Thursday 24 November 2011

Cranberry thanksgiving

I am a bit hesitant to write about this book so have the caveat first-I'm English not American. Having said that, I am writing about Cranberry thanksgiving because the children, and I, have all learnt so much from it. I love it when I learn from the children's books and the Five in a Row books often bring up things that I hadn't known before.

Cranberry thanksgiving, by Wende and Harry Devlin, is the story of a girl who lives with her grandmother on a cranberry farm. Each Thanksgiving Day, they each invite a visitor to eat the meal including Grandmother's famous cranberry bread, made from a secret recipe. The guests this year are the smooth Mr Horace and the rougher, old sea captain, Mr Whiskers. An attempt is made to steal the famous recipe and it turns out that things are not as they seem.
Geography: We found New England on the world map. I have been fascinated to learn about cranberry bogs and the harvesting of cranberries-something that I knew nothing about before last week. We watched a video about harvesting and looked at the four air sacs in the cranberries which enable them to float.

Bible: This story has such a strong link to Samuel being sent to anoint David in 1 Samuel chapter 16. We have talked about "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." and read about David's anointing.

History: I was brought up on the old Ladybird history books and we have a little collection. This week was the turn of the Pilgrim Fathers.
The children acted out the story of the Mayflower and the arrival in the New World-they loved this.

Science: I was inspired by Almost Unschoolers to use the anthocyanin iin cranberries as a pH indicator using vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. It worked well although I didn't take photos as we used very small quantities of my rather precious cranberries. The photos on Almost Unschoolers show their results beautifully. Of course, we had to add the vinegar to the sodium bicarbonate and see what happened. 

A first introduction to the concept of acids and alkalis although Miss Belle and Mr Exuberance had seen what happens when they are added together in various volcano experiments before.

Maths: We had to make cranberry bread. This introduced the concept of  recipes which use volume measurements rather than the weight measurements that are more familiar in the UK.

Language: It was appropriate to read books about thankfulness and blessings alongside Cranberry Thanksgiving.
We  read the beautiful illustrated Psalm 103 by Johannah Bluedorn.

and Count your blessings by Jeane Cabral. This is a counting book with magnets to add to each page.

Lastly, we had a turkey Thanksgiving dinner along with our cranberry bread.
 Hopefully, some happy memories and learning for this book.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, especially to my American readers! 

This is linked to Mouse grows, Mouse learns.


  1. Wow, I love all the activities you did! I have that book and have read it to my children several times, but we never have tried the cranberry bread. My son brought the book to me a few days ago and asked if we could make it sometime--will have to try it! And Happy Thanksgiving to you...from one of your American readers in England. : )

  2. Cranberry Thanksgiving was in our home library when I was a child and I am thankful to share it with my own children. We have been enjoying lots of cranberries here lately. I buy them reduced after the holidays and freeze them. We've been eating last years! So neat that you are learning about some American history and culture!

  3. Debbie-the bread was really popular with the slightly older members of the family. The little ones weren't quite so sure still they liked making it.

  4. Anita-great way to buy cranberries. There were some in the supermarkets here so will have to look to see if there are any reduced! We are enjoying learning about American culture.