It seems like our days are busier than ever lately but I’m finally getting a chance to catch up on the blog and share some of the great books we’ve been reading! One of those great books is Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. This served as a perfect backdrop to our week leading up the Thanksgiving a few weeks ago.
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Read the Book
As with all of the Five in a Row books, our week started and ended with reading the book itself. It is a cute story about Maggie and her grandmother, who each year invite a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner. When her grandmother is unhappy with Maggie’s choice of inviting the unsavory Mr. Whiskers, she assumes he is out to steal her famous cranberry bread recipe. However, things take an entertaining turn and provide a fun book that we all enjoyed.
For our discussions about geography this week, we didn’t have to look any further than our own backyard. The book takes place in New England and since we have the pleasure of living in New England ourselves, we could relate to all the pictures and descriptions found in the book. By us, fall was in full swing. We talked about the seasons and the changes we were seeing on the trees and leaves this time of year.
The book revolves around grandmother’s famous cranberry bread so naturally most of our activities also revolved around cranberries! We started by watching a video of how cranberries are grown and harvested. A few weeks beforehand, we had seen a cranberry bog up close so the video was a great way to put it all together. If you haven’t seen a bog during harvest, it is fascinating to watch. When it’s time to harvest the cranberries, they flood the entire bog and the berries that are ready to be picked just bubble to the top. Kids and adults are likewise intrigued by it. I’d recommend this one:
After watching the video, the kids made their own cranberry bogs. It is a super easy activity that can provide endless entertainment for kids while giving them a hands on way to remember what they watched. To make your own cranberry bog, all you need is a bowl or dish, lots of fresh cranberries and water.
M “planted” her cranberries by filling the baking dish until the entire bottom was covered. She then declared it harvest time and flooded her bog with a large glass of water. Once the cranberries floated to the top, she “harvested” them by scooping them out of the water. She repeated this process multiple times just for fun.
Math and Science
We also discussed why cranberries float – they have a pocket of air in the center that causes them to be buoyant. We cut one open to see the air pockets for ourselves.
Since we had so many fresh cranberries in the house, it was the perfect math manipulative for the week. I took out a large bowl of cranberries on more than one occasion and the kids took turn counting berries. J was working on counting 1 – 10 with his berries, while M worked on simple counting as well as groupings of 5 and 10 cranberries each, which I used to gently introduce the concept of multiplication.
For more fun with the cranberries, we had a taste test. We had all eaten cranberries when baked into other dished but no one had tried fresh cranberries before. The kids were eager to eat them but quickly learned that this was one berry they did not like! The extreme tartness threw them completely off, it was pretty funny to see.
We couldn’t have a week with this book without making Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread ourselves. At the end of the book, they give you the recipe to make the bread so one afternoon while the boys were napping, M and I whipped up a loaf. It was delicious although calling it bread is generous. It is more like cake but that’s fine with me! We liked it so much we decided to make 3 loaves of it to bring to Thanksgiving dinner to share with our family.
Throughout the week, M worked on the lap book that corresponds with this book. Although this week it served more for busywork than anything else.
Since Thanksgiving was only a week away and the book revolved around it, we talked about the first thanksgiving, why it took place and who was there. We used a few great books that I had taken from the library to learn more about it. I made sure to include some just for fun Thanksgiving books as well. A few suggestions would be:
The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross
Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano
God Gave Us Thankful Hearts by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Our talks about Thanksgiving lead naturally into conversations about being thankful and we spent lots of time this week talking about how much we have to be thankful. After dinner one night, we went around the table and each named things we were thankful for. To get the kids to broaden their list, I made a rule that no one’s answer could be “toys” 🙂
For another idea to help your kids count their blessings, why not make a Tree of Thanks?
This was a great book and I would highly recommend it for any family – thanksgiving week or not!