Students will see beyond the kids table as they research the significance of Thanksgiving.
Honor Your Elders
In the spirit of the Wampanoag tradition of honoring elders, encourage children to make a simple craft: appreciation banners for the senior citizens in your community. First, brainstorm as a class ways in which local elders helped to shape the heritage and history of your community. Make sure students have a copy of the list of the contributions, or make sure the list is visible while students make the craft. Then hand out 1' x 3' paper, pencils, colored markers, and other craft materials. Once students have finished making their thank-yous, arrange a visit to a local retirement center to deliver the banners!
Make a Pledge
The Wampanoag viewed themselves as caretakers of the land, not as its owners. They respected the land's resources in order to preserve them for future generations. Remind students that, similarly, classroom property belongs to the school community — not just to your class — and should be used with respect for future students. Encourage children to write pledges to take care of the items entrusted to them. Then have them top their pledges with cutouts of their own hands raised in a pledge position. You can extend this activity by having children discuss the resources available to the larger community. Ask them to brainstorm ways in which they can take care of their neighborhood and natural environment, such as by volunteering and picking up litter.
Eating with fingers might horrify Miss Manners today, but this was common practice during Pilgrim times. Encourage your students to research additional Colonial customs, using resources such as Lucille Recht Penner's Eating the Plates (MacMillan, 1991). Ask them to list their findings on chart paper and compare each with customs of today. Then, invite children to use the Thanksgiving: Then and Now printable to create booklets comparing modern mealtimes to the manners at the Pilgrim table.
To make the booklets, guide children through these steps:
- Color and cut out the patterns and fact strips. Draw a picture or place a photo of yourself inside the dotted circles.
- Write "Thanksgiving: Then and Now" at the top center of a sheet of construction paper. Cut white paper to the size of the patterns. Stack four pages behind each pattern and place along a bottom corner of the construction paper. Staple the pages along the side edge.
- Glue one fact strip to each page on the Pilgrim Times side of the booklet. Illustrate it, then write and illustrate a corresponding fact from today on each Today page. Write a paragraph about your own Thanksgiving traditions above the booklet.