Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cranberry Thanksgiving--a quick FIAR unit

Delightful Learning

Alexander is 4 years 11 months old

I just love this book, Cranberry Thanksgiving, but I've got to give myself more time to row it someday! This is the 2nd time we've rowed it just before Thanksgiving, so we didn't get to do nearly as much as I'd like because I just don't give it enough time!

If you aren't familiar with the story, it is about a girl named Maggie and her grandmother. They each invite a friend over for Thanksgiving dinner, but Grandmother is afraid that Maggie's guest will try to steal her famous cranberry bread recipe. It is a sweet story with a twist, and we all just love Mr. Whiskers.

Day 1:

We started out this row at our co-op. I read it to my little Core Jr. class (which Alex is in), and they did really well with this story. I wasn't sure how they'd do as a group with this longer story. Especially since it was a group of very active little boys. I'd say it was a success!

First, we did a dancing craisins science experiment with craisins in Sprite. The boys loved this. I wish I would have gotten a picture of it. The craisins really danced! Try it, just put some craisins in Sprite or 7up and watch them go up and down.

Then, they all made some popcorn and cranberry garlands. I was amazed again how much they loved this activity. I was prepared for them to spend only a few minutes as it is a class of 4 and 5 year-olds. But, they blew me and my helper away by filling up their whole string! (most of them) It turned out to be such a great activity for all those boys.


I even made one! I don't have a tree to put it on yet though, so it sits on our school book shelves for now.


Day 2:

We read the book at home over breakfast. I read it to all the boys because they all enjoy this story, and I hope they continue to each year at Thanksgiving time. I think they will.

Then, I got out some cornstarch to play with, and added a little red food coloring to give it a cranberry feel. Why cornstarch? Well, Mr. Horace (Grandmother's guest) is described as "pink-cheeked and starched". We talked about what starch does when I use it to iron clothes, and why that word might have been used to describe him.


Then, later in the story it says:
 "All the starch seemed to leave Mr. Horace."
 So, we had fun playing with cornstarch and water, and watched how it melted through the fingers. Kinda like Mr. Horace was!


 Day 3:

I came across this Hodgepodge Cranberry Thanksgiving chalk art tutorial, and you all might know how much I love chalk pastel art. I just had to try this one.

So, I started out with tracing paper because this project is all about re-creating this page with the silhouette of them eating pie by the fire. I traced around the black figures so that I could make a copy for each boy that wanted to do this project.


 Here is a lovely picture of me tracing. Yes, still in PJ's, so I'm not looking the greatest. But, I wanted to post this picture to show how I got the images. My hand got tired!


This is mine. I only put it first to give you an idea of what the picture was 'supposed' to turn out like.
That's not to say that my boys did anything wrong. They took this project and did their best and that is all I hope for. I want them to make each art project they do their own, and that is exactly what each boy did.


Alex loved the black part. In fact, he loved it so much that he covered everything in black! Even his hands and arms! Yes, I definitely recommend having wipes handy, and he went straight to the bath after this one. He was very proud of his coloring!


This is Aric's. He really tried, and was so close. This project was a little bit harder, so I feel like this was a really good effort on his part.


This is Aaron's. He asked if he could create his own silhouette. Of course, it was a fish. He also used oil pastels. Chalk pastels frustrate him because they are so messy.


 And, of course, darkness by Aric :)


Our art hanging up. I always love seeing art displayed in our dining room!


Day 3

I printed up the counting cranberries in a bag page from Homeschool Share's printables for Cranberry Thanksgiving. I gave Aric a bag of cranberries to explore. He had to estimate how many were in the bag, and then count them up. He spent quite a while trying to figure out the best method of counting so many berries.


 It took a lot of tries before he was ready to give up. I think he started over several times, and just couldn't come up with a good way.


He didn't want my help until then. Finally, I sat down and suggested maybe doing groups of 10 in each bowl, and we had 10 bowls. So, if each bowl had 10 that would be a hundred berries counted up really fast. Once he figured that out he was on a roll. He wrote it up on the back of his paper in an equation, it was pretty neat to see him take off once he figured it out.


After he was done, and figured out he had 406 cranberries in the bag, he was onto the next part. Now he had to figure out of the cranberries would sink or float. Of course, he already knew the answer to this question, but he had fun making a cranberry bog anyway.


He played with them for a little bit. Then we were supposed to measure the bouncing height of the cranberries but we didn't get to that part. 


I never got a picture of Alex playing in the cranberry bog, but he sure did. He even made a bog "storm" and that was the end of that playing!


We have been doing some other thanksgiving activities that aren't necessarily related directly to the book, but I thought I'd include them here. We started this Thanksgiving Jar. The kids get to draw a thing each day to be thankful for and an activity or suggestion of something they can do to help them remember to be thankful. Great reminders for little ones! It's a Thanks and Giving Countdown.

We've also been reading some other great Thanksgiving books. I don't have a picture of all our books but I have some book lists and other ideas pinned here on my Thanksgiving pinterest page:

Follow Desiree's board thanksgiving fun on Pinterest.

If you'd like to see our previous row from a few years ago, click on this link.


  1. Very good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need.


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