I’ve already given you a sneak peek of our Blueberries For Sal week with posts about our blueberry picking field trip, baking a blueberry pie, and making a blueberry julius. It’s taken a while for me to get to the rest of it, but here’s the post on what else we did to go along with the book!
First, a bit of background on the story. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is one of my favorite books from the entire Before Five In A Row reading list. We check out most of the books from the library, but this one we’ve owned before we even started with BFIAR. I love everything about it- the blue-black art (it won a Caldecott honor for the illustrations), the choice of descriptive words, and of course- the story!
It’s about a little girl named Sal who goes with her mother out to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries so that they’d have food to can for the winter. At the same time, a mother bear and her cub are also out on the hill eating blueberries so they’d have food stored up for the winter. How differently bears and people store their food!
As the moms work away at gathering and eating berries, the young’uns somehow get switched up- now Little Sal is with the mother bear and the cub is with Little Sal’s mom! The lost children are not afraid about being with parents of a strange species. The parents, on the other hand, are concerned. Two lines of the book that made me smile:
Describing the mother bear, “She was old enough to be shy of people, even a very small person like Little Sal.”
Describing Little Sal’s mom, “She was old enough to be shy of bears, even very small bears like Little Bear.”
By the end of the book, everyone goes home with the right mother.
This is one of those timeless classics that should be on the bookshelf of every serious lover of children’s literature.
Creating blueberry bushes with leaf confetti and blue paint on wine corks.
10 Blueberries For Sal Activities
1) Blueberries For Sal Felt Board
We started the week with the felt board I’d made for our 5 Little Monkeys birthday theme. This time, I made a scene to represent the events that took place on Blueberry Hill.
I scribbled sketches of Little Sal, her mom, the mother bear, and her cub on white felt.
I cut out these characters as well as green bushes to make the scene.
I pulled out all the blue pom-poms we had and stuck them onto the green bushes. They stayed on easily. Rocket helped me “pick” them and collect them in a “pail” for Sal.
He also fed blueberries to the different characters!
We acted out the scenes from the book by switching up Little Sal and the cub when they got lost.
We also moved the human characters off of the board and to their “home” on the carpet, where they counted the blueberries they’d picked off the bushes.
2) Blueberry Picking
Click the picture above to read about our blueberry picking adventure at Bryant’s Blueberries, a pick-your-own farm in Southern Indiana.
3) Blueberry Bush Craft
The top blueberry bush was created by Rocket’s cousin, J. The bottom bush was created by Rocket.
The supplies for this craft included: bushes I’d cut out of green construction paper, white glue, green leaf confetti, wine corks (for dot painting), and blue paint.
First, they glued green leaves onto their bushes.
Then they dipped the wine corks into blue paint and dabbed them all over the bushes to fill them up with blueberries.
4) Blueberry Hill Play Doh Play
The tray invitation: Blueberry Hill made with the tunnel from our x-track set as the base. I covered it in green Play-Doh with blueberries rolled out of blue Play-Doh, slapped on some plastic trees and grass, added 2 bear figurines and 2 people figurines, and topped it off with 2 “pails” on the side. When I set up trays like this one, they are not with a focused goal in mind. The idea is imaginative open play and the fun is in seeing where Rocket’s mind goes with it all.
First, the people characters picked blueberries and put them in the pails. In this picture, Sal is getting mixed up with the mama bear. He very naturally “plays out” the stories we read on his own.
After Little Sal and her mom filled up the pails with blueberries, Rocket decided they should go home. So I cleared the tray of the hill, used soft foam blocks to create the entry to their house, and the tray became their home. Here, we counted how many blueberries we’d picked.
Rocket suggested that Little Sal and her mom make a blueberry pie for her dad. (This Play-Doh play happened the day after we made our own blueberry pie for Dad). So I took out our Play-Doh rolling pin from this dough set, a cake mold from our cake making station, and brown Play-Doh for the pastry.
First, Rocket rolled out the dough with the rolling pin.
He layered the bottom of the cake with the dough. I helped him remove the edges.
Then he filled up the whole thing with the blueberries.
After covering up the top with more dough, he cut slits into it like we’d done with our real pie!
Next, it was time to bake the pie. I made an “oven” out of more soft foam blocks. He placed the pie in it and set the timer.
Time to remove the pie! Baking a blueberry pie out of the blueberries from the original tray was completely his idea and he had so much fun doing it that we repeated this type of play several times. I love his ideas!
When Little Sal’s dad came home, they offered him the blueberry pie. Her dad was this blue car!
5) Baking A Blueberry Pie
Click the above picture for the full post on our own kitchen adventure in baking a blueberry pie.
6) Making A Blueberry Julius
Click the above picture for the post about making a delicious blueberry julius.
7) Reading With A Focus
Blueberries For Sal is a well-written children’s book with a lot of underlying themes which offer parents many opportunities for deeper discussion with their kids. Some things we talked about:
- The importance of being aware. We talked about how not paying attention led to Sal and the cub losing their mothers.
- What to do when lost. I gave Rocket a rundown of what he should do if he ever gets lost.
- Character perspective. Part of the story follows Little Sal as she follows behind her mother and eats away at the blueberries. The other part is from the cub’s point of view. We talked about character perspective and how the story changes depending on whose eyes we’re seeing the world from.
- Clues as to when the book was set. The book never states when it’s set, but in the end depicts an older kitchen with a wood stove. Also, as Little Sal and her mom were leaving Blueberry Hill and headed back to their car, you could see that it was an old-fashioned vehicle. We talked about how cars, stoves, and other things have changed over time.
8) Related Reading
- Little Bunny’s Melon Patch by Harriet Ziefert – Another book about harvesting fruit.
- Mr. Putter & Tabby Pick The Pears by Cynthia Rylant – Also a book about picking ripe fruit- his favorite in the related reading list (and mine too).
- Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg – This was my husband’s favorite in our related reading! Rocket didn’t take to it nearly as much. It may be more appealing to him when he gets older.
- We’re Going On A Picnic by Pat Hutchins – In this book, the animals picked fruit before going on a picnic.
- Our Apple Tree by Gorel Kristina Naslund – A book about an apple tree.
- Harvey The Gardener by Lars Klinting – More about harvesting ripe fruits and vegetables.
9) Hidden Picture
Rocket thought this picture was kind of scary. I asked him why and he showed me something I hadn’t noticed- faces in the rock!
I’ve outlined it for you to see. It looks like a bear and a person. We talked about whether this was an accident or if Mr. McCloskey included this hidden picture on purpose. Rocket is certain it was on purpose. I think he must be right!
10) Sending A Post Card
When we went blueberry picking, I grabbed a postcard for the farm. Rocket decorated it with markers and stickers and chose a special person to whom to send it!
Our activities for Blueberries For Sal were jam-packed full of fun. We didn’t even get to all the things I had planned before the week ended (such as canning blueberries).
In fact, we rarely get to all the plans I have for any of the books. Usually, I write out a big list of ideas in the beginning of the week and we are too busy to do them all. I’ll go into details on how I plan our weeks in a future post.
It never matters to me that we don’t finish what’s on the list. I see it more as a guide to inspire than anything else. How the week actually pans out is more fluid than strict schedules allow and as long as we get a lot out of what we do, I’m happy.
This was one of my personal favorite Before Five In A Row books and I’m glad we own it!
Songbird participates in tot school by listening to books, watching what her big brother is doing, and doing important tummy time while we play!
Other Tot School Resources