Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cranberry Thanksgiving

This autumn, I have been using some Five in a Row books to read and spark activities for a home education group we attend.

This time, we read Cranberry Thanksgiving
which I was able to borrow from the local home education library. This seems a strange choice for English home educators but it is a book that has been a favourite with my children and covers topics that are relevant today.

We talked about the Pilgrim Fathers, religious freedom and how non-conformists had to meet before the 1688 Act of Toleration.

We talked about cranberries and how they are harvested. We cut one open to look at the air sacs
and floated them.
Some people even tasted them.

Using some cranberry juice that I had boiled before, the reaction with vinegar, lemon and sodium bicarbonate was explored. Cranberries contain anthrocyanins which change colour with pH. This is very similar to the well known red cabbage pH indicator activity. Red cabbage also contains anthrocyanins. 
 In the photo, the saucer at the back has had sodium bicarbonate added, that on the left vinegar and the saucer on the right is a control. 
The photograph doesn't show the bubbling when sodium bicarbonate was added to the cranberries. Cranberries are presumably acidic and when sodium bicarbonate is added carbon dioxide is released. I didn't do the test for carbon dioxide. Supporting the acidity of cranberries is their bright red colour. Anthrocyanins are red in acidic conditions and interestingly, cranberries only grow in acidic soil.

The book has some silhouettes. The children used black card to make silhouettes of their own design, stuck them on white card and used either felt tip pens or oil pastels to colour the background. Trees were rather popular.

Of course, there was cranberry loaf from the secret recipe, at the end of the book, to sample. I must say that this was more popular with adults than children!

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