Chloe Kaplan, Ashley Embler, Jillian Donner


How did Thanksgiving begin? Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Who declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday? Pretend you are a Pilgrim as you take a journey on the Mayflower. Think about the trouble you would have gone through during this long journey. What are the similarities and differences between pilgrim children and children today? In this lesson, you will be taught a day in the life of a Pilgrim and how Thanksgiving came to be what it is today. After this lesson you will have a clear understanding of a typical day in the life during the year of 1621 on Thanksgiving.


The Task:
The learners will be able to define the meaning of Thanksgiving as well as understand where it came from. The task is as follows:

-Students will brainstorm what they know about Thanksgiving / Pilgrims as a collective class and make a written list

-Visit a website about Thanksgiving to learn about the journey on the Mayflower

-Take a vocabulary quiz on a website

-Go through a slide show about what was eaten on Thanksgiving

-Draw a Venn diagram of what you eat with your family and what the pilgrims eat as well as the similarities

-Research books and websites to find out a typical day in the life of a pilgrim

-A skit from online will be printed out and acted in class in groups

-Write a letter to their family about what they learned and what they are thankful for as well as drawing a picture of their own Thanksgiving


The Process:

1. Work as an entire class to brainstorm and make a K-W-L chart about Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. This will be used as a tool to help guide the rest of the history lesson.
2. Break up into groups of 2-3 students per computer screen. Go to and take a virtual tour of The Mayflower. You will get a better understanding of ancient humans and defining what their specific roles were. Make sure each student has a turn to use the mouse for the interaction of the tour and time lines.
3. After the tour you will have a better understanding of the vocabulary terms being used in the lesson. You will take a short online vocabulary quiz independently from . While the individual student is taking the vocabulary quiz the other 1-2 students will look on to another group still working on the virtual tour.
4. View a slide show of the food that was eaten on the first Thanksgiving from . While viewing this slide show you should make a written list of similarities and differences in the choice of food that is prepared.
5. Take your lists and construct a Venn diagram that will depict the differences of Thanksgiving meals.
6. You will have some library research time to find out how tribes survived and what they did in a typical day of living.
7. Print out a skit from and break up into your groups again and join with another group of 2-3. Assign yourselves roles in the skit and act out what you have learned about the Pilgrims, the Pilgrim's lives, a typical day, and what they did to celebrate Thanksgiving.
8. As a wrap up to the lesson, individually write a letter to your family about what you are thankful for this year. Draw a picture of your Thanksgiving scene, decorate the letter in fall colors, and take it home to share what you have learned about the Pilgrims.


Evaluation: The following chart shows how you will be grading on your project. You will be graded individually on working well with others and participation. You will be graded as a group on your ability to differentiate between present and past.

Working Well with Others You understand that the project is done as a group, but cannot work on it together with classmates, only separate.You work with other group members on a certain topic, but not on the lesson as a whole.You understand how to share and get along with all group members. Allows others to do work as well as also contributing him/herself.Has no problems working groups, almost if it comes naturally. Has patience and works well in every situation with group members. Also knows how to accommodate to the needs of every group member.
Ability to differentiate between past and present You understand that Thanksgiving was long ago, but cannot connect it to Thanksgiving today that we celebrate. Can connect the past Thanksgiving with the pilgrims but needs help on the idea that we are still celebrating the same holiday today. You understand all levels of Thanksgiving, how it started and why we still celebrate it today. Students understands all aspects of Thanksgiving including where it began, who was involved, why it is important and the many journeys taken.
Lack of peer cooperation. You do not feel that you have to participate in any of the activities with the group. Isolates yourself from theothers. You do not share, listen, or comment to any of the ideas given. You sometimes are aware of the groups progress. You know some information on the topics. You sometimes cooperate and involve yourself in the discussions. You usually contributed to the conversations. You usually had ideas to share. You were usually aware of what was going with the group. You were a good team member just not at all times.
You always work well with others. You contributed to the group the entire time. Work is completed on time. You listened as well as shared many ideas. You were aware of the groups progress at all times. You were a group team player.



When you are finished, you will have a better understanding of the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. You will have learned about their food, a typical day in the life, and their journey on the Mayflower. The skit from online will have been printed and acted out in class in groups of 4-6. You will also have created a Venn diagram of what you eat on Thanksgiving compared to the what the Pilgrims eat. Also, you will have written a letter to your family about what you learned and what you are thankful for. Lastly, you will have drawn a picture of your own Thanksgiving. You are all Pilgrims!


Credits & References:




This 3rd grade lesson is about Thanksgiving so your students will get a better understanding of what it is. The first task to be completed by students is to discuss as a group what they know about Thanksgiving, what they want to know about Thanksgiving, and what they have learned throughout the lesson. Second, the students will learn about the journey on the Mayflower by watching a video that describes what happened on the Pilgrim's long journey. Following the video, the students will take a vocabulary quiz on some of the terms they might have not known before they took the Mayflower tour. Students will then be able to watch a slide show to see what was eaten on the first Thanksgiving. This will help the students to decipher differences of what they eat on Thanksgiving, and what the pilgrims ate. These similarities and differences will be constructed into a Venn Diagram. Schedule library time for your class to research the Pilgrim's lives more in depth. Students can use books, encyclopedias, articles, and other websites to reinforce the information they have already learned. While in the library students can find a skit to act out in groups to express in a dramatized event what they have learned.Lastly, each student will get the opportunity to put in writing what they have learned about the pilgrims and tell their families what they are thankful for. The multiple intelligences addressed will be Interpersonal, verbal-linguistic, and Intrapersonal. Interpersonal is addressed because the lesson has to do with working with others in groups, which helps them to be more outgoing in the future. Verbal-linguistic is addressed because the students will learn to take what they have learned from the website and take notes to construct their Venn diagram. The students will be able to explain the cause and effects of the Pilgrims way of life after completing this lesson. Intrapersonal intelligence is addressed because this helps the students be able to answer the questions of Why did the pilgrims eat what they did? Why is what we eat so much different than what the pilgrims ate? How are our daily lives differently than the Pilgrims?


The target grade level for this lesson is 3rd grade. This lesson could easily extend to as high as the 5th grade level. Students will be studying the areas of History, Reading, and Writing. The students will also gain more knowledge of computer skills, as well as dramatic role playing.


- 8.1.3.A Understand chronological thinking and distinguish between past, present and future time.

-8.1.3.D Understand historical research.

-8.4.3 C Compare similarities and differences between earliest civilizations and life today

-1.2.3 B Use and understand a variety of media and evaluate the quality of material produced

-1.3.3 E Identify the structures in drama (e.g., dialogue, story enactment, acts, scenes)

-1.4.3 B Write informational pieces (e.g., descriptions, letters, reports, instructions) using illustrations when relevant

-1.6.3 E Participate in small and large group discussions and presentations.

Reflection on Standards

Students can use a wide variety of tools and resources to help gain a better perspective on the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. Finding differences between the past and present helps with the better understanding of daily living. Using the websites, time lines, and tours will have the students have a different way of understanding the historical research being presented to them. Different media being used will be effective in making the lesson different and fun, more so than what they are used to. Acting out scenes and using scenarios will get the students to interact with each other and use other forms of learning such as drama and art. Combining history lessons and writing pieces is a great tool in making sure the information they have learned from the other lessons was relevant and factual. Also, using small and large groups allows the students to interact and learn as a group and well as contributing to the overall goal of learning about the subject matter.


Printed materials are the same as the teacher created materials for this lesson. They would be the K-W-L chart that the students will complete. A Venn Diagram will also be printed out for the students to construct. Reference materials will be the Internet, the students own textbooks, and research books from the library. Supplies that are needed would be paper, pencils, art supplies for the letters, and optional costumes for the dramatic roles in the skits. The class would need access to computers. The computers would need audio speakers to be functioning. A lot of these activities require the use of a computer and the Internet. It might be beneficial to have another teacher in the room to implement this lesson to help with any technology problems that might arise, as well as control during the skits.

Internet Resources:


The lesson on the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving will be successful if the students can come away from the lesson knowing a distinction between a day in the life of Pilgrims and a day of their life in the year 2009. The celebration of Thanksgiving has many differences and similarities from the year 1621 and present day. The students are being evaluated in a few different ways. The K-W-L chart is the first form that the teacher can gain perspective on whether or not the student has an understanding of the background of the Pilgrims. After the virtual tour of the Mayflower, and the slide show of Thanksgiving the students will be evaluated by the vocabulary quiz. Another form of evaluation of the students would be the completion of the Venn diagram. If the students can differentiate the differences between the two Thanksgiving meals then that part of the lesson was successful. The skit being performed is a good tool in evaluating if the students were able to understand the daily life of the Pilgrims (i.e. what were the chores? how did they interact with each other? what were their common goals?) Lastly, as a written activity the students will be writing letters of thanks and what they have learned throughout the lesson to their families. If the students understood their tasks and topic then the letters will be accurate and sufficient. The standards incorporated with this lesson deal with thinking between past, present, and future; similarities and differences, media, use of drama, and writing informational pieces while working as a group.

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