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November 8, 2011 Thanksgiving Classroom Books and Bulletin Board By Jeremy Brunaccioni
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Hi everyone.  Can you believe it’s already time to be planning for lessons about the holidays? It seems like we were just on summer vacation!  Before we jump into some Thanksgiving titles, I want to share some pictures of the bulletin board my kindergarten class created based on Il Sung Na’s Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit from my last post.




    After my students cut out wallpaper leaves, we stapled them to birch “trees” made with real bark.

    It may be difficult to tell but we bent some of the leaves to give a more three-dimensional feeling to the display.

    OK, now onto our book picks for this week!

    Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners
    By Lucille Recht Penner

    This book has been one of my Thanksgiving favorites for as long as I can remember. It’s a super resource for teachers and can be used to varying degrees with students.  The author goes into detail about what the Pilgrims ate onboard the Mayflower, as well as what they had in Plimoth and she even throws in some recipes that can be used in the classroom. Kids can’t resist tidbits like, “Some of the Pilgrims preferred to eat at night.  In the dark, they couldn’t see the bugs crawling on their food.”

    Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times
    By Kate Waters
    Photographs by Russ Kendall

    This is such a great series of books.  (Sarah Morton and Samuel Eaton are two others.) Kate Waters and Russ Kendall truly bring the time period to life, a task not easy to do, especially when you’re trying to teach young children about history. The high quality photographs can be used individually to generate conversations on topics from clothing to food.

    …If You Sailed on the Mayflower
    By Ann McGovern
    Illustrated by Anna DiVito

    This is another great book to help you with background knowledge and to use with your students.  The pages are set up under various headings including:

    “What was the first thing the Pilgrims did when they got onshore?”
    “Did the Pilgrims have any medicine?”
    “Were there special jobs for boys and girls?”
    Any of these headings offer a great way to begin a conversation about the various aspects of Pilgrim life.

    Turkey Trouble
    By Wendi Silvano
    Illustrated by Lee Harper
    Marshall Cavendish

    Students enjoy the antics of this crazy turkey, as he tries to disguise himself from the farmer.  Dressing as a cow, sheep and pig, he has no luck finding the right look, until the comical ending. My students especially got a kick out of the turkey dressed as a sheep.  He ends up looking like a crazed poodle.

    ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
    By Dav Pilkey

    I’m sure you’re familiar with Dav Pilkey from his Dragon series but you don’t want to miss this gem.  It tells the tale of some children on a fieldtrip who are horrified to learn that the turkeys will be served for Thanksgiving.  The children manage to free the birds from Farmer MacNugget and bring them back to the city to celebrate a meat free meal. I’ve used this as a whole school read aloud, with my students acting out the story, while I narrate.



    This is an activity that the kids love and with some planning in the spring, you can make it even more exciting.  For this bean activity, I supply the children with dried bean pods from the garden.  We usually have a variety of heirloom beans that the previous kindergarten students planted in the spring.  After the children shell the beans, they sort them by color or size. If you don’t have bean pods handy, buy a variety of dry shelled beans at the market.  You can usually find them in bulk at the health food store.

    Once the beans are sorted, they can be used for art, math or cooking projects.  You could also try growing some in the classroom or setting some aside to plant in the spring. It’s a great opportunity to talk about one of the ways the Pilgrims preserved their food.



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Susan Cheyney