Thanksgiving Lessons that Focus on the REAL History of Thanksgiving!

     I can still remember tracing my hand in elementary school and making the most marvelous colorful turkey.  I also have fond memories of the construction paper headbands we constructed and wore the day before Thanksgiving break.  I can remember my teachers talking about the story of Thanksgiving and how the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared an amazing meal and began a friendship that would last many years.
     But looking back, it was clear that we most likely didn't get the whole story and what we were taught was misleading and inaccurate.  
     Many educators today have chosen to sway away from the traditional teachings of the "Thanksgiving Story" and focus on the "being thankful" aspect of the holiday.  They lean more towards Thanksgiving is a time for family and being grateful for all that we have.
     In order to really understand the celebration of Thanksgiving, students would need to have a better understanding of the history of Native Americans in our country including the culture of Wampanoag people and the civilizations that lived in the Plymouth area before the colonists arrived.  
     Most teachers don't want to tread on water so they keep their Thanksgiving lessons simple. I've created one lesson that invites students to take an in depth look at how Native Americans view Thanksgiving in our country.  Students utilize higher level thinking skills as they read several editorials with different viewpoints from Native Americans and Americans from other cultural backgrounds.  Students are introduced to different viewpoints of the traditional Thanksgiving and are asked to answer thought provoking questions to analyze each response.
    With this activity, students will also be asked to determine the meaning of vocabulary words and what context clues were used to determine the meaning.  At the end of the lesson several opinions are given by different people stating their viewpoint as to whether or not the settlers were right or wrong to do what they did. The students respond to each opinion.
     I have used this activity for the past two years and my students have left this lesson with a new understanding of what the traditional Thanksgiving means to different cultures in our country.  Most of my students developed a new type of empathy for the treatment of Native Americans during the time of the original Thanksgiving.
     This resource is available in my store and I've included a link below if you'd like to purchase it:

     In my store I also offer a differentiated menu of Native American research and writing projects that provide an opportunity for students to develop a deeper understanding of the Native American culture.
     This resource is available in my store and I've included a link below if you'd like to purchase it: