Strawberry Moon Outdoor Activities for Kids
A Strawberry moon is the full moon of the month of June. It got its name from Algonquin tribes who knew it as a sign to harvest ripening fruit and indeed, June is peak time to gather strawberries. Thanks to the summer solstice and the close end of the school year, the strawberry moon is also a great time of the year for kids to play outside and to enjoy nature late in the day when days are long.
This post is part of an educational Free Unit Studies series whose theme is Strawberries. I take the theme outdoors and all it encompasses under the Strawberry Moon. To celebrate the Strawberry Moon, here are outdoor activities for kids of all ages. Feel free to add them to your solstice party with family and friends! It is only fitting that this celebration of Strawberry Moons should begin with an Algonquin game for kids.
Game of Gugwetc
Famous for their canoes, the Algonquin people live in southern Quebec and eastern Ontario in Canada. Many of their tales, particularly war stories, stress the magic power of song and birds are said to have inspired their composers. The game of gugwetc (ghost, literally owl) is similar to a game of tag for kids and is best for groups. Owls were associated with Algonquin witchcraft and were a bad omen, hence the part where kids have to run away from the ghost in the game.
The game of gugwetc is best played on a sandy beach or in the sandy part of a playground, but any other surface on which you can trace lines works as well. Think chalk on pavement or stick in dirt. To make the instructions less cluttered, I used the word “sand” to mean any surface you have picked to play the game. As far as materials, you will need:
- Tool (stick, chalk) to draw a line on the ground
- Very soft sponge ball
- The kids sit in a small circle in the sand, each with three lines drawn in front of them. The lines represent, respectively, tcabudjidjiain (brook), iktakti (path) and iksidaamitc (soul).
- One of the kids leads the first round. He/she is the gugwetc and sings a song consisting of the three words in the order given. If you wish the native American word, here is a link to an Algonquin pronunciation guide. The song is repeated until the game/round is finished.
- While the gugwetc drones the song, he/she scratches out a line in front of each player as his/her hand goes around the circle.
- The one whose line is last to be rubbed out jumps up and runs away, the gugwetc attempting to tag him/her with a soft ball.
- If the gugwetc strikes, the latter becomes the gugwetc.
Go On a Wild Strawberry Hike
Wild strawberries are the ultimate summer delicacy and considered quite a treasure, not only because their intense taste is second to none, but because they rarely grow in abundance. When you find a patch, you will need to eat them fast because they don’t keep well and crush easily.
How To Find Wild Strawberries
- Wild strawberries ripen from May to October, depending on your region’s specifics.
- Look for well-drained areas that have lots of open places for them to grow with at least some sun exposure.
- Check along hillsides, on sloping areas, along hedgerows or fences, in fields, open meadows and open forests.
- Learn to ID wild strawberries from above as the small red fruit might be hiding underneath green foliage – kids can get to ground level occasionally to spot the tell-tale red spots!
- On his foraging website Eat The Weeds, Green Deane describes the plant as a small plant with five-petaled white flowers, leaves of three, toothed (poison ivy usually does not have fine teeth.) Blossoms to an inch across, on separate stalks; familiar fruit drooping, small. Ten small green sepals at the base of the fruit.
Ready for your wild strawberry hike? A last word before you go, regarding the poem above. The English Great War poet, Robert Graves, cherished seasonal cycles and loved nature. Back from WW1, he took to cycling the then quiet county roads of the Oxford countryside, crisscrossed by rivers, fields and streams. Inspired by the natural bounty of early summer, he penned this famous poem about wild strawberries.
Such an ode to wild food is well worth a family hike, don’t you think?
Build a Strawberry Moon Stick Raft
Sticks are a lot of fun and extremely versatile. Can your kids build a raft strong enough to float strawberries on water on the night of the strawberry moon? This activity is inspired by a raft-building Cub Scout challenge. As far as materials, you will need:
- Sticks – 10 to 12 per raft, depending on size. You can gather them either as part of the game, or ahead of time.
- Twine or string
- Bucket of water
- Build stick rafts following the drawing above, at least the size of your hand or bigger. Use twine or string to attach the sticks together and don’t forget to tie knots between each stick.
- Fill the bucket with water and get the kids to float their raft.
- How many strawberries can float on each raft? If the strawberries stay afloat, your kids can eat them. If not, they can be dried off and used by another group, though you may want a bowl of “spares” to avoid multiple hands touching the berries.
Go for a Strawberry Moon Paddle & Camping Trip
To celebrate the Strawberry Moon in Algonquin style, why not go for a paddle? Here are the various water activities that you can join with your kids to celebrate this special moon:
- Whitewater rafting
- Stand-up paddleboarding
For a full Strawberry Moon canoe experience, you can even find a paddle-in campsite and go camping with your canoe under the Strawberry Moon! You can find paddle-in campsites in many places by Googling “paddle in campsite,” “canoe/kayak in campsite” or “boat in campsite.” However to get you started, here are a few easy resources that might inspire your family adventures:
- Paddling in Ontario
- Canoe trail in North Carolina
- Canoe camping in Oregon
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota
- Canoe trails (and wild camping) in Scotland
- Canoe and camp in Finland
Free Unit Study Resources on Strawberries
- Find the Letter: S is for Strawberries from 3 Boys and a Dog
- Strawberries Nature Study from The Usual Mayhem
- Fun & Easy Strawberry Paper Craft with Handprint Stem from Crafty Mama in ME
- Strawberry Number Recognition Free Printable from Something 2 Offer
- How To Make Strawberry Shortcake from Tales of Education at Home
- Strawberry Picking Sight Word Games from Books and Giggles
- Strawberry Friends Printable Student Planner Free Pages from Look! We’re Learning!
- S is for Strawberry Letter Maze from Simple Fun for Kids
- How to Make Strawberry Lemonade from The Jenny Evolution
- Preschool Strawberry Math from Schooling a Monkey