Time for Thanksgiving!
- Grades: 1–2
Getting your Thanksgiving unit ready? Scholastic has some awesome resources to help you plan a great one. Sign up to receive letters from a Wampanoag boy and Pilgrim girl to be delivered to your classroom! You can also take advantage of the vast variety of other multimedia and more traditional resources available on the site right now. There are video tours of the Mayflower, Plimoth Plantation, a Wampanoag homesite, and a Pilgrim village, plus slide shows that really bring the spirit of Thanksgiving into your classroom. Check it out.
Teacher Magazine has a great article with suggestions for crafts and other fun activities to help kids learn about Thanksgiving. And try these great online features for answers to your Thanksgiving questions:
The American Journeys Web site provides access to firsthand accounts of early North American exploration.
Turkey clip art courtesy of Scholastic Printables.
Scholastic Printables is one of my "go to" resources. In my class, we will play the "Sail on the Mayflower!" game and work on a Thanksgiving Reader's Theater the week before Thanksgiving. I also like to incorporate some drawing or writing activity (download a Mayflower drawing) and a glyph the week of Thanksgiving (download turkey glyph). We also make a turkey hat to take home.
We usually have a Friendship Feast with our Kindergarten Buddies, and I assign an extra credit homework assignment for their break. There is a great Web quest that features the Plimoth Plantation and an activity calendar that kids can do over their vacation if they choose.
I also take this opportunity to have children research their family tree. I like to use an easy family tree template from Misbach enterprises. Here is another family tree template that you can fill out online. We discuss what the term family means to us and then talk about all different kinds of families, from those with divorced parents and single parents to foster and adoptive parents. Then after the trees are filled out, we write stories about how our families are special.
The 3rd graders read Molly's Pilgrim, make pilgrim clothespin dolls, and then research the first person in their family to come to the United States. Then the students share their findings in an oral report and put their pilgrim doll creations in a class museum.
Some wonderful books that I read to my class during November include Turkey Trouble, A Turkey for Thanksgiving, One is a Feast for Mouse, Thanksgiving Day Thanks, Gracias, The Thanksgiving Turkey, and On the Mayflower.
The book Lies My Teacher Told Me is a good book for teachers to read to acquire background knowledge on Thanksgiving and other holidays. The section on Thanksgiving portrays the tough reality the Pilgrims faced in sailing across the Atlantic and their relationship with Squanto and the Wampanoag leading up to the feast.
I hope that you enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations!