Teaching Students About Turkey Day
Turkey Day, also known as Thanksgiving, is a treasured holiday in the United States celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of November. As educators, it’s essential to provide our students with comprehensive knowledge of the history, customs, and significance of this special day. This article aims to assist teachers in conveying the importance of Turkey Day and creating engaging lesson plans to improve students’ understanding and appreciation for the holiday.
Begin by discussing the origins of Thanksgiving and its historical context. In 1621, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe came together for a three-day feast to celebrate their successful harvest and cooperation. Inform students about the journey of the Pilgrims from England to America aboard the Mayflower, the challenges they faced in establishing a new colony, and the role Native Americans played in ensuring their survival.
It is important to address various perspectives while teaching about Thanksgiving. Encourage students to recognize that while it is a time of togetherness for many families today, it also marks a period of colonization and conflict for Indigenous peoples.
Traditional Foods and Customs
Introduce your students to the traditional foods associated with Turkey Day. These include roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and more. Highlight regional variations in ingredients or dishes that may be unique to specific areas of the country.
Beyond food, discuss family customs and practices surrounding Thanksgiving. Many families watch NFL football games or participate in local Turkey Trots (community races). Others engage in volunteering activities or donate food items to help those less fortunate during this time.
Incorporate gratitude exercises into your lesson plan to give students an opportunity for reflection and appreciation. Begin with a simple writing exercise where students list what they are thankful for or share something they appreciate about someone else in their lives.
Another fun activity could entail creating a Thankful Tree. Allocate each student a tree “branch,” where they write down something they are thankful for and then attach it to the central “trunk.” This allows the class to visually appreciate the collective gratitude in the room.
Teaching students about Turkey Day or Thanksgiving is an engaging and informative way to increase their understanding of American history, culture, and values. By presenting the historical context, explaining traditional customs, and focusing on gratitude, students will develop a well-rounded comprehension of this meaningful holiday.