Thanksgiving {Holiday Helps}

Thanksgiving Day {Holiday Helps}

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to prepare their houses for the winter, being well recovered in health and strength, and plentifully provisioned; for while some had been thus employed in affairs away from home, others were occupied in fishing for cod, bass, and other fish, of which they caught a good quantity, every family having their portion. All the summer there was no want. And now, as winter approached, wild fowl began to arrive, of which there were plenty when they came here first, though afterwards they became more scarce. As well as wild fowl, they got abundance of wild turkeys, besides venison, etc. Each person had about a peck of meal a week, or now, since harvest, Indian corn in that proportion; and afterwards many wrote at length about their plenty to their friends in England, — not feigned but true reports.

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation: Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608–1650

And so began a tradition in America of giving thanks for the blessings God has so richly bestowed upon us.

President George Washington declared a day of “PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness” in 1789, creating the first national day of Thanksgiving.

But it is a letter from Sarah J. Hale, editor of Ladies’ Magazine, that is credited with helping establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Her letter to President Abraham Lincoln led to his 1863 proclamation establishing the last Thursday in November as a national Thanksgiving holiday. The official date was later moved to the fourth Thursday in November as a compromise between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress, Roosevelt preferring the fourth Thursday to provide more time for holiday shopping.

 

Further Investigation

Primary Sources for the “First Thanksgiving” at Plymouth
Read what really happened. Free download at the Pilgrim Hall Museum includes a list of those in attendance.

General Thanksgiving Proclamation
The text of President George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation of 1789.

Proclamation of Thanksgiving
President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation from 1863, declared in the midst of the Civil War.

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation
The tradition of issuing Thanksgiving Day proclamations has continued. President George W. Bush declared Thursday, November 22, 2001, a National Day of Thanksgiving — a particularly heartfelt proclamation following the events of September 11.

Thanksgiving Timeline (1541–2001)
Thanksgiving through the years from the Library of Congress. Great resource!

Bet You Didn’t Know: Thanksgiving
Great video from the  History Channel that helps students understand how the tradition started and changed.

 

Activities

You Are There: The Sailing of the Mayflower
Originally aired in 1947 and was narrated by CBS news reporter John Daly. The You Are There series of radio broadcasts were dramatizations of historical events presented as live radio coverage.

Thanksgiving Interactive: You are the Historian
Interactive from Plimoth Plantation that helps students learn what really happened. Includes a helpful Teacher’s Guide.

The Pilgrims’ Voyage: Map and the Mayflower
Fun and educational craft at EnchantedLearning.com.

Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement
Free audio version from LibriVox.

Ours to Fight For — Freedom from Want
In 1943, a series of Norman Rockwell paintings based on President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech was published in the Saturday Evening Post. One of those shows a family Thanksgiving like only Rockwell could portray. The paintings went on tour around the country raising money for war bonds.

Thanksgiving and Harvest Hymns
Music appropriate to the season from CyberHymnal.

Turkey Resources
What Thanksgiving would be complete without turkey? Your children will enjoy these fun turkey-focused activities from A Kid’s Heart.

Label the Turkey
Turkey anatomy activity at EnchantedLearning.com.

Thanksgiving Place Mat
Make a beautiful place mat courtesy of Jan Brett!

Turkey Cookies
Anyone who knows me understands why this has such appeal. Fun edible craft for the young ones!

Thankful Tree DIY Centerpiece
A beautiful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table that all can appreciate.

Digital Holiday Supplement
Originally offered by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine in 2009 and still available. The supplement includes the Pilgrims’ story, instructions on how to re-create the first Thanksgiving feast, a family Thanksgiving activity, and wonderful holiday recipes.

 

Books

“Thanksgiving” by Henry Coyle
Many will recognize this Thanksgiving poem.

Stories of the PilgrimsStories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B. Pumphrey
Stories of the Pilgrims’ journey beginning with the persecution they faced in Scrooby, England, to their journey to Holland and their adjustment to a new culture, to their voyage across the ocean to the shores of America where eventually a Thanksgiving would be celebrated — told in a way that is interesting to young readers. Read our entire review for go-along activities and the public domain download links. Also published by Christian Liberty Press with comprehension questions at the end of each chapter.

Squanto: Friend of the PilgrimsSquanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
Family favorite by a favorite author that tells the story of the Indian who befriended the Pilgrims.

7 Thanksgiving Stories {Free}
Heart-warming stories by well-known authors in the public domain.

The Children’s Book of Thanksgiving Stories
Public domain collection of 31 stories with something for everyone.

Thanksgiving: A Time to RememberThanksgiving: A Time To Remember by Barbara Rainey
Beautiful, warm book for celebrating the holiday. Read our full review.

Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement
For older students.

 

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Thanksgiving Primary Source Teacher Guide {Free}
A great way to learn about Thanksgiving through primary source documents at the Library of Congress.

William Bradford: The Pen & the Person
Excellent lesson plan for older students from Pilgrim Hall Museum.

Annie’s Thanksgiving Lesson for Kids
A lesson that focuses on being thankful.

Give Thanks! A Unit Study About Gratefulness
Free unit study covering Bible, history and geography, language arts, music, and art.

Pilgrims-Thanksgiving Unit
A study from Cindy Downes that includes many links, book selections, hands-on activities, and more.

Thankfulness Character Study
A study from HomeschoolHelperOnline.com that focuses on a character trait we want to encourage all the year long.

Thanksgiving Unit Study
Unit study from the Lacelle family covering the Pilgrims, the Mayflower, Plymouth, and Native Americans that includes crafts, music, writing prompts, mapping activities, food, and fun! Lots of recommended resources.

 

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Thanksgiving “Draw the Details” Coloring Pages
Fun pages for young ones at DLTK-Holidays.com.

Pilgrim Family Coloring Page
Free download from ABCTeach.com (free membership required).

Minibook: I’m Thankful
Free four-page download at Scholastic.

Thanksgiving Notebooking Pages
Beautiful 46-page download — free! Read our full review.

Thanksgiving Notebooking Pages
Free Thanksgiving-themed set. Read our full review.

On Being Thankful…and a Freebie
Counting blessings.