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Preschool Cranberry Exploration

Cranberries are amazing little fruits that can provide hours of exploration for preschoolers simply because they float.  These seasonally popular berries are perfect for exploring concepts like buoyancy in an authentic way.  This sink or float experiment is also the perfect way to introduce a week of cranberry-inspired activities because it is sure to pique the kiddos’ interest and keep them engaged.  
I like to introduce the cranberries during circle time or large group time, this gives me the opportunity to start a discussion and begin a list of what the children already know about cranberries. Some students may be familiar with cranberry juice, or dried cranberries, but for most children, the cranberry is not something that they have had a lot of experience with.  
I also use this introduction as an opportunity to introduce the exploration – will the cranberry sink or float? I created some cute charts that you can use to record the children’s thoughts during these conversations.  You can download them here!

After we have a large group conversation I get centers ready for the day, with one of the centers being the water table, I add the cranberries and the children have the opportunity to explore on their own.  I pay close attention to their conversations and take notes on how they are using the cranberries.

After everyone has had a chance to explore I bring the group back together so they can tell each other what they learned. I also share some of what I heard them saying, these notes can start conversation if the children are slow to share.  This discussion gives us a chance to go back to our charts and review our predictions and add to what we want to learn.

If I still have the children’s attention we keep exploring (If they’re ready for a break we take one, I’ll come back to the conversation later in the day).  The children can join me at the table to see what the cranberries look like inside, when I cut a few of them open I pass them around and ask the children to talk about what they see, then I’ll explain that the open spaces in the cranberry fill up with air and help the cranberries float, I’ll also give some examples of other things that float if we fill them up with air (like beach balls, swim floaties, and balloons).

At this point I wrap up the lesson and the children can draw what they learned, or simply draw a picture of a cranberry – this gives them the opportunity to express their understanding, and share their thoughts with me, so that I can see what they took from the learning experience.

I’ve got more great cranberry activities for your Thanksgiving celebrations, be sure to check back throughout the week!

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