Its that time of year again when tons of delicious fruit is coming into season and the supermarket shelves fill up with jam sugar, jars and lables. Sadly, jam-making seems to be something a lot of people view as a complicated ordeal that is better left to others. In reality, jam-making is quick and easy, thanks to foolproof jam sugar and there is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you see your homemade jam in jars with pretty labels.
Getting the children involved in the making is a great way to teach them about how preserves are made as well as helping them with maths, writing and motor skills. OK, so there is boiling sugary fruit involved, but that is the bit that you as an adult can take over. All the preparation can be done by the children.
Here’s how to go about it.
- Let the childeren help you choose the fruit, either by picking it in your own garden, by visiting a pick-your-own-fruit farm or simple letting them help you choose the juiciest looking fruit at the market or supermarket.
- Leave the preparation of the fruit up to the children. All fruit needs washing first of all. Depending on the fruit, it will then need the stalks removed (strawberries) or the stones removed (plums, apricots) or need to be sliced (rhubarb). Then the sugar needs to be added and stirred in. All of this fiddling about with small pieces of fruit, transferring them from a punnet to a colander to a saucepan can help with the children’s motor skills, pincer grip and hand-eye coordination.
- Get the children talking. Ask them to give their views on the jam. Do they want their jam to have large chunks of fruit, small chunks or be pureed? Get them to taste the fruit (but not raw rhubarb!) and decribe the flavour. This will help them use a good range of vocabulary and get them chatting as they wash, chop and stone the fruit.
- Don’t be afraid to get messy. Fruit juices can stain clothes, so make sure the children have old clothes or aprons on. Once their clothes are protected, you can let them get messy. Rather than slicing the fruit into small pieces or pureeing it, let the children mash it with a potato masher. This works perfectly for soft fruit like raspberries and strawberries.
- Weighing the fruit and sugar provides a great opportunity for children to use their maths. If you are using 4 x 500g punnets of fruit, for example, ask your child to add up how much they weigh together. Then let the children weigh the fruit and check if they were right. Depending on the type of jam sugar you are using, you may need equal quantities of fruit and sugar, or a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of fruit to sugar. Older children should be able to help with working out the ratios. With a 2:1 jam sugar you need 2000g fruit and 1000g sugar.
- Include some guessing games. Ask the children to guess which lid matches which jar, how many jam jars the jam will fill or which piece of fruit is the heaviest or the lightest of the fruit you have before you.
- Writing and drawing skills. While you are dealing with the dangerous business of sterilising jars, boiling up the fruit and pouring the boiling mixture into jars, have the children prepare labels for the jars. There are tons of pretty labels available online and in stationery shops. However, for children it can be a lot more fun to use blank labels from an office supplies store. They can draw their own pictures and write their own lables. If you plan to give the jam as a gift to grandparents, teachers or neighbours they will love that the children put so much effort into personalising the jam jars.
I’m sharing this on #BloggerClubUK with Becky and Debbie