“Blueberries for Sal” Lap Book meets Five in a Row

IMG_2890Right before school started, our family took a trip out to Ohio to help my sister pack up for their big move to Hawaii. It was a great time to play with cousin Owen before he moves so far away.

Even though we weren’t yet into full time school, I still wanted to keep us on track and in our daily school routine. I decided this would be a great time to try out a couple different ways of study that I have been reading about on other homeschool blogs.

I have been very interested in both lap books and the program called 5 in a Row. I decided to combine the two ideas, and in the end I love the result. But before I get into what we did, let me explain a little about these two ideas.

Blueberries_for_SalFive in a Row is a literary based curriculum for children age 4-8 (ish).  It is a Unit Study style program using classic and popular children’s literature as the basis for each individual Unit Study. The idea is this: take a classic book, enjoy it together as a family reading it five days in a row, then use it to learn interesting and applicable lessons.  The learning is done in a natural fun way that children don’t even realize how much they are truly learning. There is curriculum to go alone with 50+ books; I decided to go with “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey.

IMG_3137The term “Lap Book” was first coined by Tammy Duby, a homeschool mother and writer from Virginia, USA. She named it that because the whole project could fit into a “book” that fits in the child’s lap. Lapbooks are a wonderful hands-on homeschooling tool – a kind of ‘scrapbooking meets homeschooling’ – though more than home educators use them. They are an inexpensive portfolio or collection of mini-books, flaps, and folded display material that provides interactive space for drawings, stories, graphs, graphics, timelines, and written work, from any topic, unit study, book you choose, gathered, glued, and creatively displayed in a standard sized folder, often folded in a “shutter-fold”.

For this first go I purchased a printable lap book lesson, but in the future I think I will create my own content. For $7.00 I got all the digital files and daily activities to go along with the story. You can get yours here.

IMG_3138IMG_6148On day one we talked about blueberries and how they grow. We already knew they grew on bushes from our field trip to pick berries a few weeks back, but it was good review to talk about the other ways fruit can grow and the life cycle for berries.

Math was hands on as Eden scooped and measured frozen berries into cups.

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On day two we talked about bears. We learned that there are all different kinds of bears all over the world. We pretended we were bears and acted out each step a bear would take to prepare for hibernation. We learned that bears eat a lot more than just blueberries. And we learned what other animals do besides hibernate.


IMG_3139Each day after reading the story, Eden loved pulling out the reading card and having me record the date to track her reading. After hearing the story three times, Eden used the above pictures to retell the story herself.

On day 4, we talked about all the different things we can make from blueberries. Eden thinks we should try blueberry ice-cream sometime.

Our lesson came with a recipe for blueberry pancakes, but we made muffins instead.



We also “painted with blue berries”. We used small wooden beads and a few drops of blue paint in a walled tub. She rolled the beads around by tilting the tray making trails and lines. We did this again a few times after because she had so much fun.

We later added purple paint as Eden thought it would look more realistic.

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We also got the water beads out and tracked their growth with a ruler every few hours. It would take too long to measure the actual growth of blueberries, but these were close enough.


If you have never played with water beads, they are a lot of fun. They are a little slimy and slick but feel nice and cool between the fingers. They looked a little too much like blueberries as Eli kept trying to eat them.

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On day 5 we talked about the state of Maine, which is the setting for this story. We found it on the world map and talked about how Maine is different from Missouri. We learned that 90% of Maine is covered in forest and that Maine is also known for lobsters, shipbuilding, tourism, wood, and blueberries.

To end our week of activities, we set up a fun sensory painting experience for the kids outside.

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We set out poster board and blue paint (our color of the week), striped the babies to their diapers, and lined them up. Eden jumped right in, ready for mess. Owen was a little more cautious. And Eli wanted nothing to do with the experience. We lifted both the boys onto the poster board; Owen would put his feet in a move around a little; but Eli did everything he possibly could not to touch the paint (this is not his first painting experience so I don’t know why he was so against the idea of getting messy).

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Next they used their hands, and then Owen wasn’t so sure.


Aunt Amber came up with the idea of using sticks and this made everyone happy.

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We had a great week “rowing” through “Blueberries for Sal” and trying out lap books. IMG_2977




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