Strawberry shortcake.

Strawberry Shortcake Dessert

Muriel Fahrion, an illustrator for American Greetings, a greeting card company, designed the Strawberry Shortcake character in 1977.

It became popular in the early 1980s, leading Fahrion to invent the Strawberry Shortcake doll. Sticker albums, clothing, a video game and television specials followed closely behind.

If my granddaughter is any example, Strawberry Shortcake’s appeal has not faded.

On a recent visit, she brought a copy of the Strawberry Shortcake book, The Sweet Treats Carnival.

In this book, half a dozen of the Strawberry Shortcake characters put on a carnival for each other. Each creates a game for the others to play and offers a prize to the winner.

Your grandchildren could do the same thing. They could do it for fun in the back yard with their friends. They could do it to raise money for their Money Savvy piggy banks.

They could do it for a good cause, much like Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

We only put together one game. But, it was interesting watching a five-year-old work through the process of figuring out how to make a fishing game work.

I got out a straw for the pole, some string for the fishing line, a bowl to fish out of, some paper, scissors and tape.

My granddaughter cut out fish, tied the string to the straw and put tape, sticky side out, on the end of the string.

Then, we went fishing.

In the book, the characters caught up to eight fish. Our fish were so big we could only catch one.

Answer. My granddaughter estimated the size the fish would have to be for us to catch eight also and cut them down to size.

She added several more strips of tape to the string and voila! She caught eight on the next try.

Similar experiments could produce a basketball game (a laundry basket on a stool and beach ball will do for a start), a milk bottle game (stacked oatmeal boxes would work), and ring toss (we tried a candle stick and the rings from quart jar lids. This will take more experimenting).

When I was little, my father made us a beanbag toss game. He painted a 2-foot by 3-foot piece of plywood with a clown. He attached a dowel stick to the back, with a string, to prop up the board.

The clown’s eyes, hands and buttons had holes cut in them, with points scored painted next to them. My Mom made the beanbags we tossed.

Children came from all over the neighborhood to play.

And, there’s always the famous Guess the Number of Something in a Jar.

Jelly beans. Buttons, Shells picked up from the beach this summer.

You could decide to ask everyone who visits for the next week or month what their guess is. And, ask them what their strategy is for picking that number, with a suitable prize announced from the beginning.

Write down everyone’s guess and strategy.

I am told that Microsoft used to ask prospective job candidates how many manhole covers there are in the United States, or how many pianos or how many grains of sand on the beaches of the United States.

Then, they asked them how they came up with their estimate.

Because, it is coming up with a strategy for breaking a problem down into reasonable pieces that helps children learn how to solve problems.

Even if they get the wrong answer. Even if the answer is unknowable.

And, you thought Strawberry Shortcake was just a cute doll.

To you and the grandchildren you adore.

Carol Covin, “Granny-Guru”

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

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