fruitful finds with their child’s nursery.

Farmoor Setting

Our Farmoor setting used their donated blackberries to make a low sugar blackberry and apple crumble. The children have been learning to weigh and measure the ingredients on the scales and have been working together the cover the fruit base with the crumble topping by spooning the mixture over the top. They made enough to even take some home.

The practitioners froze a large block of ice with blackberries in the middle of it. This meant that we could enjoy some ice play and blackberry excavation as well as some blackberry painting. We also used some blackberries in our mud kitchen and enjoyed their lovely smell as we mixed up our lotions and creations.

The smoothies we made were a big hit. The blackberries turned everything pink. We had to blitz everything in our blender to make it smooth, and the blender was so noisy it was a bit scary. We covered our ears with our hands until it was fully blended.

Thank you for sending in so many blackberries into nursery, we were in the fortunate position to also be able to make some blackberry jam. And what goes very well with blackberry jam you ask? Homemade butter of course. Whilst the adults had to oversee the hot parts of making the jam, the children added cream to a glass jar and shook it, taking turns, until the butter had been churned solid. We thoroughly enjoyed our jam and butter on our rolls at tea time.

Eynsham Setting

At our Eynsham setting we realised that we had our very own supply of the tasty fruits on our hedgerow bushes. Our teachers discussed with us ways to be safe and what dangers to look out for before we closed the gates and ventured into the car park.

We had a walk along the hedgerow until we found some blackberries. We were able to pick all of the low ones ourselves, being careful for spiky thorns. When we had collected the lower ones the teachers helped us pick the higher ones by lifting us up. We spoke about how to work out which ones were ready to be eaten (ripe) and how to tell the ones that were not yet ready. Once we had collected them we came back inside to wash them and we ate them for out tea. They were so juicy.

Many of our families also went blackberry picking at home and we had lots of fruit being brought in. We ate some and we had so many that we were able to use the juices to colour our playdough. We also did some blackberry painting.

Bletchingdon Setting

At our Bletchingdon setting, we decided we would like to make some blackberry and apple jam. We have become extremely good at making jam and have made a number of batches throughout September. Our teachers explained to us how jam has to get very hot before it cools. It was really lovely to see how proud the children were to take home jam from the fruit they had picked themselves. We spread the jam on our pitta bread for tea, it was delicious.

Everyone had a turn at cutting the apples and we discussed the two different types we used. Elaine explained there were Cooking and Eating apples and we tasted the eating apples. We talked about going blackberry picking and had a turn tipping ingredients into a saucepan. We made enough jam for everyone to have some for tea on our bread rolls and for breakfast on our toast.

We have learned to look out for the ripe fruits when going on a blackberry hunt in the field and know to ask before we eat anything in case it is dangerous. The weighing scales were used to measure out the ingredients for our crumble and we especially enjoyed eating it for tea. We also helped to make some fabulous pink blackberry playdough. It was great fun rolling, cutting and making some amazing smelling playdough cakes (with a blackberry on the top of course).

Thank you to all our families for some wonderful partnership. We hope you enjoyed your blackberries as much as we did and we have loved to hear about and see your blackberry picking expeditions.