Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.
We’ve got you covered for Thanksgiving teaching resources! Check out our favorite videos, interactive websites, and lesson plans.
Short videos all under 5 minutes.
The Daily Share (YouTube)
The History of Thanksgiving
The First Thanksgiving: Journey on the Mayflower
Learn about the voyage of the Mayflower. Tour the ship or relive the Pilgrims’ journey. Complete with facts, historical letters, timeline, videos, photos, and teaching resources for grades K-8.
Thanksgiving Interactive: You are the Historian
What really happened at the First Thanksgiving? Become a history detective and find out! In this fun, award-winning activity, you take on the role of a “history detective” to investigate what really happened at the famous 1621 celebration. (Hint: It was a lot more than just a feast!) Along the way, you will read a letter written by an eyewitness to the event, learn about Wampanoag traditions of giving thanks, and visit Pilgrim Mary Allerton’s home. As a final activity, you can design and print your own Thanksgiving exhibit panel.
The Internet’s most complete resource on the Mayflower and the Pilgrims, with genealogy, history, primary source documents, and a complete passenger list.
Myth and Truth: The “First Thanksgiving” (ReadWriteThink.org)
By exploring myths surrounding the Wampanoag, the pilgrims, and the “first Thanksgiving,” this lesson asks students to think critically about commonly believed myths regarding the Wampanoag Indians in colonial America. Students will begin by considering the difference between myth and historical truth by reading “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford. They will then, in a full-class discussion, reflect on common myths related to the first Thanksgiving. By using a “myth-breaking” process, groups of students will further explore one myth commonly believed about the Wampanoag and the pilgrim settlers. Finally, students will share their findings in group presentations.
American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving – The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) provides a teaching guide, photos, classroom activities, and other resources. It is intended to give students an accurate picture of what happened in Plymouth in 1621 and explain how that event fits into American history. For Grades 4-8.
Students will learn about today’s WAMPANOAG PEOPLE, the same Native American tribe who interacted with the Pilgrims at Plymouth nearly 400 years ago. Students will also examine current issues in which Wampanoag tribes continue to fight for their ancestral homelands, preserve their Native language for future generations and discuss the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday. Grades 9-12.
Just for Fun!
Talk Like a Pilgrim – The Pilgrims talked a little differently than we do today. Here are a few examples of English words, greetings and phrases that were used back then. Practice them at home and you could talk like a Pilgrim too!
We want to hear from you! In the comment section, let us know your favorite Thanksgiving teaching resources.