Monday, November 22, 2021

My Big List of Resources for Teaching & Learning About American Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving is later this week. All month long I've been sharing Thanksgiving-themed resources and ideas. This post combines all of them into one place. If you have school this week and you're looking for some last-minute Thanksgiving resources, take a look through this list. 

The Science of Thanksgiving Foods
The Reactions YouTube channel, produced by The American Chemical Society, has a few good video lessons that address the science of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. 

Better Thanksgiving Potatoes Through Chemistry explains the chemical properties of raw potatoes and which ones to pick for roasting based on their chemistry. The video then goes on to explain the science of roasting potatoes before finally revealing the best method, based on science, for roasting potatoes.

The Truth About Tryptophan explains why it might not be just the turkey that is making you sleepy after a big Thanksgiving dinner.

 How to Fry a Thanksgiving Turkey Without Burning Your House Down provides an overview of the science involved in deep frying a turkey and how you can use that knowledge to avoid a disaster on Thanksgiving.

Where Thanksgiving Food Comes From
Where Does Your Thanksgiving Dinner Come From? is an interactive storymap that I've shared in the past and still find to be a neat resource. The map displays where eight popular Thanksgiving foods are grown and harvested in the United States. The storymap includes a map for each ingredient. Each map shows the locations of commercial producers. Fun facts are included in the storymap too. For example, did you know that Illinois has at least twice as many acres of pumpkins as any state?

Through It's Okay to Be Smart's The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods students can learn how the most common, traditional Thanksgiving foods originated and evolved to what they are today. This lesson includes an explanation of how archaeologists and scientists determined that turkeys were one of the first animals to be domesticated in North America. We also learn why the turkeys we find in the grocery store today are so much bigger than those of just a few generations ago. 

Corn is often seen as a symbol of Thanksgiving. Today, corn and many products made with it are a staple in the diets of many of us. How did corn become a staple of our diets? What has enabled it to become one of the most cultivated crops in the world? And what are the consequences of cultivating so much corn? Those questions and many others are addressed in the TED-Ed lesson titled How Corn Conquered the World.

Create a Digital Thankfulness Turkey
Last fall I received a few emails from readers looking for some ideas on how to do a digital version of the classic Thanksgiving Thankfulness Turkey project in which students add feathers to a drawing of turkey and each feather has something they're thankful for written on it. My suggestion for creating a digital version of the Thankful Turkey was to use a combination of Pixabay and Google Drawings. I made this short video to illustrate how that process would work. 

Macy's Parade 101
Parade 101 features four video demonstrations of hands-on activities that students can do at home with their parents or in your classroom. The four activities include inflating balloons through the use of baking soda and vinegar, designing balloons for the parade, making and using sculping dough, and building model floats. All of the videos include lists of needed supplies. 

I like all four of the activities. If I was to recommend one for Thanksgiving day it would be building model floats or designing because they can be done with cardboard, paper, glue, markers, and other common household materials that don't make a mess and don't have to be done in a kitchen. That said, I think the most fun one is the inflating balloons activity. 

In addition to the videos and STEAM projects Parade 101 offers some printable coloring sheets and puzzles. An interactive timeline of the history of the parade is still available to view as well.

American vs. Canadian Thanksgiving
My Canadian friends celebrated Thanksgiving last month. Besides the timing of the holiday, there are some other differences between American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving. There are also some commonalities between the two holidays. The following videos provide a humorous look at the similarities and differences between American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving.

Reminder! You should always preview videos before showing them in your classroom. I know many high school teachers who will not have a problem sharing these, but teachers of younger students may want to proceed with caution.

How to Create Re-usable Daily Check-in Forms

Last week a reader emailed me with a question about creating a form that could be used many times over for things like daily check-in or exit ticket questions. He wanted to be able to have all responses in one place where responses could easily be sorted according to date or name. My suggestion was to create a Google Form and then sort the responses in a connected Google Sheet. 

In this short video I demonstrate the two ways that I would create a Google Form for daily check-ins and then view and sort responses in Google Sheets. 

To learn more about sorting information in Google Sheets, watch this short video.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video above, repeatedly using a Google Form to collect information about how your students feel about each day's lessons could be a good way to identify patterns or trends. For example, if every Wednesday my students respond with "I don't get it," I'll want to examine what's happening on Wednesdays that's impacting my students' comprehension of the day's lessons. Perhaps every Wednesday my lesson is right before lunch whereas on other days it's right after lunch (a true quirk of my schedule last year).

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