Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cranberry Thanksgiving

For the last week and a half, we have been snuggling up and reading Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. Readers peek into the lives of Maggie and her grandmother, who live on a lonely cranberry bog in New England. On Thanksgiving Day, Mr. Whiskers, a furry and foul-smelling but generally nice friend, helps Maggie gather firewood while Grandmother bakes her famous cranberry bread, all while suspecting that Mr. Whiskers intends to steal the recipe. This is a story of simple farm life, warm holiday traditions, and the importance of character. We all learn (and re-learn!) by the end of the story, not to judge a book by its cover.

Cranberry Thanksgiving is a Five in a Row: Volume 1 selection.

Aidyn and I loved reading this little gem from the 70s. Here's what we covered:

Social Studies: Geography - New England

We talked about how this story is set in New England on a cranberry farm. After coloring the story disk, Aidyn went to his world map in search of New England. I prompted him to recall the Mayflower and what we learned last week about the pilgrims before asking, "Now where do you think New England is?" Luckily he plopped it in the right spot and even theorized why they named it New England.

Social Studies: History - Thanksgiving

The previous week, we had learned about the pilgrim's journey on the Mayflower. He colored in this picture of the crossing of the Mayflower from Enchanted Learning. We also watched some videos, including The Mayflower Voyagers (This Is America, Charlie Brown) [VHS].

You can see it on Youtube here.

We also read Gail Gibbon's Thanksgiving Day and talked about current Thanksgiving traditions.

Social Studies: Relationships

On another day, after reading Cranberry Thanksgiving, we talked about the special relationship Maggie has with her grandmother. Then Aidyn, with help, made a Grandmother Book with facts and stories all about his "Branny," with whom he has a very close and special relationship.

Math: Estimation

On the weekend, we read the book in the morning and did some fun math and science activities.

I brought out a 12 oz. bag of cranberries and a strainer. First I asked Aidyn to estimate how many cranberries were in the bag. He held it, squished it, and tossed it around before proclaiming that there must be "100 billion cranberries" inside. I taught him how to scale back that number and come up with a realistic estimate and how our guesses of estimation are rarely correct. The goal is just to get close. He still insisted on guessing 800.

I want to say "painstakingly," but we really had fun counting all 304 cranberries! Aidyn was only 500 off, but I think he learned about over-estimating, for sure.

He's also in Chapter 8 of his Houghton Mifflin California Math book. He's a pro at adding and subtracting single digits now. Yesterday we played Minus Maze, a board game where players solve subtraction problems in order to move their pieces. We played twice with Aidyn winning once and me winning once.

Science: Buoyancy and Bounce!

Right after estimating the cranberries, I asked Aidyn if they would sink or float. I hoped that he remembered we had watched How It's Made: Cranberries on Netflix, in which they show a cranberry bog!

He guessed, "float," so we made a mini-bog in a bowl and found that they do float!

The next experiment was to see how high they bounce. We pulled out our tape measure and launched those berries to the ground. The poor things barely bounced more than 18 inches at most, and that was mostly due to how hard we threw them. On their own, they probably bounced a whole 2 inches.


Still, it was fun!

Cooking 101: Cranberry Bread with Fresh Orange Juice and Zest

After talking about after 10 days, we finally made Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread, the recipe at the back of the book!

Aidyn helped chop cranberries, juice 3 oranges in the juicer, and crack and beat the egg. He also licked a spoon or two. In the end, we got a fresh loaf of citrusy, tangy cranberry bread, and it was delicious!

Non-FIAR activities:

At Aidyn's K-2 Art class, we've been busy making Indian Corn and a Teepee and an autumnal landscape scene.

He's been busy at his other art class, and only yesterday brought home a beautiful watercolor painting.

He's been perfecting his karate skills once a week and loves it! He has said that he would like to remain in karate and earn a black belt.

When it's not raining and pouring outside, he plays with his friends outdoors, making forts and building Legos.

Phonics and Reading:

He has mastered CVC words and is working on long vowels (CVCV words) and '-ai-' and '-ay' words, as well as a handful of new sight words.

His reading has become much more fluid, and his understanding of what he's read is sharp. I usually ask for oral narrations after he's read a story to check his comprehension.

We have been gently "testing" him on things we've covered during this first trimester. Surprisingly enough, he loves testing (probably because he's never had to take a test in public school!).

We had such a great time with Cranberry Thanksgiving. Next up for us is a virtual trip up north with Very Last First Time. Check back next week to see what we did!

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