Learning the history behind national celebrations and long-held traditions is both important and fascinating for students. This article discusses three ways for teaching Thanksgiving to your class in an engaging, unique way.
Test your students’ knowledge of the first Thanksgiving with an interesting “What do you know about Thanksgiving?” true/false question game from Scholastic. You can facilitate this activity in several ways. If your class works well in groups and stays focused, divide the students into teams and have them work through the questions together. Then, as a class, have each team share their answer and tally up the points for correct selections.
Another way would be to have the students work individually, and then review the answers as a class. No matter which way works best for your class, be sure to take the opportunity to enter into further discussion on some of the meaty questions.
Here’s a sample from the question game:
- True or False: The first Thanksgiving was a harvest festival, and wasn’t actually called Thanksgiving. It was called Harvest Home.
- True: The phrase “Thanksgiving Day” was first used officially after President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November a national holiday in 1863.
- True or False: They ate pumpkin pie for dessert.
- FALSE: For dessert, they had a pudding called frumenty, which was made of wheat, barley, or corn, and fruit and spices.
Using the handout from Scholastic, discuss and compare the first Thanksgiving menu with your students’ family’s menu. Even amongst one Georgia classroom, you’ll be surprised to find the drastic differences in family traditions and Thanksgiving dinner menus. This offers a wonderful opportunity to encourage and discuss diversity in a positive light.
To extend the conversation beyond the classroom, ask each student to take a photo of their favorite menu item on Thanksgiving and have a ‘show and tell’ when they come back from break.
Teaching Thanksgiving Activity #3:
The first Thanksgiving was so much more than a meal. For the Pilgrims, extreme hardship including a journey across the Atlantic Ocean in a small boat was still fresh on their minds. Take your class on a virtual field trip on the Mayflower with Scholastic’s outstanding video tour on a life-size reproduction of the Mayflower anchored at Plymouth Plantation. This fantastic resource also features virtual field trips of the Wampanoag Homesite, Plymouth Plantation, and Pilgrim Village.
Take Virtual Tour: http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/webcast.htm
What is KidTeacher?
KidTeacher is proud to be a resource for teachers. Our goal is to organize a database of professionals who are willing to speak to classrooms about their various career experiences, assisting teachers in supplementing their lesson plans. You may register as a teacher here, begin viewing volunteer profiles, and invite them to come speak to your classroom.