Teaching Foraging For Kids

blackberries-Foraging For Kids

Teach Kids To Forage

Importance Of Teaching Foraging For Kids

Foraging for kids-Parents Bushcraft

Foraging for kids-parents bushcraft

I am often asked about foraging and children. I look back at how I learned about foraging. It was a natural part of growing up, as I walked around the countryside with my parents and some other adults they would point out plants and berries. I would be encouraged to try them, and I learned what I could eat as a snack when I was outdoors. When I was out playing I didn’t want to run home for snacks, so I would find my own. During part of my life I stopped learning, but what I learned quickly returned and some had never left. To this day I still don’t eat much chocolate and prefer nuts and berries.

Nutrition and diet is seen as an important part of all our lives. Foraging is a skill that is important today as it has been in the past. Snacks in a child’s daily routine can play an important role to help manage their hunger and assist in boosting their nutrition. If people time snacks well it can not only help to manage hunger, it can also help provide a much-needed energy boost between meals.

Often, we see adults and children growing bored of the same so called healthy snacks, expensive punnets of fruit, bread sticks. These foods are often processed, flown many miles and sprayed with insecticides. With a little knowledge you can provide healthy snacks that can be found all around us and are seasonally fresh, containing many vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Plus, they are all free.

WWhy Teach Kids To Forage

It is a great advantage for our children to learn how to forage. It not only provides valuable nutrition, it teaches them about nature and the world around them. As I said earlier, learning about foraging was a nature thing to do and also something that has had a lasting effect on my life. This is something we should all be passing on to our younger generations.

From my experience children love being given the opportunity to find something outdoors that they can eat. After a little encouragement to try the new foods, many children light up at the thought of foraging, finding and trying new food that is growing wild. It quickly becomes a fun and enjoyable activity, whether it is plants, nuts, berry’s or bugs.

By showing them that eating some plants should not be scary, but fun. Teaching them to manage risk, a skill lacking in many young people that is taught through most area of bushcraft. Taking a little caution, plus lots of positive encouragement, there is not reason children shouldn’t be able to positively identify a variety of common and safe wild edibles.

As I have said many times previously our children are missing out on engaging and learning from the natural world. This often leads to adults having a lack an understanding of the importance of nature to modern day society. This leads to society becoming disconnected from the food they eat.

Getting Started.

The best starting point with regards to teaching children about foraging for wild edibles are common berries with no poisonous look a likes, for example blackberries and Elderberries. These are widespread and taste sweets, making them more palatable for young people. This gives them a positive experience when trying something new. It is important to make foraging a fun positive experience. Edible flowers can be another fun food source for kids Dandelions are found in abundance and it can be fun munching on a few petals. Alternatively collecting bags of the big yellow heads and use them to make dandelion syrup this can then be poured over freshly homemade pancakes.

When out with children point out and identify trees with children

Pennywort.

Pennywort is easy to identify and plentiful. It can be found growing in hedges that have stones and in crevices in Rocks

Pennywort Foraging for kids

Pennywort Foraging for kidsrocks.

Flowers: Spikes of greenish- on stems that may be a reddish shade

Time: flowers in spring and as late as May and early summer depending on location.
It really is an enjoyable edible wild plant, with a mild taste with a sweet crunch, it can be eaten as a salad vegetable or to add to sandwiches.

Most of all – make a great snack food.

Elderflower

elderflower- Foraging For Kids

Elderflower- Foraging For Kids

Elderflowers are one of the UK’s signature wild foods. It is found in abundance in early summer. Although the flowers can be taken from the stem and added to salads or jellies, they aren’t usually. You can make a great snack for children by turning them into fritters. Finely chop the elder flowers and mix with flour, water until you get a thick batter and then fry in hot oil for a minute or two. You can lightly dust them in cinnamon, along with a small amount of brown sugar or honey.

common sorrel-foraging For Kids

common sorrel-foraging For Kids

Common Sorrel

Common Sorrel can be found growing in most types of pasture, including meadows, roadsides and hedgerows. The flavour is: a citrus, sharpness often described as tasting a bit of sherbet. It is a quite distinct taste, not like anything else. Common Sorrel is an easy plant to identify, the lobes at the base of the leaf always point backwards down the stem.

Warning It does contain oxalic acid. Avoid eating too much in one day, however, a good fistful is uplifting and refreshing when out and about.

Blackberries

blackberries-Foraging For Kids

blackberries-Foraging For Kids

This was one of my childhood favourites and I would often return home with stained fingers and the evidence around my lips. I come across more and more children that have never eaten one of natures abundant fruits. Wild blackberries are like the ones you buy in the supermarket, but with more flavour. The fruit, which ripens from mid-summer to early autumn, turning from green to red to black. There are so many things you can do in the kitchen with these, but you can’t beat just eating them from a bowl.

Always put safety first.

Always remember the Number one rule of foraging. Before eating anything from the wild is to be sure of its identification. You must emphasise this to any children prior to going out. I recommend having the following rule and ensure it is ingrained in the children’s head’s.

NEVER taste ANYTHING unless they have double checked with you that it’s safe to eat.

If you have any doubt, then just leave well alone.

Ensure that they are picking their edible plants from a safe location.

Never collect plants for eating from a busy roadside or low down on a path frequented by dog walkers.

Always have fun.

Foraging is a big adventure for you can capitalise on this by setting mini challenges. Make a list of challenges, for example, who can be the first to find a certain plant
Children are usually good at recognising edible plants but often get the names confused. Lots of repetition of the name will help, bring the plant and confirming identification with you also helps. An additional activity that children like is pressing flowers and plants. This can be done between heavy books or you can make your own press. After the plants are pressed they can be mounted in a reference book or laminated. Children enjoy this activity and can build their own reference material.

There are numerous books that are very good, and it is good to collect several to use as a reference. One book I like that is suitable for many environments both rural and urban is “The Edible City” by Jon Rensten.

 

         

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3 Responses to Teaching Foraging For Kids

  1. mcquilty says:

    Love it. Keep up the good work.

  2. This is something I need to work on. Good job teaching the little ones. Never had that growing up

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