Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Teaching Thanksgiving Through Interactive Lessons & Stations

Just in time for November, we've created a fresh, new way for students to learn about Thanksgiving!  We're calling these lesson plans, "Thanksgiving: A Living Story" because students will participate in activities that make the history of Thanksgiving meaningful and relevant to them.
1st-3rd grade students will discover the history of Thanksgiving through interactive, hands-on, teacher-directed mini lessons.
During each mini-lesson, the teacher reads a script to present facts relevant to a Thanksgiving topic while showing a visual picture card. After a short class discussion, students are able to take a closer look at each of the topics and become part of the "living story" by participating in a variety of interactive activities. 

Younger Grade Mini-lesson Topics and Activities
Lesson #1- The Mayflower: Narrated tableaus
Lesson #2- The First Winter: Pilgrim charades
Lesson #3- Samoset & Squanto: Reader's Theater
Lesson #4- Thanksgiving Feast:  Venn Diagram food sort
Lesson #1 Examples of Tableaus

Lesson #2 Examples of Charades

Lesson #3 Two Levels of Reader's Theater 
Lesson #4 Venn Diagram Food Sort

After these lessons, students also have a chance to play a version of a game that Pilgrim children may have played.  Our version is called Three Men's Morris (based on Nine Men's Morris, which was very popular at the time of the first Thanksgiving) and is similar to tic-tac-toe.
One of the  Pilgrim games students can learn to play

4th-6th grade students will explore the history of Thanksgiving as they rotate in small groups through independent learning stations.
At each station students read a short informational text accompanied by a visual picture card and take notes on their learning.  Students then become part of the "living story" as they complete an assigned group task related to the text.
Student note-taking sheet for the learning stations

Upper Grade Independent Learning Stations
Station #1- The Mayflower
  • Students read about the Mayflower, take notes, then create narrated group tableaus depicting the Pilgrims' journey
Station #1 Example of group performing a tableau
Station #1 Tableau storyboard group planning sheet

Station #2- First Winter
  • Students read about the first winter, take notes, and play charades demonstrating the hardships of the Pilgrims' first winter in America
Task Cards guide students at each station
Example of Station #2 "First Winter"

Station #3- Samoset & Squanto
Station #3 Two Levels of Reader's Theater
  • Students read about two Native Americans who were influential in helping the Pilgrims thrive in their new home, take notes, then practice and perform a reader's theater of Squanto teaching the Pilgrims how to plant crops 

Station #4- Thanksgiving Feast
  • Students read about the first Thanksgiving, take notes, then complete a Venn diagram sorting foods at the first Thanksgiving, foods from Thanksgiving today, and foods found at both feasts.
Food Venn Diagram from Station #4 "Thanksgiving Feast"

Station #5- (optional) Pilgrim Games- 
  • Directions for "Three Men's Morris" and "Blind Man's Bluff" are provided for this optional 5th station.  Both of these games were popular at the time of the first Thanksgiving and may have been games that Pilgrim children would have played.

Your students will love to engage in these lessons and activities while becoming part of Thanksgiving's "living story." Head on over to our TPT store to get the 1st-3rd or 4th-6th grade 
Thanksgiving Lesson Plans today!

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