FIAR – Cranberry Thanksgiving

I’m getting behind on my FIAR posts!  We had a busy week last week, celebrating birthdays and Thanksgiving, having a party for the kiddos and hosting family in our home.  Since I knew it was going to be so busy I purposefully didn’t plan anything for school; it worked out nicely but it was a bit of a challenge getting back into the groove this week.

I saved Cranberry Thanksgiving for the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  It was a really cute story and I was intrigued when I learned there are lots of other Cranberry stories by the same author to go along with the different holidays.

We love cranberries in our household!  I always nab them when they show up in the stores and put them in the freezer, turning them into homemade (healthified) cranberry sauce, cranberry bread and cranberry pancakes (with a few chocolate chips thrown in, too!).  I love that I don’t have to thaw them beforehand if I don’t want to.

Geography/History/Social Studies
The story takes place on a cranberry farm, and since cranberry bogs are located in New England, Gwen located the appropriate states on a US map and colored them in.  We’ve talked about New England States before, and I reminded her of some of the other foods that come from the area – namely apples and maple syrup, which we learned about during out How to Make An Apple Pie and See the World week.

We read a simple book about cranberries, how they’re grown and harvested.  We looked at some online pictures of an actual cranberry bog and Gwen put together a little minibook on cranberries to reinforce the lesson.

One of the neat lessons in the story is not to be fooled by appearances; I explained the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  One of the characters in the story looks polished and smells nice, but he ends up not being such a nice person.  On the flipside, the slightly smelly and not-so-polished character is the one that turns out to be the “good guy.”  To demonstrate this concept, I came up with a simple idea – put something good in a crumpled up brown paper bag and something less desirable in a pretty container.  The kiddos went right for the pretty container of course and were delighted to find that the paper bag held the treats instead.

Since we were also focusing on the holiday of Thanksgiving itself, we read about the first Thanksgiving – actually called a harvest celebration, which they only celebrated once as opposed to every year.  We talked about the Pilgrims and the Indians, their trip from England to Plymouth Rock, and their first year getting used to the new land.  In addition to reading some stories, Gwen put together timeline cards and we did a neat online interactive activity which had interesting tidbits of information.

We talked about traditions in general, and what Thanksgiving traditions we have.  We compared this to the first Thanksgiving and noted that some of the things that have been passed down – like having cranberry sauce and all sorts of desserts – probably weren’t even present at the first celebration.

Language Arts
When we read the story again we pointed out all the sound words and sang and did the motions to our onomatopoeia song.  We also discussed descriptive words – like one of the characters smelling of “lavender” and another smelling of “seaweed.”

Fine Arts
I really wanted to do some sort of canvas silhouette to mimic one of the illustrations in the book, but instead settled for taking a picture of Gwen’s profile against a bright window so I could explain her profile.

We did a couple of crafts, including some toilet paper tube turkeys and q-tip paintings.  The kiddos especially enjoyed the q-tip paintings, and they seemed to get the idea but decided to use the tips as paintbrushes instead of pressing them gently to the paper.  Oh well.

Math (& Phonics)
I used an assortment of printables from last year’s Thanksgiving week, including some beginning sound and number clip cards, number puzzle, syllable counting and two-part vocab words (which the kids had to find around the room and match together).

We did a fun – but a bit time-consuming for the littles – popcorn estimation activity.  Maybe if the pictures had been a bit smaller there wouldn’t have been as much counting; Daddy ended up doing most of it but the kiddos helped.  Afterwards we mixed the corn kernels up with some oil and salt and tried microwave popcorn in a brown paper bag.  It was a huge success, but I need to play around with the amounts.

We were so excited to make Grandma’s Famous Cranberry Bread from the story, and the kiddos helped me measure the ingredients.  We talked about how  bags of cranberries may weigh the same, but because they are all different sizes they may have more or less berries.  Then we discovered whether or not cranberries sink or float – which brought us back around to how cranberry bogs are flooded so the cranberries float to the top to be more easily harvested.

Daddy helped us do a fun baking soda bomb experiment, which was fun for all of us.  I related it to making the cranberry bread and explained how baking soda reacts with the other ingredients and helps the bread rise and get puffy.  By the way, the cranberry bread is really good! I changed it up just a bit and it was perfect, definitely a keeper.  Here’s my version:

Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread
2c white wheat flour
1/2c rapadura sugar
1 1/2t baking powder
1t salt
1/2t baking soda
1/4c coconut oil
1 egg, beaten
1t grated orange peel
3/4c orange juice
1c golden raisins
2c frozen cranberries

1. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a large bowl.  Cut in coconut oil until mixture is crumbly.  Add egg, orange peel and orange juice all at once; stir just until mixture is evenly moist.  Fold in raisins and cranberries.

2.  Spoon into a greased 8 or 9″ square pan.  Bake at 350 till golden and toothpick comes out clean (the recipe calls for it to be baked for over an hour in a loaf pan, so using a square pan cut down in the time – maybe 30 minutes?).  

Go-Along Books
Thanksgiving – What Makes It Special?
Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks
A Pioneer Thanksgiving: a story of harvest celebrations in 1841
If You Were At the First Thanksgiving

Homeschool Share’s Cranberry Thanksgiving resources
Royal Ruby Cranberries’ cranberry bog photo tour
Plimouth Plantation’s interactive exploration of the first thanksgiving
Welcome to Room 36’s onomatopoeia song printable
toilet paper tube turkey inspiration
q-tip painting inspiration
The First Grade Parade’s popcorn estimation
little epiphanies plain brown popper popcorn recipe
E is for Explore’s baking soda bomb

*See my Five in a Row (FIAR) Pinterest board for more inspiration.