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Blueberries for Sal Unit Study

Updated on August 24, 2017

Blueberry Picking

Picking Blueberries
Picking Blueberries | Source

Exploring Blueberries with Sal

As the sun rises higher in the sky the blueberries start to ripen. Plump, ripe and delicious blueberries are one of my children's favorite berries to pick so when we discovered Robert McClosky's classic tale, Blueberries for Sal, we just had to turn it into a Unit Study.

We will read about blueberries and learn about blueberry plants. We can write with blueberry juice and unscramble the blueberry words. As we pick more and more blueberries we will be counting, adding and multiplying the blueberries and then divide them evenly to practice skip counting.

So pick up your tin pail, and tie up your shoes, we're going blueberry picking with Sal and her mother on Blueberry Hill....

Language Arts

Reading Blueberries for Sal

Blueberries for Sal - by Robert McCloskey

Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk go the blueberries into Little Sal's tin pail. Sal and her mother are picking blueberries up on Blueberry Hill and today we will join them as we begin this unit study. Let's start by reading Blueberries for Sal.

Blueberry Fiction - Language Arts for Multi-Ages

Here are some of our favorite blueberry books. We love to read them over and over again. For the little ones just learning letters we sometimes point out a letter such as the letter b for blueberry and after reading a story go back and look to see how often we can find it on a page or throughout the book.

Blueberry Sticker

Blueberry Sticker
Blueberry Sticker | Source

Increasing Vocabulary - Searching for Words

Children who are learning words might look for the word blueberry rather than just the one letter. This age group loves to use Highlighter Tape to find words in books. You could ask your beginning readers to put a piece of highlighter tape on the word blueberry each time they run across it as an independent activity while working with your other children.

Older children could write stories that take place after the story that you just read, research information about blueberries or read a favorite blueberry story onto a tape for the younger ones to listen to.

No matter what age your children are, they will love listening to long chapter books such as the Blueberries for the Queen. Listening to books with high vocabulary levels is the best way of increasing children's vocabulary.

Letter K - Kerpink, Kerplank, Kerplunk!

Letter K
Letter K | Source

Letter K

"Kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk" As I was working on a unit study for Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, it stuck me that the words "kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk" all began with the letter K. Now wasn't there another book that had letter K words? Oh, yes, it was Klippity Klop by Ed Emberley

These are the sounds that the blueberries make as they drop into Little Sal's Pail. Notice how the author has used the letter K to begin each word. Since the letter K is rarely used it emphasizes the sound. Blueberries for Sal is a great book to use when introducing the letter K.

The letter K was used in each of these books I believe to highlight the fact that these words are not actually considered words but letter sounds that represent a sound heard. kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk are the sounds heard as Sal drops blueberries into her tin pail. Klippity Klop is the sound of the horse's hooves as the little Knight sets off on an adventure.

Both delightful tales that children of all ages will love, the connection between these two books will be appreciated by older children struggling to spell our complicated English language.

on GoodReads

A Tin Pail full of Blueberries

Blueberry picking
Blueberry picking | Source


Hi Ho a Cherry O

Blueberry Picking Game - Blueberry Place Value Game

Pretend that the cherry trees are blueberry bushes.

Each bush has ten holes for placing up to 10 blueberries. Spin the spinner or roll some dice to see how many blueberries to add to your tree. When a tree is full, pick those blueberries and add them to a tin pail. (Only ten blueberries to a pail.)

When you have ten pails you will have counted out 100 blueberries.

Wooden Blueberries - Blueberries for the Place Value Game

These wooden blueberries can replace the cherries in the Hi Ho Cherry O game so that you can play the Blueberry Place Value Game. Blue wooden beads are perfect for creating a fun imaginative game of picking blueberries.

Small Tin Pails for Collecting Blueberries - Blueberry Place Value Tin Pails

Time to pick some blueberries and learn place value. Though children can count to 100 they may not truly understand what the digit in the tens place means. By counting groups of 10 blueberries and then 10 tin pails containing 10 blueberries each, children will develop this concept in a concrete way that will eliminate the problem that students have in higher levels of math because they will realize the digits in the tens column actually represent 10, 20, or 30 rather than 1,2,or3.


Bake a Blueberry Pie

Making Pie
Making Pie | Source

The Math and Science of Baking a Blueberry Pie

Use math to measure the ingredients accurately, set the oven temperature, and measure the time needed to bake the pie. Later on you will be able to use your knowledge of fractions and division to cut the pie into enough equal pieces for all the members of your family.

Use your knowledge of science to observe the way that the skin of the blueberries break down when heated. Notice that the juice coming from the berries mixes with the sugar, they become a sweet solution, a physical reaction, not a chemical reaction. When the crust browns that browns on top, that is a chemical reaction.


Choosing the Ripest Blueberries
Choosing the Ripest Blueberries | Source

Blueberries and the Five Senses

How many of your five senses can you use to explore the ingredients needed to make a blueberry pie?

  • See the blueberries - Watch for the perfectly ripe ones, the perfect blue, not red nor black
  • Hear the blueberries drop into your tin pail. Kaplink, Kaplank, Kaplunk
  • Touch the blueberries, feel for soft ones that may be overripe or under ripe
  • Taste those perfectly ripe blueberries and compare them with the red or black ones
  • Smell the blueberries as the pie comes out of the oven or the jam cooks on the stove

Making Blueberry Jam

Social Studies

Blueberies of Maine


Wild Blueberries

Growing up in Vermont we had a few commercial blueberry bushes that grew big, fat blueberries on tall bushes, but the best blueberries were the ones that grew up on the hill. Those wild blueberries were tiny but had more flavor than a whole basket full of the big ones.

Blueberries are ripe during the hot days of July and into August.

Have you ever picked wild blueberries?

Which kind of blueberries do you prefer?

Lost on Blueberry Hill - Blueberry Hill Map Skills

Mother and Little Sal, Mother Bear and Baby Bear get mixed up and lost on Blueberry Hill. Make a Blueberry Hill out of play dough and then use the plastic figures to make the tracks on Blueberry Hill. Talk about how important it is to stay within sight of your mother or other caregiver.


Blueberry Patch Collage - Blueberries for Sal Bulletin Board and Word Wall

Tear green construction paper to form the shape of blueberry bushes. Use the hole punch to punch out blueberries and glue them onto the bushes. These can be used to create a Blueberry Hill Bulletin Board. Think of all the other plants and animals that might live in the meadow. Label each plant and animal with words large enough for your children to read from where they sit to write and you will have created a Word Wall that will help your children be able to write stories using words that they might not otherwise remember how to spell correctly as well as encourage the use of a greater variety of words.

One time we found some black fur, cut it out in the shape of Mother and Baby Bear and added them to the scene. How could you add Mother and Little Sal?


Tin Pail Kurplunk Music - kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk

Music is about orchestrating sounds. Hold a tin pail by the handle and drop wooden beads (Blueberries) into the pail one by one. Listen to them make the sound, kurplink, kurplank, kurplunk.

How else could you make music using the tin pail and the wooden beads?

Start a rhythm and have each person create their own sound while following along with the music.

Picking Blueberries

Blueberry Picking
Blueberry Picking | Source

Physical Education and Health

Ride a Blueberry

Children need lots of exercise and as a fun way to add imagination as well as exercise to this unit study I decided to add a metallic Blueberry Hop Ball. My children loved hopping on balls with handles. With a hop ball for each child you can have blueberry races, follow the leader games or even make paths with sidewalk chalk in a large parking lot and hop on vocabulary words from the Blueberries for Sal story.

Make sure that you write the words in very big letters. We found that writing in cursive made the paths more clear and that it was fun for the onlookers to stand on the second floor of our house as one child hopped on the word. Video taping is also another way to get onlookers involved.

The next child gets to run down the stairs as soon as the first child has gotten to the end of the word. (More Exercise)

Tales of Blueberry Picking - Have you ever picked wild blueberries?

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    • profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 

      5 years ago

      I have picked them -- and sometimes near a bear. I usually just let the bear have them!

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      I was hunting a "blue" lens to complete a quest and knew I'd found a good one when I saw your name on it, Evelyn. Excellent page, and as always filled with far more than I can explore in just one sitting. Thanks for a wealth of resources about one of my favorite foods.

    • imamomof6ru profile image


      6 years ago

      Blueberries for Sal is one of our favorites!

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      7 years ago

      At first I thought the "sal" was a type - goes to show you this charming book escaped my attention. If I had someone in the appropriate age group I'd definitely want to share this lens study with them along with the book time.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      7 years ago from Vermont

      Bluberries for Sal is a two generation favorite in our family - we picked two gallons at Wildwood farm this week not counting all that granddaughter A gobbled!

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 

      7 years ago

      I adore and admire your amazing homeschool units of study for children:) I wish I would have had you around when I was raising my own children! Awesome Lens!!!

    • CottageHomestead profile image


      7 years ago

      I love this. We own the book, I am thinking this would be a great unit study to start school out this fall! Thank you so much. Bookmarked!

    • ismeedee profile image


      7 years ago

      I love blueberries and I love this lens! It's so beautifully constructed and full of stuff!!!

    • TheJVilleKid profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, awesome lens! And no, I have not followed a bear!

    • vetochemicals profile image


      7 years ago from Pittsburgh Pa

      You're no doubt an amazing teacher and your students will remember you always, like my Ms Mucci:) Beautiful lens. xo

    • PeacefieldFarm LM profile image

      PeacefieldFarm LM 

      7 years ago

      I'm a homeschooling mom and new to Squidoo. I love your lens. I've never read Blueberries for Sal, but we will definitely have to check it out. Thanks for the great lens.

    • MelanieMurphyMyer profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow. Terrific lens! I chose it for my June fruit and veggies quest. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These are all great activities, we've linked them up to our post Little Hands that Cook with Books and Blueberries. We shared books, songs, picking fun and 30 recipes all about Blueberries.

    • oceansky lm profile image

      Lisa Morris 

      7 years ago

      I have not heard of Blueberries for Sal. It looks like it would be a great book to read.

    • virtualboy profile image


      7 years ago

      I have followed a cub before and the mother chased me.

    • iijuan12 profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      I'm featuring your excellent unit study on my lens on Maine (for teachers and students): . Thank you for your wonderful work!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      I always liked that story when I was a children's librarian. Now I get out my blueberry buckets each summer and go pick some myself in New Hampshire. Great fun and so tasty.

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 

      7 years ago

      I've never read the book, but it looks very cute. :)

    • traveller27 profile image


      7 years ago

      Very well done - blessed by a travelling angel.

    • Showpup LM profile image

      Showpup LM 

      7 years ago

      I've never read this book but looks adorable. I adore unit studies! Such a God-send when homeschooling.

    • iijuan12 profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      This was one of my favorite books as a child, and now I love reading it to my children. We have wild huckleberries (yucky) and blackberries (delicious) growing in our yard, so that's what we pick. Though my oldest son swears he's seen bear tracks near the blackberries, I'm not so sure. Great lens! Thank you!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      8 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This sounds like a lovely book!

    • TeacherRenee profile image


      8 years ago

      This book was always one of my favorites. Such a charming story!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What a wonderful and fun lens. Nicely done!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      With my brothers got together blueberries and mom made marmalade. It was the best jam of life because we had taken several scratches. I love your lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      When I was a young child my parents took us

      blueberries picking. It was a lot of fun as they

      made a pic nick out of it.

    • KarenHC profile image


      9 years ago from U.S.

      I loved this lens! When my boys were little we went blueberry picking each year for a few years at a blueberry farm -- buggy, but so worth it! I also love Robert McKloskey's books.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh Evelyn, you have really evoked some childhood memories with this lovely lens about Blueberries :)

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      9 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      You come up with the most interesting 'unit studies' for teaching children. This one on blueberries based around the book "Blueberries For Sal" is just full of great ideas. Every activity sounds like such fun for children, and for the teacher too!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I sure enjoyed reading this lens about Blueberries for Sal and other great blueberry resources. A delightful read. Thank you.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      9 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Sure wish I had taken lessons from you. You truly have a gift of making things interesting! 5*s and fav.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I haven't picked wild blueberries, but I went to a u-pick blueberry farm last year. I learned I'll pay the price for them to be already picked! LOL It's a lot of work for a small reward.

    • Beaddoodler profile image

      Jennie Hennesay 

      9 years ago from Lubbock TX

      What a delightful unit study! I do so admire people who can take something so delicious and "common" as a blueberry and teach so many things with it

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      @jptanabe: Thank you for coming to pick some blueberries with Sal who loves to learn about blueberries.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      @indigoj: Thank you for coming to pick some blueberries with Sal and her mother on Blueberry Hill.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      9 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Amazing stuff here - who would have thought blueberries could be used to teach so many fine things! I love blueberries, and now I'd just love to go picking wild blueberries with Sal!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      9 years ago from UK

      I love all the original ideas you have pulled together for this unit study. It sounds like a lot of fun!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      @eclecticeducati1: Thank you, SquidAngel.

      Little Sal's Mother is taking her over to visit the Blueberries on your hill. We'll be right there to lensroll you back.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      @Rachel Field: Thank you for coming to pick some blueberries with Sal.

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 

      9 years ago

      What a great lens!! I love all your ideas for helping kids learn!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image


      9 years ago

      Another great unit study you have done here! :) Blessed by an Angel and lensrolling to my Picture Book Study- Blueberries for Sal lens.


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