Have you ever gone berry picking with kids before? Years ago, I would go by myself, spending a quiet afternoon outdoors in a berry patch. I enjoyed time in the sunshine and being able to commune with nature. A few years later, when the kids were older, I decided that it would be fun to take them along. It was fun, but certainly not the same experience! Here are my tips for heading to the berry patch with kids.

Go during slower times

Instead of taking the kids during the busiest time of the day (or season), schedule your outing during a slower time. Kids don’t care if their berries are at the peak of freshness. They’ll be just as happy picking the berries that aren’t quite as prime. And, you’ll have a lot less worry about competing with other guests.

Plan for snacks

Make sure you talk to the kids before you leave about eating strawberries from the plants. The chances are that the berries have been sprayed with pesticide to keep the insects away. Even if they haven’t, the berry farm may not look kindly on the kids eating handfuls of berries before they’ve been weighed and paid for. Instead, bring along a big water bottle and a few healthy snacks for the kids to enjoy.

Remember protection

Bring a hat for each child to wear while they’re berry picking. Even if you’re only outside for an hour, too much sun is a bad thing. Also, bring along a sweat proof sunscreen for you and the kids to wear. It’s also recommended that your child wears closed toe shoes like athletic shoes, rather than sandals, to protect their feet.

Remind them of the rules

Before you start picking, remind the kids of the berry picking rules. It’s best to discuss things like where to walk, how to be gentle to the plants, and how to properly pick the berries. Even the youngest child can understand that blueberries should be blue and not green when picked.

Plan for break times

Depending on how long you plan to be gone, it’s important that you plan for a break time part way through picking. You can use the opportunity to have a snack, read a book or run around in an open field. Make sure that you bring along a big blanket, wipes for sticky fingers, and a baby carrier for children who tire out easily.

Let them cook afterward

Berry picking is fun, but cooking with fresh berries is even more fun. Plan a few simple recipes to do with your child. You can dip strawberries in chocolate, make a strawberry smoothie, or make a few jars of strawberry marmalade to give as gifts that year.