Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast Lesson Plan
This nonfiction book provides a unique interpretation of the first Thanksgiving by telling the story through the point of view of a Pilgrim boy and a Wampanoag Indian boy.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
About this book
Using nonfiction, students will learn about feasting days shared by English settlers and Wampanoag Indians sometime in late 1621.
Standard: Students will gain an understanding of the cultural and ecological interactions among previously unconnected people resulting from early European exploration and colonization.
Subject Area: Social Studies, History
Reading Level: 4.0
Historians agree that there wasn't one single first Thanksgiving Day celebration. There were, in fact, many meals shared by English settlers and their Native neighbors. Photographed at Plimoth Plantation, a living-history museum, this engaging book captures what one such feast might have been like.
Food for Thought
Capture your students' interest with a snack!
- If possible, arrange time for your classroom to visit your school's Home Economics room or cafeteria.
- Follow the directions for the samp recipe from the back of the book or make a favorite simple dish associated with Thanksgiving: corn bread or pudding can be used.
- Back in your classroom, gather in a circle and allow students to eat while you read the story aloud. Be sure to share the pictures!
In the past, colony leaders and presidents declared Thanksgiving days whenever something important had occurred. For what is your class thankful?
- Distribute slips of paper and pencils to your students.
- Place a box or bag on your desk
- Ask students to think about one thing for which they are grateful and write it on the slip of paper. Allow your class some time for this step.
- Have students place their slips of paper in the box or bag.
- At the end of the class period or end of the day, set aside some time to read the anonymous slips aloud.
- The early settlers were thankful for food and shelter; how different are the things for which your students are thankful? Discuss as a class.
What's on the Menu?
Many foodstuffs have changed since 1621; some have remained the same.
- Dancing Moccasin and Resolved White ate some interesting food. Using the book as a guide, have your students come up with a sample menu for the "first" Thanksgiving feast.
- Next, ask each student to create a menu for a modern-day celebration. Samples could include Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Purim, etc.
- Have each student read his or her menu aloud to the class.
- Hold a class discussion about what foods are similar today and what foods are different. Ask students for theories as to why some items are the same and why some are different.
More Books About Thanksgiving
Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols
By Edna Barth
The story of this most truly American celebration, and the development of its symbols and legends.
By Joseph Bruchac
Patuxet Indian Squanto played a vital role in helping the English settlers survive, even after he was captured and sent to Spain and then England. This lovely picture book presents Squanto's side of history.
Nickommoh: A Thanksgiving Celebration
By Jackie French Koller
Giving thanks was a common practice for Native Americans. Here Nickommoh, a Narragansett tribe celebration, is captured in text and art.
More Books About Children of the 1620s by Kate Waters
Meticulously researched, well written, and handsomely photographed at living-history museums, each title presents life in the 1620s from a different vantage point.
- Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl
- Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy
- Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times
- On the Mayflower: Voyage of the Ship's Apprentice and a Passenger Girl
This teaching plan was written by Rebecca Gómez.