Sunday, November 1, 2015

The First Thanksgiving - Lessons and Activities for Elementary School Students

Now that Halloween is behind us, the next big marker in the calendar in the U.S. is Thanksgiving. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing resources for teaching elementary school students about Thanksgiving. The first resource comes from Scholastic.

The First Thanksgiving is a fairly comprehensive set of resources for elementary school students and teachers. The site has five primary sections for students. Those sections are The Mayflower, Daily Life, The Feast, Historical Letters, and Videos and Photos.

  • Daily Life is a comparison of the lifestyles of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. Students can click through each aspect of daily life to see a comparison of housing, clothing, food, chores, school, and games.
  • The Feast is a slideshow, with audio support, about the foods eaten and other activities at early Thanksgiving dinners. 
  • The Mayflower is a virtual tour of the ship. This section also has an interactive map through which students can learn about life aboard the ship as it crossed the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • Historical Letters is a collection of historical fiction letters written from the perspectives of a Pilgrim girl and a Wampanoag boy living in the New World. In order to access these letters you need to register as a teacher by using your email address.
  • The videos and photos section of The First Thanksgiving offers short videos (some as long as 20 minutes) about life in Plymouth and the first Thanksgiving. 
Applications for Education
Many of the resources in Scholastic's The First Thanksgiving could be used by students without much guidance from you. That said, there is a selection of free lesson plans that incorporate media from The First Thanksgiving website. The lesson plans are designed for elementary school students.