The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 when Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast. Since then, Thanksgiving has transformed into a national holiday that is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday in November. Explore the rich history and traditions of this holiday with free lesson plans and classroom resources.
This self-paced lesson provides historical context for Thanksgiving and presents students with writing-based activities. This is an activity that students can complete, or it can be assigned as a take-home activity (pending computer and Internet access) for family participation.
The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a national education project that empowers high school students to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder over Thanksgiving weekend using the StoryCorps app. Interviews are entered into the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and on StoryCorps.me where they become an invaluable resource for future historians and provide families with a priceless piece of personal history.
Thanksgiving is a day for us to remember what we're thankful for. Uncover the history behind this holiday with this video from PBS LearningMedia.
Thinking of ways to practice being thankful? Show appreciation for family and friends on Thanksgiving, or any day, with Sesame Street notes.
See how to prepare a meal aboard the International Space Station in this video from NASA. To celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving in space, astronauts often like to eat their own versions of the traditional foods. Specially packaged dehydrated foods, like turkey tetrazzini, can be prepared using hot water.
This video from Discovery Education features the origins of Thanksgiving, a federal holiday observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November. Students will learn about details the events of the first Thanksgiving, as well as the process of establishing the holiday and the development of classic Thanksgiving traditions.
Children learn interesting facts about how harvest festivals are celebrated in various places around the world. The Pilgrim's first year in the New World is described, and a historically accurate reenactment of the harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 is shown in this video from Discovery Education.
Give thanks—for Thanksgiving! This national holiday, celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada, is a day of gratitude for the bounty of the harvest of the previous year. Commonly traced to a 1621 celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the American Thanksgiving has clear historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, but it also is linked to the simple social custom of sharing in the pleasure and good fortune of a bountiful harvest. In this lesson, consider the history and tradition of Thanksgiving and the new interpretations and evolving customs of the holiday in modern times.
Use these lessons and activities from Scholastic to give students a closer look at the Pilgrims' voyage, settlement, and first harvest celebration, as well as the daily life of the Wampanoag.
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