Monday, November 23, 2009

teaching Thanksgiving {free printable placemat}

beyond a day dedicated to giving thanks, what is Thanksgiving?

i wanted a date and a definition, a clear and concise origin. what i got was a can of worms. apparently the first Thanksgiving is questionable and oft debated

but i wanted to teach Thanksgiving this week, so i took the time and sorted through the worms to try to get to the bottom of the can.

i found some really great resources with simple explainations of what could be considered a complicated holiday.

the story of Thanksgiving, as told by Just4KidsMagazine:
The first Thanksgiving celebration in America is basically the story of the Pilgrims and their thankful community feast at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth England on a crowded ship called the Mayflower on September 6, 1620. After over 66 days of travel across the Atlantic Ocean they landed on the rocky shores of Massachusetts. The Pilgrims first winter in the new land was very hard. They lived in dirt-covered homes, there was a shortage of food, and almost half of them died.

In the Spring the Pilgrims tried to plant the wheat that they brought with them, but it would not grow in the rocky soil. They did not know how to survive in this New Land – They needed help!

The Pilgrims were dedicated Christians. They believed in praying to God, especially in times of desperate need. I am sure that it was God who sent the two friendly, English speaking Wampanoag (Wam pa NO ag) Indians named “Squanto” (SKWAN toe), and Samoset. They were hunting along the beach of Plymouth when they discovered the new settlers. They became friends, and Squanto and Samoset stayed with the Pilgrims for a few months teaching them how to survive in the new land. They taught them how to hunt, how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables, how to sap maple trees, dig and cook clams, and many other skills.

By the fall of 1621 the Pilgrims were doing much better. They were in better health, the corn had grown well, and there was enough food to last through the winter. It was their religious custom to celebrate a Feast of the Ingathering of the Harvest in November. So they decided to celebrate a Thanksgiving Feast to Thank God for their good fortune.

what the Bible says about giving thanks:

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. -1 Chronicles 16:8

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. -Psalm 105:1

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

"The Colors of Salvation" Indian corn craft from print this .PDF color page of Indian corn and teach the colors of salvation. you could also get real dried Indian corn (i've seen it at Target in produce) to drive home this concept.

Thanksgiving Lapbook from is 13 pages for a Thanksgiving themed lapbook includes a word search, multiplication problems, and vocabulary.

Memory Verses from is four short Bible verses for little ones to memorize.

and i love, love, LOVE the idea of teaching table manners and table-setting etiquette this time of year. has ideas for teaching and reinforcing age-appropriate manners just in time for Thanksgiving. teach children the proper way to set the table so they can be big helpers at Thanksgiving dinner. Emily Post, of course, has printable diagrams and descriptions of table settings.

i made a printable version that your child can use as a placemat or to practice setting the table. here is the free .PDF: Printable Table Setting Practice Placemat. < new link to FREE printable, no log-in required

how do you teach Thanksgiving? what resources do you use? i'd love to know!

Happy Thanksgiving!