Tuesday, February 01, 2011


We took a brief break from Five in a Row to spend a week learning about Thanksgiving. I had two books I wanted to use to introduce the story: The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George, illustrated by Thomas Locker and N.C. Wyeth's Pilgrims, text by Robert San Souci. These books have beautiful painted illustrations, but the texts are too long and detailed for a kindergarten attention span. So I skipped back and forth between the books, showing the pictures and telling the story in my own words. After spending a couple days retelling the story, looking at the pictures and reading aloud easier Thanksgiving books, we made Pilgrim and Indian puppets and acted out the events of the Pilgrims coming to America. We used the living room floor as the Atlantic Ocean, a book was the Mayflower and the couch stood in as Plymouth. K was very interested in the ad-libbed Thanksgiving story and used the puppets to act out the story on her own later.

Another activity we did this year was make a Thanksgiving Tree. This is an idea from Five in a Row Holiday. I made a tree using a template I found online (sorry, now I can't find the one I used) and had K cut out a bunch of leaf shapes. About a week before Thanksgiving we all wrote down things we were thankful for, one blessing per leaf. K did her own, B and I also thought of things and wrote them down, and we "helped" T think of things for his leaves. We taped each of the leaves to the tree. Then each night after dinner, K got to choose 3 or 4 leaves to take off the tree and and B led us in a prayer thanking God for these gifts. Then the leaves were placed at the base of the tree. When Thanksgiving came, we were aware of our many blessings and the tree was now empty with the leaves "fallen" around it. This was a wonderful way to focus on our blessings and I think we will continue this tradition from year to year.

Finally, to finish our Thanksgiving unit, we had a simple feast. First we made Pilgrim hats for everyone to wear. One of the teddy bears got be an Indian. Then I made popcorn using the air popper--which was pretty exciting to our feast goers. K and T thought the feast was delicious. They still ask when we will have another one. We also played a version of the bowl game, which was being played by the Wampanoag at the time of the first Thanksgiving.

Altogether, it was a fun unit and it was good to have the time to teach K the heritage and meaning of this holiday.

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