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A Feast of Sorrow, Thanks, and Celebration

By Allie Magnuson on November 26, 2010
  • Grades: PreK–K

 A week or two before Thanksgiving break, my class holds a feast. We see our humble classroom feast as a way of expressing sorrow, giving thanks, and celebrating differences. 

 

For the feast, half my students dress as Pilgrims and half as Native Americans. I was told it was okay to make Native American headbands, since they do not have the same sacred meaning as headdresses. (I think I was supposed to use beads rather than feathers, though.) My students and I also talk at length beforehand about the injustices Native Americans have faced since the harvest feast, and how it is important to respect Native Americans just as we respect any other ethnic or religious group. I apologize if any of this is inappropriate or offensive, as I do not intend for it to be.

See my post "Thanksgiving Lessons: Plymouth, Pilgrims, and Native Peoples" to read what I have to say about avoiding Native American stereotypes.

The first thing I do is send out a letter to families, requesting donations of food, volunteers to help students prepare the food at school, and volunteers to cook the food and bring it back to school. 

On the day before the feast, my students go to centers, and I assign volunteers to help them.

 Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving  Miss Bindergarten on Thanksgiving


Everyone gets a chance to prepare part of the meal:

Clean and butter the turkey. . . . 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 

Peel the potatoes. . . .

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving  Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 

 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 
 

 Mix the cookies and other sweet things.

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving  

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 

Some volunteers take the food home to cook it and bring it back in the morning. I keep the food warm in roasting pans and crock-pots.

  
 Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 

Download these templates, free from PaperGlitter.
 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving  
Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 
 

The children gather around the table, recite a poem and say what they are thankful for, and then eat in peace and friendship.

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 

Overall, it's a fun, informative lesson on being thankful; appreciating friends; and exhibiting empathy, tolerance, and acceptance towards others.


 

Have a happy Thanksgiving weekend!

~Allie

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving 
 

Comments (5)

You are to be commended, Allie, for teaching your students about tolerance and respect at such a young age - even if it apparently made one of your readers uncomfortable (although I certainly CANNOT see why). You are laying the building blocks for acceptance, as well as recognition of past mistakes. (And maybe your students will grow up to be children who do not bully.) Those who choose to bury their heads in the sand leave a REALLY bad taste in my mouth.

I don't think that you need to get into the scalping of pioneers, but I do think it is important to have children learn that originally Native Americans were called Indians and how that came to be and why we now call them Native Americans. I also think that there are movies that show them as being mean and killers of the White Man. So I think it is necessary for teachers to explain that initially everyone did get along which was the reason for the Native Americans to be invited to the feast. You don't dwell on the fact that as western expansion came to be, they were no longer "friends," but it should be addressed-just not in explicit detail. In my classroom, I have had Native Americans and I have had members of the local tribe come to the school, join in our feast and perform Native American dances. They never objected to the dressing up of the students.

Krenshaw, did you read the part where she said "I do not intend for it to be"?

What if there was a Native American in her class, and they had a happy feast as if it meant nothing? Sometimes a person's ethnicity and heritage means something to them.

Native American history is part of American history, and should certainly be taught in lessons about diversity. I highly doubt slaughter, bloodshed, and scalping are part of the discussions.

Krenshaw - It is never, ever too early to teach children about tolerance. It is not enough to "wait until they are older" for them to learn that an ethnic group was treated wrongly in history, and how important it is to treat people with respect, as evidenced by the fact that you yourself never learned it. Waiting for someone else to teach children to respect differences is how they grow up to be prejudiced bullies. Some already are.

Many teachers do not teach what happened after the first Thanksgiving. Are you Native American? If you're not sure what there is to be sorrowful for, ask the millions of Native Americans who call Thanksgiving the "National Day of Mourning."

When I talked about being offensive, I meant that I hoped I wasn't being offensive in the way that I presented Native Americans by having the children wear headbands and eat a feast that re-enacts what for many is a sad moment in history.

I'm sorry you took offense to the topic of tolerance and empathy, since it is so obviously needed in this world.

- Allie

not sure what there is to be sorrowful for and it was offensive and you knew it otherwise you would not have made that comment right after the offensive statement. why is it appropriate for young children to learn about how pioneers took their land did you also discuss scalping i think this was totally inappropriate and left a bad taste in my mouth for scholastic at this young age you should focus on thankfulness and family and friends and the feast they had..enough when they are older to learn what both peoples did to each other

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