There are different legends that have arisen surrounding the Pilgrims, the Wampanoags, and the First Thanksgiving. While facts and myths have been woven together for many years about the origin of the national holiday, we can still celebrate the message of thankfulness, friendship, and harvest with our students.
Use a storyboard to retell the story of Thanksgiving. For younger students, read a story and have the students make a summary of the story with six parts (as below), or with a Beginning/Middle/End structure. Have your older students research different versions of the Thanksgiving story or historical accounts, and let them create a short narrative of their findings.
Below is an example of what a short historical narrative might look like.
The Church of England, headed by the king himself, was the national religion in England in the late 1500s and 1600s. Those who did not follow it were often treated badly.
A group of Separatists, people who wanted to separate from the official church, left England for religious freedom and went to Holland. Then after a few years, these "pilgrims" sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.
After a two-month journey, the Pilgrims landed in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. They built a settlement there. They were free to practice their own religion, but they did not have enough supplies to feed themselves for long.
Soon, the Pilgrims met the Wampanoag tribe, who are already living in the Massachusetts Bay area. They helped the Pilgrims get through the tough, first winter.
The Native Americans also taught the Pilgrims many important skills, such as planting and growing corn.
The Wampanoags and Pilgrims joined together in a feast celebrating and giving thanks for the harvest. Their hard work meant they would have food for the winter.
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