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Resources for Teaching the History of Thanksgiving

Teaching History: ThanksgivingTurkey and stuffing, pumpkin pie, family gatherings, lists of that for which we are thankful…the warm and cozy harbingers of the Thanksgiving season are upon us. For homeschoolers, it is an excellent opportunity to teach children the history of those who first came to America, and to focus on the events and sacrifices the Pilgrims faced in coming to this new land. When making your Thanksgiving plans this season, check out these resources to make the history of the holiday meaningful.

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  1. Mayflowerhistory.com.This website is perfect for multiple ages, and includes history and information about the Mayflower, Pilgrims, and Plymouth Colony. Includes the Mayflower passenger list, a cross-section of the Mayflower, information on life in Plymouth, letters written by the Pilgrims, and much more!
  2. The First Thanksgiving, by Linda Hayward. Early readers can learn all about the first Thanksgiving with this Step-Into-Reading book. Includes the Pilgrims’ reasons for leaving England, journey across the sea and difficulties surviving in Plymouth, as well as their relationship with the Native Americans, and the Thanksgiving feast. Perfect for young elementary children to read on their own, preschoolers will also benefit from having this book read to them!
  3. Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. This family book is perfect for using year after year to revisit the history and meaning of Thanksgiving. Written from a Christian perspective, the beautifully illustrated volume weaves the history of the Pilgrims with the thread of God’s provision, and includes a section for writing down God’s blessings within your own family. The book is intended to be read aloud, and each chapter includes a section for young children and a section for older children and adults. A CD of Thanksgiving songs is included.
  4. The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty. Newbery Medal winner Daugherty chronicles the history of the Separatists in an engaging story format, based upon the journals of the Pilgrims. Perfect for older elementary school students and middle schoolers, this detailed account begins with William Bradford and covers all the major events of the history of Thanksgiving.
  5. The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh. Preschool and elementary aged children will enjoy the illustrations and simple, yet well-told story of the events surrounding the first Thanksgiving. A Caldecott Honor Book, the story personalizes the history from the perspective of three children who came to America on the Mayflower – Giles, Constance, and Damaris Hopkins.
  6. Scholastic.com. All ages will enjoy this incredibly informative website. Take an interactive journey with the Mayflower, and watch videos that tell about each part of the journey. Learn about the food, chores, clothing and other aspects of daily life for the Pilgrims. Or find lesson plans for all ages related to Thanksgiving. Hear letters read by Pilgrims and Wampanoag, and watch a slideshow of the Thanksgiving feast. This site will fascinate children and adults alike, and provides excellent historical information.
  7. Uncle Rick Reads The Story of the Pilgrims for Children by Roland G. Usher. If you’re tired of reading books about Thanksgiving, put in this CD and have children listen on their own! Veteran homeschooler Rick Boyer reads this book, which personalizes true accounts of the Pilgrims for children, in his trademark engaging conversational style. Children up through middle school can enjoy this 2 hour CD. By popping in this CD at bedtime or while riding in the car, children can learn the history of Thanksgiving without any effort by Mom!

For more ideas on making the most of Thanksgiving in the home school, including games, arts and crafts, books, and websites, click here!

Rebecca Capuano

Rebecca Capuano is the stay-at-home mom of three children (one of whom is in heaven) who also makes attempts at being a homeschooler, writer, photographer, scrapbooker, and truth-seeker. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She currently resides in Virginia, and has written on a variety of topics for both Examiner.com and Home Educators Association of Virginia. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity. In addition to reading her posts at TheHomeSchoolMom, you can follow her search for truth (and blunders along the way) in family, faith and culture by visiting her blog, seeluminosity.com.

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