Blueberries for Sal Counting Game

Have you ever picked your own blueberries? I think it’s one of the best experiences for kids. They get to see where berries come from. They get some fresh air and time with nature, and there’s even a snack provided!

We no longer live in a place with access to a “pick your own” farm, so we make do with our local farmer’s market. During blueberry season I’m always reminded of one of my all-time favorite children’s books, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey.

This classic is a Caldecott Honor book that was originally published in 1948. But children (adults) of today still find it an endearing story.  In it, Sal and her mother go blueberry picking.  Little do they know, Mama bear is also out teaching her cub to pick blueberries. Sal and the cub get so caught up picking and eating blueberries that they get mixed up and start following the wrong mama. This leads to a scene that just makes you giggle.

It’s one of those books I don’t mind reading over and again. In the story, little Sal is supposed to be helping Mother pick blueberries to can for winter, but as she puts the berries into her pail, little Sal can’t help but take them back out to munch on. This gave me the idea for this simple counting game.

Blueberries for Sal counting game

This Blueberry Counting Game provides a fun way for children to practice

  • numeral identification,
  • basic counting skills, and
  • one-to-one correspondence.

Once you’ve read the book with your preschooler, kindergartener, or other young kids, I encourage you to try the game below.

blueberry game

What you’ll need:

  • 24 Blueberries (or pom poms or beads) placed in a berry basket or bowl
  • Game Spinner from this printable Blueberry Counting Game along with a paperclip and pencil
  • Small pail (or bowl or cup) for each player

Blueberries for Sal game

How to Play

  1. Decide who will go first and what the order of play will be.
  2. On their turn, each child will spin the paperclip on the paper spinner.
  3. Then the child removes that number of blueberries from the berry basket, and places them gently in their own pail.
  4. The next child takes a turn following steps 2 & 3.
  5. If the spinner lands on a blueberry instead of a number, that player must return one of the blueberries from their pail back to the berry basket.
  6. The game ends when all of the berries have been “picked” from the berry basket.
  7. The player with the most berries in their basket is the winner.

Blueberries for Sal game

Game Tips

  • If the children are tempted to eat their berries as they play, remind them that the winner is the one with the most berries left in their pail. (Or use non-edible counters.)
  • Use more than 24 blueberries if more than 2 players (or to make the game longer).
  • If you feel your children are too rough to play gently with the berries, use grapes, beads, pom poms or something else instead.
  • To make the game more challenging by requiring children to put more than one blueberry back into the basket if their spinner lands on a blueberry.

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