The First Thanksgiving Online Activity Overview

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

"The First Thanksgiving" online activity encompasses material appropriate for a number of grades and is organized into three main sections:

Voyage on the Mayflower

  • Journey on the Mayflower: This interactive voyage, laced with sound effects and filled with events that occurred on the Mayflower, takes students on the Pilgrims' travels across the stormy Atlantic from Plymouth, England to the New World
  • Tour the Ship: Students go on board the Mayflower to get a first-hand look at the ship's layout, crew members and their responsibilities, and the conditions under which the Pilgrims traveled during their two-month voyage.
  • Pilgrim Timeline: With this interactive timeline, students learn when important events leading up to and during the Pilgrims' historic voyage happened.

Daily Life

  • Compare & Contrast: Pilgrims learned to survive in a land that was new to them, but the native Wampanoags had inhabited that part of the New World for many generations. In this side-by-side comparison, students learn ways in which the lifestyles of Pilgrims and Wampanoags were similar and different. The housing, clothes, food, chores, school, and games of the two groups are highlighted in this section.
  • Pilgrim Timeline: The interactive timeline continues, guiding students through important events from the time the Pilgrims established Plimoth colony in December 1620 to the their first harvest of 1621.

The Thanksgiving Feast

  • Thanksgiving Slideshow: In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims and Wampanoags gathered for a three-day celebration to give thanks for their health, homes, harvest, and helpful friends. This slideshow allows students to be "eyewitnesses" to the people, foods, and activities that embody the festivities now known as the First Thanksgiving.
  • Thanksgiving Web Quest: Students answer questions and link to different sections of the Plimoth Plantation Web site to learn additional facts about the Pilgrims, their reasons for moving to the New World, their voyage, their village, their relationship with the Wampanoag people, and more.
  • Thanksgiving Timeline: From the great harvest feast of 1621 to more modern times, students follow the historical events that led to the conception and declaration of our national Thanksgiving Day holiday.

The activity also contains a section called "More to Explore." The links in this section include resources that allow students to research additional topics related to the First Thanksgiving. To help expand their understanding of life in colonial times, students have easy access to interview transcripts of several Mayflower passengers and Pilgrims - portrayed by Plimoth Plantation interpreters - and an interview with a Wampanoag. They can explore more about the Pilgrims, Wampanoags, and First Thanksgiving by linking directly to the Web site for Plimoth Plantation.

  • Subjects:
    Early Exploration and Settlements, Thanksgiving