First Thanksgiving Unit for Kindergarten and First Grade

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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 Wampanoag 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!

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 or display what they learned about Pilgrims with this cute lift-the-flap writing activity.

I’ve included several different options for this writing activity. There’s a picture only version for pre- or beginning readers and writers, a short text option with pictures, a fill-in-the-blank option and blank version for students to make their own!

Did you know that Pilgrims played 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 Wampanoag

The Wampanoag 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 the Wampanoag on a lift-the-flap writing sheet similar to the one on day two.  They make a woven paper mat, a flint corn craft or play Wampanoag games.

First Thanksgiving Activities #firstthanksgiving

There aren’t many children’s books about the Wampanoag. If you need more information about them, I highly recommend the Plimoth Plantation website’s “Homework Help” section. The text is very kid-friendly and you could just read it in place of a book. Each section you click on includes information about the Wampanoag and Pilgrims.

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.  Students imagine what they would have experienced at the first Thanksgiving using their five senses.

Students record what they learned about the first Thanksgiving in this mini-booklet.  They color or draw pictures and write about what took place.

This Pilgrim writing craft makes the cutest bulletin board! You might be wondering why they’re dressed in blue and green, though. Did you know that contrary to popular belief Pilgrims did not wear black? Historical records show that they wore blue, violet, brick red, and other colors. They didn’t wear belt buckles, either!

Day Five:  How We Celebrate Thanksgiving

Conclude the week by discussing how we celebrate Thanksgiving today. There’s so many fun activities to do with the our Thanksgiving that I couldn’t just pick one or two!  🙂 Do what you have time for and what works best for your students.

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.  Students might draw and write about what they eat for Thanksgiving or eat turkey applesauce to end the week with a treat!

Stuffed Paper Bag Turkey Craft #turkeycraft

Phew!  What a fun week!  Learn even more about everything in this unit by clicking on the picture below.


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