Follow along as we “row” classic children’s literature with Before Five in a Row. Learn more about BFIAR here.
Blueberries For Sal is a story about Little Sal and her mother going to pick blueberries on Blueberry Hill. Little Sal’s mother wants to can the berries so they will have food for the winter. On the other side of Blueberry Hill, a mother bear and her cub are eating blueberries to store up fat for the winter. Sal and the cub stop to rest, and when they get up, they start to follow each other’s mother and everyone is mixed up on Blueberry Hill.
Notes & Thoughts
We rowed this book in July when Gabriella was just shy of 3 years old. We do not have any pick-your-own blueberry farm here in South Texas, but if we did, I would definitely time this book for blueberry season. There are two must-have supplies for this book: blueberries and a tin pail (we found one at the Target Dollar Spot). The BFIAR manual had lots of great suggestions for discussion topics with the book that we took advantage of. We discussed the vintage kitchen in the illustrations, the parallel story happening in the book, what to do if we were ever separated from each other outside of our house, hibernation, fruit growing seasons, onomatopoeia and much more. There are so many fun things to do with bears and blueberries it was hard to decide on just a few. I had plans to row “Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?” next so I focused more on the blueberry/seasonal food theme so I could save bear activities for later.
- Painting with rolling blueberries: We used an old wooden tray (leftover packaging from a Melissa & Doug activity) and used it to create a fun piece of art. I put paint in little bowls and let Gabriella dip the blueberries in the paint and then roll them around the tray.
- ‘Blueberry picking”: We used pretend blueberries (blue unifix cubes) in a mason jar and transferred them to a tin pail using kitchen tongs. The best part was saying “kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk” over and over again. It never got old!
- Fortress of the Bears: We watched this PBS documentary about bears. While some parts were a little more graphic than I would have liked, it was overall a good way to see live brown bears. Gabriella enjoyed seeing the baby bears and seeing the bears fishing for salmon and it surprisingly kept her attention for the entire movie as long as I kept explaining what was happening and pointing interesting details out.
- Blueberry bush craft: I pre-cut the bush and stem using green and brown construction paper and let Gabriella squeeze glue all over it and put as many blue pom poms as she wanted on it.
- Blueberry food: I bought a bulk flat of blueberries from a produce co-op so we were overflowing with blueberries all week long. Besides eating her weight in fresh blueberries, we also made blueberry lemon pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry yogurt and blueberry smoothies.
- Blueberry counting game: I printed and laminated this printable from the B4FIAR Fold and Learn (subscribe to the Five in a Row blog for access to the free Fold and Learn resources), and we used it daily. It usually ended up being more of a snack mat, but Gabriella thoroughly enjoyed counting all of her food.
- Mini reader: I printed and laminated this mini reader so that we could work on directional words. It has several scenes from the story and then Gabriella had to put Little Bear in the correct place according to what the story said. Gabriella often mixes up these words like next to, besides, on top of, etc. so this was fun and beneficial for her vocabulary.
- Canning rings game: On the inside cover of the book, Little Sal and her mother are working in the kitchen. Little Sal is playing with some canning rings by putting them on a wooden spoon so this became a staple activity for our week. Gabriella asked to play with these several times a day.
- Blueberry jam: This was a must-do activity! We love strawberry and blackberry jam, but I wasn’t sure about blueberry jam, so we used this small batch recipe and it turned out absolutely delicious! We made strawberry jam as well because it’s a family favorite.