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Curriculum for Relearning Thanksgiving

As you may know, Thanksgiving is a controversial subject for many First Nations people. Regardless of how you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, we invite you to reflect on the past with your students. We’ve highlighted some phenomenal resources that honor indigenous perspectives, providing a more balanced historical account of the events surrounding the “first” Thanksgiving. Encouraging young people to challenge prevailing narratives prepares them for the work of building a more equitable tomorrow.

You Are The Historian |

This resource includes tons of visual and audio aids and is the perfect way for students to tap into their inner historian as they sort through clues to piece together the true story of the Harvest Festival of 1621. This interactive requires Flash Player and the site mentions that users might experience slow loading times due to the high level of interest. You can avoid this by downloading the application. We think it’s well worth it! Access the Teacher’s Guide here

Suggested Grades: 3-5

Common Core Standards:

RI.2.3 RI.3.3 RI.3.7 RI.4.1 RI.4.3 RI.5.3 RI.5.6

Wampanoag Celebrations | Aquinnah Cultural Center

There’s more than one way to give thanks and the Wampanoag have a way of showing their gratitude that has been practiced since way before the first Europeans arrived. This lesson plan teaches students all about the Wampanoag thanks-giving celebrations of the past and present through primary source documents, writing prompts, online research and even a cooking lesson!

Suggested Grades: 3-5

Common Core Standards: 

RI.3.1 RI.3.3 RI.3.5 RI.4.1 RI.4.3 RI.5.3 RI.5.7 

The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods | PBS Learning Media

If we were transported back in time to dine with some indigenous people, we might be surprised by what would end up on our plates. This video explores the history of animal domestication and farming in the Americas before European contact, and gives more information about turkey poop than you ever thought you’d need.

Suggested Grades: 6-8

Common Core Standards: 

SL.6.2 SL.7.2 

Myths and Truth: The 1st Thanksgiving | ReadWriteThink

Spark dialogue in your classroom about the myths associated with the “first Thanksgiving.” This lesson asks for students to think critically about what they’ve heard about this event and consider the differences between common lore and historical fact. They’ll then engage in a “myth-breaking” process and share their discoveries in group presentations.

Suggested Grades: 6-8

Common Core Standards: 

RH.6-8.1 RH.6-8.6 RH.6-8.8 

SL.6.1 SL.6.4 SL.7.1 SL.7.4 SL.8.1 SL.8.4

Eboni Hogan

Content Specialist

Eboni has extensive experience in curriculum development, with a focus on culturally-responsive and arts-based approaches. Having spent years creating academic content and providing professional development to teachers, she now curates themed playlists meant to provide educators with valuable, time-saving resources.