Friday, July 27, 2012

Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey

It's blueberry season! So I decided to read the classic children's book, Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey, with my son. I was not sure how he would do with it because the pictures, while beautiful, are done all in monochromatic pen and ink. So the illustrations are not the bright, bold pictures he sees in many of his storybooks. But he loved it! He has been totally engrossed in the story (all 15 or so times we've read it in the past few days) and he especially loves the onomatopoeia. The blueberries make a "kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk" sound as Sal drops them in her tin pail and Mama Bear makes a "gulp" sound when she munches and swallows her blueberries. Both sounds cause my son to chuckle every time we read the story.

Activity #1: Kuplink, Kuplank, Kuplunk

We've done several activities over the past few days based on this story. First, we reenacted the "kuplink-ing" of the blueberries. But rather than using blueberries and a tin pail, we used a plastic pail and some marbles. **Note: Marbles are a definite choking hazard so be sure your child is old enough to understand not to put them in his/her mouth and even if you think they understand, it's a good idea to monitor this activity closely.** If you are concerned about the marbles, then by all means use real blueberries!

We read the story together and when we got to the parts where the character, Sal, put her blueberries in her pail, we practiced doing it ourselves. After the story was complete, he LOVED putting all the "blueberries" in a pail and pouring them into another pail. He didn't want to stop this activity, but I finally got him to move on by telling him about our next activity...making blueberry smoothies!

The focus of this activity was on the action of putting the blueberries in the bucket and the sounds that they made; great for a young toddler. If you wanted to adapt this for older children you can focus more on the mathematics of Sal's actions. Your child can practice addition and subtraction by adding blueberries to the pail and then taking away the one's that Sal eats. It'd be more fun to use real blueberries for this because then your child can subtract in the same way that Sal did, by eating the blueberries!

"kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk"

Activity #2: Smoothies

The next activity we did was making blueberry smoothies. We make a lot of smoothies and usually I just throw together some yogurt and frozen berries, but this time I decided to try a recipe I came across in Health magazine that involved the addition of tofu! I had all of the ingredients measured ahead of time so that my son could do the pouring into the cup and become an active participant in making the smoothie.  I don't love tofu, so I was a little skeptical about this recipe, but it was pretty good and my 2 year old devoured it!

Blueberry-tofu smoothie. Yum!

Activity #3: "Blueberry Pie"

The third activity was a "blueberry pie" art project. When doing an art project with a child, always have all of your materials prepped ahead of time. This will save your sanity immensely.

You will need:
a paper plate
blue finger paint
brown construction paper cut into strips using shape scissors (prepare these ahead of time)

Have your child make "blueberries" on the plate by using one finger to make small dots of blue paint. When the paint is dry, your child (probably with some assistance from you) can glue the "crust" on top of the blueberries in a lattice pattern.

I'm not actually sure that my son knows what pie is yet, but he still enjoyed making this one!

Blueberry Pie!
Activity #4: Blueberry Muffins

Our final activity was making blueberry muffins. There are a million different blueberry muffin recipes out there. I decided to try a new one, a lemony blueberry muffin. They were not my most favorite, but I personally like muffins to be very sweet, and these just didn't have enough sweetness for me. I'll post the recipe in case these lemon blueberry muffins are up your alley.

Like any activity you do with toddlers, it is a very good idea to have everything prepped ahead of time. If you are cooking with older children you can get them more involved in the measuring.  I had everything measured and ready to go except for the flour. This was a mistake. Take the time to measure the flour too! I turned for a second and toddler hands were covered in flour! Baking with kids is bound to get a little messy, but having everything ready ahead of time will help keep things a bit cleaner.

Lemony Blueberry Muffins

Activity #5 Blueberry Picking

One more activity idea is to take your child blueberry picking. I am due to have baby #2 any day now so I just don't have it in me to chase my 2 year old around a blueberry farm in the 95 degree weather we've been having lately. But this will certainly be an activity we will be doing next summer! Enjoy your blueberries!

To view the entire list of activities based on books and songs click here!

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