Introduction: Prior to beginning the lesson: (1) Obtain a copy of Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruhac; (2) Photocopy Thanksgiving Venn Diagram onto transparency paper for the overhead projector; (3) Photocopy Thanksgiving Venn Diagram (1 per student).


Group Size: Whole Class


Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to:

·          Give an accurate description of the first Thanksgiving feast.

·          Explain the role of Wampanoag Native Americans in the first Thanksgiving.

·          Relate the story of the first Thanksgiving to their own Thanksgiving celebrations.


Materials: Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruhac, Thanksgiving Venn Diagram (see attachment), overhead projector.



1.       Tell students: Today we are going to talk about Thanksgiving. Most of you probably already know the story of Thanksgiving. Who was at the first Thanksgiving celebration? Give students time to answer Pilgrims and Native Americans.

2.       Ask students: We have learned about many different Native American groups. Does anybody know which Native Americans celebrated Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims? Give students time to make guesses, and then tell them: Wampanoag Native Americans.

3.       Ask students: Before we begin, I want you tell me what you already know about Thanksgiving? Make a list of students’ ideas on the board. Display vocabulary card “Pilgrim”, and tell students: Pilgrims were people from England that came to North American to live new lives.

4.       Read Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving out loud to students. Pause during story to discuss the role of the Wampanoag Native Americans. Make sure students understand the Pilgrims depended on the Wampanoag tribe to survive in North America.

5.       Display vocabulary card “Squanto”. Ask students: Who was Squanto? Give students time so share ideas. Make sure students understand Squanto was a Wampanoag Chief who served as a guide and translator for the Pilgrims.

6.       Display Thanksgiving Venn Diagram on the overhead projector and distribute copies to the class. Instruct students to label the diagram “The First Thanksgiving”, “Both”, and “My Thanksgiving”.

7.       Fill out the diagram together as a class, taking ideas from the students. Make sure students understand that we still do some of the same things the Pilgrims and Native Americans did at Thanksgiving, but many traditions have changed through the years.

8.       Tell students: We will have a chance to talk about the First Thanksgiving again tomorrow.


Modifications: For students with special needs, provided one-on-one assistance with writing as necessary.


Assessment: Direct students to turn to a partner and tell them something they learned today.


Benchmark or Standards:

National Council for the Social Studies Standards

I. Culture and Cultural Diversity

a. Explore and describe similarities and differences in the in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

d. Compare ways in which people from cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.

III. People Places and Environments

        h. Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land,

        building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.

V. Individuals, Groups, and Identities

        a. Identify roles as learned behavior patterns in group situations such as student, family

        member, peer play group member, or club member.

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