Thanksgiving: Past, Present and Future by ECSDM
Intermediate, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade
- Individually, students will reflect about their traditions, compare them with their peers' and contrast their celebration with the first Thanksgiving.
- As a whole group, students will explore the first Thanksgiving with two interactive tours, and they will compare their ideas to common myths.
- With partners, students will explore Thanksgiving trivia, and they will come up with a list of reasons why this day was selected for a national holiday.
- As a whole group, students will analyze and discuss George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation.
This lesson will take approximately three consecutive classes that are forty-five minutes. A good suggestion is to incorporate these learning activities the three days before Thanksgiving.
Materials and Resources
- When students enter the classroom, they will complete the Do Now in their journals: The questions for reflection are “Why does our country celebrate Thanksgiving? How much do you know about the first Thanksgiving? and, How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving in their own unique way?” As students respond to questions, the teacher will circulate the room, read some reflections and ask specific students to volunteer their responses. After 6 minutes of writing, selected students will lead a class discussion that compares today’s traditions and contrasts the traditions to their ideas of the first Thanksgiving.
- Using the journal responses as our guide, students will discover facts about the Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe’s first thanksgiving. Using the SMART Board (or LCD and white/chalk board if no SMART Board is available), students will tour the Mayflower from all the crew’s perspectives using the Interactive Thanksgiving website. Then students will explore the culture, traditions and surroundings of the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Students will use the SMART Board to navigate, and the teacher will ask questions to connect this situation to their own life. After exploration, students will take the interactive quiz, and use the resources available to find the correct choice. They will turn in their own copy for a grade.
- After the quiz, students will look at a website that contains Mayflower myths. On a separate sheet of loose leaf paper, students will write down three myths they know are incorrect, and three myths that they strongly believe in. students will be encouraged to use specific details and realistic experiences. Students will distinguish the difference between fact and opinion while using their own experiences to support their knowledge. The teacher will facilitate volunteer students to debate their beliefs and other students to challenge their response with the fact. Students must support their beliefs with situations from real life or from the previous website.
- The myth short response will be collected if finished or completed for homework.
- When students enter the classroom, they will read the Do Now from the SMART Board and individually begin the learning activity in their notebook. The SMART Board has a list of true or false statements about the Mayflower and Thanksgiving myths some from Day 1 and some new. The last line reads, “Complete the true or false questions in notebook and then formulate three questions you have about Thanksgiving.” By circulating the room as students write, the teacher is able to select students that have written valid and engaging questions. Other classmates will join in on formulating, asking and answering their peers’ questions.
- To change the topic of discussion, the teacher will ask the class to raise their hand if their family eats turkey on Thanksgiving. The teacher will then ask the class to create a list of facts they know about turkeys. Then the teacher will show them the turkey trivia website. As a class, they will select and organize the top five most interesting facts about turkeys, and five artistic students will be chosen write down responses on construction paper and thematically illustrate. Their contributions will be showcased on the classroom bulletin board.
- With partners, students will discuss the question off of the SMART Board, and they create an index card that illustrates their short response answer. The question is “How do I celebrate Thanksgiving in a respectful way?” The index cards will be graded and showcased on the bulletin board as well.
- When students enter the classroom, they will read the Do Now from the SMART Board and individually begin reflection writing in their journal. The writing criteria states that “President Bush has decided children get too many vacations. He thinks that getting rid of Thanksgiving is okay because December offers so many holidays. Your job is to design a list of reasons why Thanksgiving should stay national holiday. Your final sentence should be suggestion of a holiday to cut out of our calendar.” As students respond to questions, the teacher will circulate the room, read some reflections and ask specific students to volunteer their responses. After 6 minutes of writing, selected students will lead a class debate that saves or gets rid of Thanksgiving.
- After our debate, the teacher will ask the class if they know who started Thanksgiving. Since most of the class will state it was the pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe, the teacher will change the screen of the SMART Board to the White House. The teacher will then ask the class which president of the United States declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. When someone volunteers George Washington, the class will view his Thanksgiving Proclamation and use the SMART Board magnifier to read.
- The teacher will read the Proclamation once and then assign each student a sentence to interpret. The class will discuss our first president’s intention and meaning in proclaiming Thanksgiving a national holiday. As a final question, I will ask my class why they think other countries have feasts in the autumn.
Click on rubric below:
This instructional content was intended for use with a SMART Board.
Charissa Bolduc, Enlarged City School District of Middletown