Every year that we have Thanksgiving School, I organize it a little differently. This year, I decided to do seven days’ worth of themes, since we’ll be learning about Thanksgiving this week, plus two days next week. The themes are:
- Native Americans
- The Mayflower Voyage
- The First Thanksgiving
- Civil War/Pioneer Era Thanksgiving Celebrations
- Modern Day Thanksgiving Celebrations
- Thanksgiving Fun
I’ve selected three read-alouds for each day, and some days we’ll also have additional activities, such as crafts, games, and movies. Our first day was very busy, as we had a craft, a game, a movie, and a special food incorporated into our theme…I wanted to have a wide variety of activities since Moose had the day off of school and was able to join in the fun.
Before our read-alouds, we refreshed our memories about Native American in general by looking at two books: North American Indians and Native Homes. These books reminded us of some of the different North American Indian tribes, where in the country they lived, and what kind of homes they built. After we discussed these basics, we read about three different Indians, two real (Pocahontas and Squanto), and one fictional (Tapenum).
We used the book More than Moccasins for both our game (a game of chance played with sticks), and our ethnic food of the day (Indian fry bread). This is an excellent book that I’ve used for different ideas over the course of the last several years. There are tons of great suggestions for games, foods, and craft projects, usually with a little history thrown in. There are also many other books in this series, looking at different periods of history and different groups of people…they’re great resources to have when you’re in search of something to make a lesson extra-memorable!
For our craft, we made Indian corn decorations. We made two-dimensional Indian corn using a paper tearing technique, but you could also make three-dimensional Indian corn using toilet paper tubes. The paper tearing is optional either way…you could always cut neat squares instead!
We watched the Peanuts Mayflower Voyages special as well. This could have waited until our Mayflower Day (tomorrow), but I wanted to make sure we watched it with Moose, and a decent part of the movie focuses on Squanto, so it still fit with the theme for the day. I’m always surprised by how accurate a children’s show can be, but it is very true to the story of the first Thanksgiving, with a little creative license in the way of characters (especially one well-known beagle!).