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Lesson Plan

Thanksgiving: Then and Now by ECSDM


English Language Arts (NYS P-12 Common Core)

Grade Levels

Elementary, Kindergarten


In this lesson, kindergarten students will compare and contrast life as a child in 1621 at the first Thanksgiving with life today.


Thanksgiving Lesson Plans


Three 30-minute lessons.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will gain an understanding of what life was like for the Pilgrims in 1621 by listening and responding to the text, The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving.
  • Students will read along in the reproducible booklet, "Then and Now," highlighting different aspects of life in 1621 and life today.
  • Students will sort items on the SMART Board according to whether they were part of life in 1621 or in the present day.


For Students:

For Teachers:

Step-by-Step Procedure

Day 1:

The lesson will begin with the teacher asking the students if they know anything about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. The teacher will write their responses down on a chart or on the SMART Board. The teacher will then ask the class what they want to learn. Record the questions, producing a "K W L" chart (what we Know, what we Want to learn, what we Learned). This chart will be returned to on Day Two. Students will listen and respond to the children's book, "The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving" by Ann McGovern.

The students will answer teacher generated comprehension questions as the text progresses. Questions should include:

  1. Why did the Pilgrims leave England and set sail on the Mayflower for a new, unknown world?
  2. If you were on the Mayflower, describe some of the things you might see, smell, and hear.
  3. What were some of the most important jobs for the Pilgrims to do when they landed in America?
  4. Why did so many Pilgrims get sick during the first winter?
  5. Do you do jobs at home to help your family? What kind of jobs can you do? What jobs did the Pilgrim children do to help?
  6. Why were the Pilgrims so thankful at harvest time?
  7. Why do you think the Pilgrims asked the Native Americans to join them for their celebration?
  8. Do you think you would have stayed in the new land or returned to England with the Mayflower?
  9. How is your life the same as the life of the Pilgrim children? In what ways is it different?

Day 2:

Students will read along in the reproducible booklet, "Then and Now" which highlights key differences between life in 1621 and life in the present day. Students will touch and read the simple text along with the teacher. Students will discuss the similarities and differences on each page. Then students will add color to the illustrations. Students will then assemble in a large group and look at the KWL chart created on Day 1. The teacher will read the information that was already known, and then the questions the students asked on Day 1. Using the information from the text read on Day 1, plus the Then and Now booklet, students will try to answer as many of their own questions as they are able. The teacher will record their responses in the appropriate place.


Day 3:

Students will work in three heterogeneous groups. Group one will sit with a literacy buddy and read "Then and Now" together. Group two will use the SMART Board and sort pictures into the Venn diagram according to whether it shows something that was a part of pilgrim life, is a part of modern life, or both. Group three will work with the teacher to write and illustrate a sentence, using the sentence starter, "If I was a pilgrim,______".

Day 4:

Students will each be given a picture of an item taken from the SMART Board activity completed yesterday. The teacher will have large butcher paper taped to the classroom wall. Students will show their understanding of the differences between life in the time of the Pilgrims and life today by coming up to the paper and taping their item in the appropriate place. Students will then share what they have learned by answering questions comparing the time periods. Questions may include, "What do you think was the hardest part of being a child in 1622?" "What do you think is hard about being a child today?" "What responsibilities were shared by children both in 1622 and today?" "If it were possible to go back and live in 1622, would you want to live like a pilgrim? Why or why not?"

Students will review the question chart produced on the first day and fill in any unanswered questions.


pilgrim; Thanksgiving; same; different


  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of the similarities and differences between life in 1621 and present life by correctly sorting items on the SMART Board pages.
  • Students will be able to verbally express the similarities and differences between being a child at the time of the first Thanksgiving and life in modern times.

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