Uncovering the Truth: The First Thanksgiving

A WebQuest for 5th Grade Social Studies
Designed by

Joe Logan
Erica Lauser
Kristina Middleton
Nicole Poole





Thanksgiving day seems to be just a simple holiday that we celebrate each year with our families. We share stories, cook food and, of course, eat until we can't eat anymore. Without even questioning where this special holiday comes from and when it all began, we accept the short story that we were first taught in school without making any further investigations ourselves. Is it possible, however, that there is more to the story of Thanksgiving than we have been taught in school? To answer this question, you will travel back to 1621 as a member of the first actual Thanksgiving feast. You will recollect the kinds of people, food, games and garments that were included on that very special day in history.

firstthanksgiving.jpg first-thanksgiving-pilgrims-plymouth-meal-398x336.jpg
The Task:
First you will be asked to write out a KWL chart in which you will recall what you have learned in the past about the first Thanksgiving. It is important to be able to compare and contrast old information to new. Here is a sample KWL chart for you to see:



After you complete the first two columns of your chart, you will then act as a historian in gathering information such as:


  • The way in which the settlers arrived in the new land
  • The events that took place on that first Thanksgiving Day
  • Who took part in the feast from both groups of people (specific names)?
  • What kinds of foods were served and eaten?
  • What kinds of games were played?
  • What kinds of clothes and garments were expected to be worn during the feast?

The Process:

After creating your KWL chart as a part of your "Task" you'll be divided into groups of three or four.


Within your group you will decide who would like to research information about the Indians and who would like to research information about the Settlers.


Once the roles have been decided, your group will be asked to research and uncover truthful information about the following topics: important people at the event, foods cooked or prepared (that includes anything that was hunted as well), games played, clothes/garments worn for the feast.


Depending upon which group you are researching, you will only be asked to conduct research about that specific group of people. For example, if you have chosen to research the Wampanoag Indians within your group, you will be asked to uncover facts ONLY about the Wampanoag Indians regarding these specific topics.


You will use the websites below to conduct your research.


After researching, you may want to collaborate with another person in your group to compare facts and information.


Once you have compiled your information, you will be asked to write a journal about your findings, however, you will no longer be playing the role of a historian. If you were asked to research about the settlers, you will write as though you were a true European Settler during the feast. You can create your own name or use the name of any of the people you found in your research. Write about what you saw, who was there, what you ate and how you felt. You may even include drawings or sketches to describe objects and events.


Your journal will be used to help you and the rest of your classmates re-enact the events that occurred in 1621 during the first Thanksgiving. You and your classmates will share your journals with the rest of the class, speaking as though you are currently living in the time period. With permission from your teacher, you may also bring in foods to share with the rest of the class. If you are not able to bring in food, use the drawings and sketches that were included with your journal to talk about it.


At the conclusion of the unit (generally on your own) go back and complete your KWL chart. Compare what you were originally taught and what you now know. Notice anything different? You may want to share your findings with friends, family, or other classmates.

Here are a list of websites and resources you will have the freedom to use to conduct your research. Some may include videos and games for you to play that will make it easier to gather your information:





http://web.ccsd.k12.wy.us/techcurr/Social studies/05/0101nacostum.html




After completing your research of the first Thanksgiving, you will have a firm understanding of the types of food that were made, the various games that were played, important settlers/Indians who were in attendance, garments that were worn, and how and why the settlers reached the lands of America. Do you think that the Thanksgiving feast back in 1621 is the same as our Thanksgiving traditions today? Think about the differences between them and the differences between what you thought you knew and now know about the first Thanksgiving.


Credits and References:
http://images.google.com/images?gbv=2&hl=en&sa=1&q=cartoon+magnifier&aq=f&oq=&aqi=g2&start=0 http://images.google.com/images?gbv=2&hl=en&q=the+first+thanksgiving&sa=N&start=20&ndsp=20
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