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Letters From the New World: Teaching Tips

Read letters from a Pilgrim girl and a Wampanoag boy living in the New World and use these ideas to bring them to life in your classroom.

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

Throughout the month of November, you and your classroom can read letters written from the perspectives of fictional characters living in the New World. These letters will take you back in time as they describe the lives of a Pilgrim girl and a Wampanoag boy in 1620.

Visit our First Thanksgiving activity to view the historical letters, and then use the tips below to announce the arrival of each letter and incorporate them into your November curriculum.

  • Hang our free printable signs on your door to announce that your class has received letters from Plimoth: Letter from a Wampanoag Indian and Letter from a Pilgrim.
  • Use a straw cornucopia as a Thanksgiving mailbox. Print copies of the letters for each student and put them in the cornucopia. Let students pick up their letters and write responses.
  • Print out copies of the letters, enlarge them on a copy machine, and hang them up on your Thanksgiving bulletin board.
  • Have your students share their Thanksgiving experience.
  • Have a special student stand up and read the letter to the class. This could be a reward for that student or a way to build confidence in reading aloud.
  • Hold a Reader's Theater performance in which one student plays the role of the Pilgrim and one student plays the Native American, and they read all of the letters in sequence. For more Thanksgiving-themed Reader's Theater ideas, check out our First Thanksgiving Interview collection and The Mayflower Compact.
  • Print out copies of the letters and let your students deliver the letters to other classrooms. They can even read them aloud!
  • Do a compare and contrast exercise with the letters. Discuss the different lifestyles of the Native Americans and the Pilgrim settlers. Check out Daily Life: A First Thanksgiving Activity and use our Venn Diagram (PDF) to keep track of differences and similarities between the two cultures.

  • Subjects:
    Native American History, Early Exploration and Settlements, Thanksgiving
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