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September - Blackberry's Sunbathing Day

September - Blackberry's Sunbathing Day


September - Blackberry's Sunbathing Day

This page gives you more information about the Blackberry's Sunbathing Day book - what your children will get out of reading it and information on all our extension activities and links to food and story related fun.

This page will tell you:
- a storyline summary of the Blackberry's Sunbathing Day story
- foods featured in the story
- ideas for extending the themes in the story (sun safety)
- food activities you can do with children in September
- recipe ideas for blackberries
- other links and ideas for working with this story

Storyline summary

Blackberry is very concerned that she will just never get enough sun to ripen and turn black.

Although she moves all over the garden to the best sunbathing spots, she keeps being thwarted by people getting in the way of the sun and shading her out.

Eventually she realises that she has managed to start to ripen and is beginning to turn a darker colour.

September Featured Foods


Tomatoes, damsons, courgettes, sweetcorn, spinach

Blackberries are a perfect first foraging food for children. They are easy to recognise and they taste great right from the plant or can be used in cooking back at home. Blackberry brambles grow in cities as well as the countryside. Some children find them a little tart the first time they try them, so make sure their first taste is a really sweet berry. Or try pairing it with another more familiar fruit such as with apples in an apple and blackberry crumble. If you do get chance to go blackberry picking with your children, it is well worth it and something that every child should do at least once in their childhood.

Mediterranean types of vegetables such as tomatoes, courgettes, and sweetcorn are rampant in September - they generally need a long bout of sunshine to ripen up and the extra few weeks into September gives them that ripening time. If you're lucky enough to grow tomatoes at home (and if not, then try some in a pot next year!) then there is nothing more satisfying than eating a tomato straight from the plant.

You may be getting a bit fed up of courgettes now if you grow them, but don't forget to sweat some down for the freezer because you'll miss them when they are gone a few weeks. If you need inspiration for how to use them try this blog post.

Sweetcorn straight from the plant is out of this world. The sugar in the cobs starts to turn to starch as soon as it is picked, so we (copying more experienced allotmenteers, who always seem to know best!) get the water on to boil before we go out to pick them and get them straight in from the garden to the short cook to the plate. If you haven't grown them, don't go for 'fresh' ones in the supermarket as they may well be mostly starchy - they could have been picked many days ago. Either get them from a farmer's market where the vendor can tell you they have been picked in the last 24 hours, or go and pick your own at a farm. Or just go for the frozen ones, which are frozen within hours and are very sweet.

Damsons are a real old fashioned English treat - a slightly tarter fruit than their cousins the plum, they make brilliant jam, jelly, ice cream and other puddings. You can often find damson trees at the side of the road in the countryside and scrump some. It is interesting to get children to try tasting damsons and plums to see what they think the difference is. Because damsons have high levels of pectin, they make excellent preserves.

Story Theme

Sun Safety

In this story blackberry is, like most youngsters, desperate to be grown up. For a blackberry this means being ripe and that means turning a darker colour in the sunshine. Her quest is all about getting enough sunshine to be ripe. This is a good opportunity to talk to children about fruit ripening and how we don't eat it until it is ripe. You can tell them how nature has developed fruit to spread the plants seeds, and it does that by making the fruits contain sugar to tempt animals and birds to eat the fruit and spread the seed around either by dropping them when eating or by pooping them out afterwards.

Of course humans can't get ripe by going in the sun. In fact too much sun can be bad for us. Children need to get out in the sunshine to get their dose of Vitamin D, but if they don't learn to respect the sun, to understand that their skin cannot cope with too much of it, especially when it is very strong, they will end up getting burned and developing a fear of playing in the sun. So it is best if they learn how to stay safe (but not paranoid) in the sun and then they can enjoy it.

We have developed three activities which get children to explore their own personal strengths, plus some weblinks which can reinforce this idea. You can find them here.

Food Activities For September

Tasting Sessions - You can get the children involved in tasting seasonal foods as with all the other months. We provide instructions for a blindfold guessing tasting game here on the site which is free to download and there are printable guessing strips for each month featuring five seasonal foods to taste which are easy to provide in bite size pieces and are fairly child-friendly (essentially won't put them off tasting things). The tastes for September are: blackberry, courgette, tomato, sweetcorn, pepper. There are suggestions in the instructions for how best to prepare foods to make them palatable. You can find the instructions and the printable strips here.

Discovering Food - Modelling Sessions - children learn a lot by touching and discovering. We have instructions here for a discovery session, using the five seasonal foods or any other of your choice, where children get to handle and observe them and then try to replicate what they have discovered with playdough or clay. You can find the instructions for the activity here.

How Blackberries Grow - Sequencing Game - If children have been collecting blackberries they may be aware that they grow on a bramble like a climbing vine. But they may not be aware of the connection between the plant producing flowers and then fruits. We have a sequencing exercise here for you to print off and do - there are tiles to cut up and move around on the table to find the right sequence, a blank sequence chart for children to glue their finished sequence onto, or there is also a completed version to print off and colour in. We provide two versions - a four part sequence for younger children and a six part sequence for older children. You can find all the instructions and templates here.

Recipe Ideas For Blackberries

This recipe for blackberry muffins is a lovely easy recipe to introduce children to blackberries in place of the more familiar raspberry or blueberry.

Blackberry and apple crumble is an absolute must. This version uses muesli and nuts in the topping to add a bit of crunch and a little extra something. Well worth making and dead simple. I love how the purple juice stains all the apples and bubbles up into the crumble.

The simplest recipe of all - blended frozen berries with a little juice to loosen it into a granite texture - is a great idea - you can find an example here.

Other ideas for working with this story

This website has a bunch of printable activities around sun safety for different age groups.

If you want to explore how fruit ripens, this science activity and worksheet allows children to observe fruits in different conditions to see how their storage affects how they ripen.





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