I wrote this after my first Cranberry Thanksgiving “row” with my sweet Lily Jane. I thought you might enjoy it as you are planning your Thanksgiving school with your children!

For the last week, my daughter, Lily Jane, and I have been having a marvelous time rowing the Five in a Row Volume One lessons for Cranberry Thanksgiving.This is the first FIAR book we have rowed and Lily has been living and breathing pilgrim life. I thought I would share with you some of the things we’ve enjoyed together.

Of course each day began with a “curl up together on the couch” sweet read of the book, Cranberry Thanksgiving. Isn’t it just the most delightful story? I think the Devlins were put on this earth to share that sweet tale with us. It has shaped the Thanksgiving holiday for me in so many ways.

I remember vividly listening to it when I was Lily’s age…always making my mother pause on the page of silhouettes against the firelight as Maggie, Grandmother and Mr. Whiskers enjoy their pumpkin pie. What a charming and engaging illustration! Lily loves it just as much as my mother and I do. After we read the story, we delved into all the activities. We studied New England and the Eastern shore. My upstairs hallway became “US map central” and each day we trekked upstairs so Lily could proudly place her story disk on the New England region.We learned about cranberries and how they grow and are harvested. We rented a wonderful video from the library called Cranberry Bounce that showed a real working cranberry bog.

Lily decided she wanted to harvest some cranberries, so we ran into the kitchen and turned my kitchen sink into our “bog.” We poured two bags of cranberries into the dry sink and Lily worked on “raking” them off the vines with her fingers. Then we “flooded” the bog with the kitchen faucet and Lily set about hauling in the floating berries with a pasta spoon. She was thrilled! The berries went straight into a large pot and then she made her own batch of cranberry sauce – which we ate on rustic little hoecakes, much like the pilgrims might have enjoyed.We spent one of our days working on counting and numbers (using those wonderful little cranberries, of course) and measuring – as we made Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry bread. Lily was enchanted when I pulled down our own “large yellow bowl” and my wooden spoon. She was almost whispering to me as she stirred the batter and said, “I am really making Grandmother’s famous bread!”Lily also became fascinated by the history of the first Thanksgiving. We read a large stack of books discussing the history of that first hard winter and then the feast that followed it. Lily was very impressed with Squanto and the help he gave so freely to the Pilgrims. I cut out small construction paper “fish” and “corn kernels” and we practiced planting corn just like Squanto taught.As I mentioned before, we both love the illustration featuring Maggie’s silhouette, so we enjoyed the art lesson describing that technique and even tried it ourselves. It was so much fun.


We decided to wrap up our adventure by throwing our own Thanksgiving feast – just like the Pilgrims enjoyed. Lily helped me make a list of the foods they would have had – turkey, dried fruit, corn, beans, potatoes, corn cakes, etc. Then we worked for two days buying the ingredients (lessons in budgeting!), organizing them in the pantry (lessons in space management!) and then cooking them (lessons for Mommy in patience!). Instead of roasting a whole turkey (since we will be tackling that job next week), I bought one of those small rotisserie chickens and it was our “mini-turkey.” 

Lily decided to dress as a pilgrim girl, and she announced her little brother, Colby, would come to the party as Squanto. She spent a long time cutting and coloring the paper feathers for his headdress (after much protestations when I told her she would not be plucking real feathers from her parakeets for the purpose…) and then we made him a little brown paper “loin cloth.” How do you keep a paper loincloth on an 18-month-old baby? You staple it directly on to a clean disposable diaper of course, and then just put it on him!  That made me laugh, but it worked! Finally, the feast day came and we made sure it was a lunch when Daddy could join us. What fun and what glorious memories! Lily learned so much and I had a wonderful time. I thought I would share a couple of photos of the event with you. I hope you enjoy them. And from the bottom of my heart, blessings upon blessings to you this Thanksgiving!

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