First Thanksgiving Unit for Kindergarten and First Grade

This post contains affiliate links to products I recommend.  Read my full disclosure statement.

Did you survive Halloween in your classroom?  I hope you did!  All the parties and costumes and candy can make for some very excited kiddos…and one very exhausted teacher. 🙂

Hot off the heels of one holiday, it’s time to get ready for the next one: Thanksgiving!  I recently finished creating a first Thanksgiving Unit for Kindergarten and First Grade that I can’t wait to show you.  Students sail on the Mayflower and experience life as a Pilgrim and Native American during the week-long unit.  Here’s a peek at each day!

Day One: Journey on the Mayflower

The first day begins with the Pilgrims’ journey on the Mayflower.  Before reading, students share about a long trip they’ve taken. Then, after reading the book, On the Mayflower by Mark Greenwood, students make a moving Mayflower craft or complete a Mayflower STEM challenge.  Click here to see the moving Mayflower craft step-by-step and download a free printable template to make it!

Mayflower STEM Challenge for Kids

Day Two: Life as a Pilgrim

Sarah Morton’s Day or Samuel Eaton’s Day by Kate Waters are perfect books to read for learning more about life as a Pilgrim.  Students compare and contrast Pilgrims with people today and display what they learned about Pilgrims with this cute lift-the-flap writing activity.

First Thanksgiving Writing Activity #firstthanksgiving
First Thanksgiving Writing Activity #firstthanksgiving

Did you know that Pilgrims play some of the same games we still play today?  They just called them different names.  Here’s a few:

  • Naughts and crosses (tic tac toe)
  • Lummelen (keep away)
  • Draughts (checkers)
  • All hid (hide-and-seek)
  • Hop frog (leap frog)

Day Three: Life as a Native American

The Wampanoags played an important role in the Pilgrims’s survival that first year. Students learn more about their way of life from the book, Tapenum’s Day by Kate Waters.  Students record what they learn about Native Americans on a lift-the-flap writing sheet similar to the one on day two.  They make an Indian Corn craft and play Native American games.

First Thanksgiving Writing Activities #firstthanksgiving
First Thanksgiving Activities #firstthanksgiving

Day Four: The First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims’ bountiful harvest after the long, hard winter gave them a reason to celebrate.  The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving by Anne Mcgovern recounts the three-day feast.  I kind of got a little crazy with day four.  Lol.  There’s so many wonderful learning activities to do with the first Thanksgiving that I couldn’t just pick one or two; I included four!  🙂 Do what you have time for and what works best for your students.

First Thanksgiving Writing Activities #firstthanksgiving
First Thanksgiving Writing Activities #firstthanksgiving

Students pretend to be a photographer at the first Thanksgiving.  They draw pictures and write about what took place.

First Thanksgiving Writing Activities #firstthanksgiving
First Thanksgiving Activities #firstthanksgiving

Guide students in retelling the events of the first Thanksgiving by making these Thanksgiving story bracelets.  Each color represents a different part of the story.

Day Five:  How We Celebrate Thanksgiving

Conclude the week by discussing how we celebrate Thanksgiving today.  Compare and contrast our Thanksgiving traditions with the first Thanksgiving feast.  Have students share things they’re thankful for and create an adorable stuffed paper bag turkey to display their answers.  Eat Pilgrim pudding and play “Flying Feathers” to end the week with a treat!

Thanksgiving Writing Activities #firstthanksgiving
Stuffed Paper Bag Turkey Craft #turkeycraft
Thanksgiving Snack for Kids #firstthanksgiving #thanksgivingideas
Thanksgiving Game for kids #thanksgivingactivities #thanksgivingideas

Your kids will LOVE playing “Flying Feathers”, played like the traditional game, “Hangman”.  Draw a turkey on the board with ten feathers.  Draw 12 lines representing each letter in the word “thanksgiving”.  Have students try to guess the word by calling out one letter at a time.  If a letter is called out that is not in the word, erase a turkey feather.  Students try to guess the word before all ten feathers are erased!  Play more rounds with other Thanksgiving themed words like Pilgrim, Mayflower, Squanto, feast, etc.  To use this game as an end of unit review, have students tell one thing they learned about each word they guess.

Phew!  What a fun week!  Learn even more about everything in this unit by clicking on the picture below.
First Thanksgiving Unit for Kindergarten and First Grade #firstthanksgiving


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *