The autumn season is a beautiful time of year to get your students outside and participate in fall activities. It's also that time of year to send your students sailing back to the Pilgrim times for some Thanksgiving fun!
Use this collection of Thanksgiving activities as a source of inspiration, or to compliment your holiday lesson plans:
A Student Hornbook
Back in the Pilgrim days children did not have schoolbooks they had hornbooks. A hornbook is an thin wooden board with a handle that looks like a paddle. Printed on this paddle was everything a child would need to learn in school. These hornbooks were worn around the child's neck by fastening a rope through the a hole at the bottom of the handle. The students would wear these hornbooks until they learned everything on them.
To give your students a sense of what is was like being a pilgrim child, have each student create their very own hornbook about what they are thankful for. Discuss with the class the luxuries they have now, that the pilgrims did not have back then.
How to Create a Hornbook:
- Cut a large hornbook shape out of brown construction paper. (It should be a square shape with a handle at the bottom similar to what a wooden paddle looks like.)
- On an 8 x 11 sheet of paper title it "I am Thankful For..." and mount it on the hornbook.
- Next display the student hornbooks outside the classroom for all to enjoy throughout the Thanksgiving season.
A Thanksgiving Voyage
It is well known that the pilgrims packed up all of their belongings and took them with them on the Mayflower. Discuss with your students how they would feel if they had to pack up everything that they own and move across the ocean. Ask them to imagine what the pilgrims felt like and what kind of items they think they brought with them.
Once the students have a sense of what it was like to pack up everything and move, now it is time to for them to choose what they would bring with them. In this activity students will create a suitcase and fill it with necessary items.
How to Create a Student Suitcase:
- Trim the edges of an 8 x 11 piece of brown construction paper. Then add a brown handle to the top of the paper so it looks like a suitcase.
- Next have students look through a variety of magazines, newspapers and old books for items that they feel is necessary to bring on the journey.
- Have students choose at least ten items and glue them onto their suitcase.
- Once they have finished, have them share what they choose with their classmates and discuss why they chose what they did.
Extension Activity: Create a bulletin board by placing all of the students suitcases around a ship and title it, "Preparing for Our Voyage."
The first Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated in 1621. Things have changed a lot since then. To give your students a sense of how much things really have changed, create a graphic organizer that compares the past and present Thanksgiving traditions.
For this activity have students create two turkeys, one labeled past and one labeled present. Then brainstorm a few ideas together as a class and have students write the responses on the correlating turkey.
How to Create a Paper Turkey:
- Have students paint a paper plate brown.
- Next, cut feathers out of yellow, red and orange construction paper.
- Finally, glue feathers onto the back of the paper plate.