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  • Becky Carlisle Cothern

The Best Way to Teach the First Thanksgiving for Early Childhood

Teaching about the first Thanksgiving in an Early Childhood classroom can be difficult for these young students to understand. Too many details and they get scared, not enough details and they don't understand the differences in culture, dress, and settlements. How can an educator teach young minds about the first Thanksgiving in a way that is developmentally appropriate and knowledgeable? Here are some ideas and resources to help you this season.

1. Books

Books are a great resource to teach any subject. Especially if you can find books that contain great information in a developmentally appropriate story. One of my favorite for preschool age children is, "The First Thanksgiving" by Nancy Davis. All of these books below are great for children preschool- 2nd grade.

2. Comprehension Cards

Use pictures to assess students comprehension of the text. Lay the picture cards face up. Read one of the comprehension questions. Have the students find the picture that answers the question. Using pictures is a great way to assess early learning before they are able to read and write independently. For first and second grade use the cards for interactive journals. Students tape the question in their notebooks and then lift the flap to reveal the picture underneath.

3. Compare & Contrast: Native Americans & Pilgrims

Compare and contrast the two main character groups in the Thanksgiving story. How were the pilgrims and Native Americans the same? How were they different? How were they like us? How were they different from us today? Comparing and Contrasting these two groups of people will help us relate to them even though they lived in a different time and place.

4. Pilgrim Non-fiction Writing

Have students make a pilgrim boy or girl. Then have them write different facts about what they have learned. For the youngest learners they can make the pilgrim and then just talk about what they have learned about pilgrims.

5. Native American Opinion Writing

Would you have helped the pilgrims if you were a Native American? Why or why not? Students can make a Native American boy or girl and either write or talk about their opinions.

6. Emergent Readers

After learning about The First Thanksgiving, students can make their own emergent reader to take home. Students can now share the story with their families.

All of these activites plus many more are in my resource, "The First Thanksgiving" available on my TPT store.

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