Search form


ThanksgivingThinking about Thanksgiving:
Lessons across the curriculum


Are you teaching about the "First Thanksgiving" as it is written in many childrens books, or are you teaching about it as it really happened? This week, Education World helps put Thanksgiving in perspective and challenges students to "think about Thanksgiving." Included: Lessons that teach science, math, geography, foreign languages, more!

Teaching about Thanksgiving presents some very unique challenges. The biggest challenge lies in providing students with a balanced telling of the story of the Pilgrims first harvest in the New World. Indeed, many childrens books tell the traditional Thanksgiving story from the perspective of the Pilgrim settlers. The point of view of the Wampanoags, the Indian tribe that befriended those settlers, is often ignored.

We even refer to that Thanksgiving in 1621 as the "First Thanksgiving" when, in reality, the Wampanoags had been celebrating the annual harvest for many years and people in many other cultures had been putting on feasts of thanksgiving for centuries.

This week Education World presents four lessons to challenge students to think about Thanksgiving -- about the real Thanksgiving story, about the holidays true meaning, and about turkeys too!

A Feast of
Thanksgiving Lessons!

While we searched the Web for great Thanksgiving resources to share with you, Education World editors harvested more than a dozen holiday-related lesson plans. Click here to feast on those lessons!

Two lessons for teaching about Thanksgiving

Click on each of the four lesson headlines below for a complete teaching resource. (Appropriate grade levels for each lesson appear in parentheses.)

Squanto's science lesson
This hands-on science activity proves what a great help Squanto was to the early settlers. (Grades PreK-5)

Say "thank you" in 100 languages!
Put the "Thanks" back in Thanksgiving with this geography and language activity that teaches students to say "thank you" in many languages. (Grades K-8)

Additional technology resources

Below you will find a variety of unique resources that might help you add a new twist to your Thanksgiving lessons. And don't miss the additional lesson plans we have collected for you.

Caleb Johnson's Mayflower web pages
One of the most thorough sources of great information for students and teachers.

Thanksgiving in American memory
The Library of Congress offers links to primary sources and a Thanksgiving timeline.

The Plymouth Colony Archive Project
This thesis project offers some insight into the early settlement of Plymouth.

Thanksgiving Day parade
A behind-the-scenes look at the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Veggies unite
Consider the holiday from the vegetarian perspective. Learn about do's and don'ts for making vegetarians feel included on Thanksgiving or any day.

Thanksgiving jokes
And Thanksgiving joke cards too!


Updated 11/07/2015