Parent and Child Activities

(Chillin’ Crow Books will post online seasonal activities tied to the book.
Signup on our email list for notice of new activities)

PICKIN’ BERRIES

Pickin’ Berries is about picking berries and making jam! It’s about the fun summer activities that stem from berries that are all around.

Enjoy making smoothies or taking a berry trip with the family:

1) Make Pete’s “Berry Berry-licious” Crow Smoothie with the family

This is a healthy treat for the whole family—great for breakfast, lunch, a mid-afternoon lift or a late night snack that won’t fill you up before you go to bed! First things first—make sure you have a good, sturdy, preferably glass blender.

Ingredients and Instructions (makes about one quart or 4 smoothies):

Combine in the blender -

  • Two cups orange juice: I always use the low or no pulp kind. Better yet, if you have a juicer then juice your own. There is nothing better than fresh-squeezed orange juice.
  • One cup of berries: Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry “any berry will do!” Use fresh berries if available: otherwise, freeze them when they are in season and use later.
  • One Banana—Fresh is great, but frozen works too. We always keep frozen bananas around. When you see a banana get too ripe, peel it, cut it in half and put it in your freezer
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Optional super-healthy extras (I always use these in my smoothies)

  • 2-3 tablespoons yogurt—make the smoothie even creamier
  • One teaspoon brewer’s yeast—I use the gold flake kind; you can buy it in jars or in bulk. A nice nutty addition to your smoothies that is also wonderful on popcorn.
  • One teaspoon oat bran—great fiber

Blend it on the highest speed for as long as it takes, and…voila!

2) Take a berry picking trip with your children

Find a farm in your area that advertises “pick your own” berries and contact them first for the best times to bring your young children. Always inquire as to what berries they have in season and ask them if their fruit is organic, pesticide-free, or conventional.

  • Make sure you have a container or basket before you leave
  • It might be a very hot day, so bring sunscreen and hats.
  • If you plan on picking a lot of berries, bring a cooler for the ride home.
  • Get an early start in the morning.
  • Bring lots of water and snacks.
  • Wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting filthy and stained.
  • For strawberries, only pick the really red ones.
  • For blackberries, only pick the blackest ones—the ones with red are not ready.
  • For blueberries, make sure that they have a real blue color and give a little to the touch.
  • For raspberries, know that they won’t keep very long, so monitor how many you pick.
  • When you get home, freeze the extras, and wash the ones you plan to use.
  • Always have an idea what you will do with all these berries, such as make smoothies (see above), bake pies, or make preserves and jams.

SPRING SONG

Spring Song is about butterflies, bees, bugs, kittens, puppies, tadpoles and robins. We also mention plants, gardens, weeds, flowers and showers—and kites!

Here are a few fun activities you can do with your child in the spring:.

1) Walk around the block and count how many bees you can find.
“Petals arrive, bees stopping by.”

Kids love bees – as long as they don’t get stung! After all, that’s where honey comes from! Watch your child as they observe a bee feasting on a flower.

2) Start an herb or tomato garden and later make tomato sauce.
“Starting a garden, I beg your pardon.”

Starting a garden can be hard work, but it is fun and rewarding, especially when those tomatoes start coming up by the dozen. Watching a child make the connection between what is happening in the backyard garden — and what he sees on the dinner plate on top of his pasta — is quite a kick.

3) Walk in a park and look for wildflowers.
“Here come the showers, soon we’ll have flowers.”

Use a field guidebook to identify them. In every city or town we are blessed with beautiful public parks, and several have flower gardens inside of them. But off the beaten path one can find a whole world of wildflowers, different for each part of the country. Once your child gets a picture of how many varieties there are, you can help them assemble their own scrapbook or art project with the wildflowers. An excellent source book for this is: Wildflowers: The National Audubon Society First Field Guide.

4) Teach children about the names of baby animals.
“I see puppies, not dogs, I see tadpoles, not frogs.”

All kids know that a little dog is a puppy and a little cat is a kitten, but how many animals have names that aren’t familiar?

5) Get a butterfly kit to observe a caterpillar change into a butterfly.
“I see white butterflies.”

One of the first things we learn as kids is how a caterpillar evolves into a butterfly. A great place to get one is online from the Nature Gift Store.

6) Buy ladybugs and put them on a rose plant or a fruit tree to keep aphids off.

Let them go, and watch them climb. Ladybugs are good for nature — they control the aphids that eat flowers and destroy fruit trees.