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Hello, November! Thanksgiving is right around the corner.
This is the perfect time of year to teach your kids about gratitude and kindness. And the best way (in my opinion) to teach character attributes is through good literature. So grab this book and cuddle your kiddos up with you in a cozy blanket and enjoy this story time!
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin, is the story of Maggie and her grandmother, who live near a cranberry bog in New England. Grandma is famous for her delicious cranberry bread, and she always carefully hides the recipe away behind a brick above her kitchen stove.
Every year Grandmother invited a guest for Thanksgiving dinner and allowed Maggie to do the same. “Ask someone poor or lonely,” she always said. Thanksgiving was Grandmother’s favorite day of the year. The cooking was done and her famous cranberry bread was cooling on a wooden board.
But she wasn’t happy to find out Maggie had invited the unsavory Mr. Whiskers to dinner. Would her secret cranberry bread recipe be safe with him in the house?
The end of this heartwarming and delightful story will have you wiping tears from your eyes, as grandma learns a few lessons from Maggie and Mr. Whiskers.
Now that you’ve finished reading Cranberry Thanksgiving aloud, it’s time to make a treat! If you double the recipe, you’ll have a treat to share with someone as wonderful as Mr. Whiskers in your own life.
Literature Activity: Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread
We love to make this Cranberry Bread recipe from the back of the book each time we read it. We substitute white chocolate chips for the raisins, and it is scrumptious!
Fresh orange juice and tangy cranberries make this super-moist bread a family favorite.
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup butter, very cold
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 tsp grated orange peel
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 2 cups fresh cranberries, very coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins (We substitute white chocolate chips)
- 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped (We substitute chopped pecans)
- Butter or lightly spray a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
- Sift together into large bowl flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- Slice butter into 1/4 inch cubes; Cut butter into flour mixture until it is crumbly.
- Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice; stir briefly until just mixed.
- Gently fold in cranberries, and walnuts and/or raisins, if desired.
- Bake at 350F for 1hr and 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.
Makes one delicious loaf.
Next time, I’m going to have to quadruple this recipe, because my family gobbled up these two loaves lickety-split, and I was hoping to have some yummy cranberry bread to share with my neighbors. Luckily, I still have a bag of fresh cranberries in my fridge!
Literature Activity: Cranberry Science
Let’s learn all about cranberries! You’ll need a bag of fresh cranberries and some cranberry juice.
Cranberries are amazing! Cranberries are probably best known for their role in preventing urinary tract infections. They are considered a superfood due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content. They are thought to prevent certain types of cancer and improve immune function.
Cranberries are native to North America. They are farmed on approximately 40,000 acres across the northern United States and Canada. Cranberries are low, evergreen shrubs. The fruit is a berry larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially light green, turning red when ripe. It is edible, but with an acidic taste that usually overwhelms its sweetness.
Each berry take TWO YEARS to grow! Each cranberry shrub had nearly mature berries right alongside cranberry blossoms, waiting to become cranberries.
Cranberry farmers flood their fields over the winter, covering each plant entirely, to preserve the berries against freezing. The video below shows the interesting way cranberries are harvested.
Cranberry Experiment: Use cranberries to determine acids and bases
You might want to print a free ‘Scientific Method’ worksheet before beginning.
First, we inspected the berries. We talked about characteristics of fruit: the seeds are on the inside (except strawberries) and surrounded by pulp. We speculated that the inside of the berry would contain air pockets, because they floated. Ta-da! There are air pockets surrounding the seeds in the middle of each berry. There are multiple, tiny seeds.
Cranberries contain a special, color-changing pigment called anthocyanins that we can use to test whether something is an acid or a base. In this activity, we will use cranberry juice to identify acids and bases and to observe the chemical reactions created when you mix the two. Who knew that cranberries were so much more than a Thanksgiving side?
We noticed that the color of the cranberry juice changed with each substance. The baking soda made the juice dark brown, (my kids wanted to prank their dad and tell him it was root beer) whereas the lemon juice made it lighter. This happened because the anthocyanins change color, depending on whether they’re reacting with an acid or a base. They act as a pH indicator.
When we added baking soda to the cranberry juice, a reaction took place that released a gas, which creates bubbles in the juice. Baking soda is a base, therefore when it comes in contact with an acid like cranberry juice, a reaction occurs. But when the liquid is pH neutral, like water, no reaction occurs.
Aren’t cranberries interesting?
Looking for a few more wonderful Thanksgiving books to share with your kiddos?
And if you want a full-blown Thanksgiving Unit Study, covering all the subjects from art to science, with a fun Thanksgiving-themed twist, check this one out: Thanksgiving Unit Study
Thank you for joining us today as we read ‘Cranberry Thanksgiving’! I hope you enjoyed storytime as much as we did! Check out my other fun storytime selections, each with amazing educational activities, fun (and easy!) crafts and yummy snacks.