Monday, December 7, 2015

Rowing Cranberry Thanksgiving {FIAR}

Cranberry Thanksgiving has always been one of my very favorite picture books.  It's about a girl and her grandmother who live on a cranberry farm and have a rather adventurous Thanksgiving. I love the setting, the illustrations, and the unique story. Grandmother has a secret recipe for cranberry bread that she keeps safely tucked away in her big old least, she thinks it is safe! The book includes the "secret" recipe, which does indeed make a wonderful cranberry bread - we make it every November. 

Here's what we did!

*Social Studies*

  • This book takes place at the edge of a cranberry bog - such a unique setting! We discussed where cranberries grow and how they grow. We had the good fortune of actually driving by some cranberry bogs recently, so we reminisced about that. 
  • We watched a short video about harvesting cranberries. 
  • Inspired by the manual, we discussed disagreeable people - like Mr. Horace! We also talked about nicknames and the perils of judging people by their appearance. Grandmother assumes that Mr. Horace is a better person than Mr. Whiskers, simply because he dresses better. 

*Language Arts*

  • I asked her to describe the setting of the story to me, which is stated on the very first page: "She and her grandmother lived at the edge of a lonely cranberry bog in New England, and the winds were cold at the edge of the sea."
  • We used the manual to discuss poetic prose and onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia keeps showing up in our FIAR stories and it is fun to review it each time. In this case, we see it in the "crash clumpity" of the scuffle at the climax of the story. 
  • The manual brought up the unique layout of the manuscript - how the text is sometimes at the top of the page and sometimes at the bottom. I would not have noticed this myself, and I love that FIAR points that sort of thing out. I had Rose go through the book and find the text on each page, so she could see the variety for herself.
  • We went over the vocabulary words in the manual.
  • We discussed the elements of a good story...the rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, and identified these elements in Cranberry Thanksgiving.
  • We did the similes exercise suggested in the manual. She thought of them, I wrote them down. Excuse my messy handwriting!


  • One the illustrations in the story is a partial view of Maggie peeking out of the kitchen door.


 So Rose made a drawing of her stuffed cat peeking out from behind a book.


  • We flipped back and forth between the daytime scene at the house and the nighttime scene, to see how they were done differently. She discoverd that the nighttime scene has more purple and the windows are colored yellow, making everything look darker.


  • I had planned to try to do a silhouette of her but she had little interest, so we skipped that for now.  We did take a few minutes to admire the silhouettes in the story.


  • The plan was to discuss measuring while making cranberry bread, but Rose got interested in something else halfway through, so I mostly made the bread by myself. We had it for breakfast Thanksgiving morning and it was very good.  The recipe is online here. We never use the raisins in it, just cranberries. 


  • We had a short discussion about what starch is because "All the starch seemed to leave Mr. Horace."
  • We also briefly discussed the purpose of baking soda and what it does for the cranberry bread. 

*More Fun*

  • We made the corn pudding from the FIAR cookbook one Sunday and everyone really enjoyed it!

Notes on our next row

 I had originally planned to row Papa Piccolo next, but with Christmas approaching so quickly,  I have decided that Rose and I will focus on reading Christmas books this month. Papa Piccolo will be the first book we row in January.


  1. Thank you so much for linking to the Cranberry Thanksgiving cranberry bread recipe. After reading your recent email newsletter I had requested Cranberry Thanksgiving from the library, and we loved the story but the recipe was missing. I was just re-reading the email and followed the link here, and voila--a link to the recipe. My daughter will be excited too!

  2. Glad it was helpful, we just made the recipe ourselves this week- it's still a favorite!


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