We began our Thanksgiving Unit talking about what we remembered about this Holiday followed by the story of the first Thanksgiving (Zimmer Three year old style that is 🙂 We spent some time talking about the long journey the Pilgrims took and how that would feel. We also spoke about how difficult life was for them once they arrived in America. We tried to imagine living in a place where there are no homes, stores, schools or roads just forests full of trees. The pilgrims did not know how to live in a place like that either, they were cold, scared and hungry.
Thankfully, the Native Americans lended a helping hand by teaching the Pilgrims how to grow different vegetable and fruits like corn, pumpkins, potatoes, cranberries and catch fish and turkeys. The Pilgrims were so excited, they quickly planted their seeds and worked hard to take care of them as they grew. When Harvest time came and everything was ready to be picked the Pilgrims were so happy they wanted to celebrate because they would have good food to eat. The Pilgrims also remembered how the Native Americans helped them and they wanted to say thank you. So the Pilgrims cooked up delicious foods out of all the vegetables and fruit they grew and they invited the Native Americans to have a great, big feast. We celebrate Thanksgiving every year to remember what we are thankful for and to have a great, big feast with family and friends.
To tell the story we used laminated, popsicle puppets and a simple backdrop.
Children seemed to enjoy playing with the puppets and using them to retell the story, especially the long journey part.
During circle time we had a pretend Thanksgiving feast. We spread out a table-cloth and enjoyed some pretend food with fancy cups and plates. We talked about proper table manners and what kind on Thanksgiving foods we like to eat. We also talked about being thankful and even took turns sharing something we were thankful for.
We put all the Thanksgiving props in a box we painted added it to our dramatic play center. We had a great time playing together.
All the talk about Thanksgiving food lead us to open up the pumpkin that has been rolling around our class for a few weeks. We talked about some foods that we could make out of it and decided soup sounded really good, especially on a cold day. The children knew that there would be seeds and the “squishy stuff” inside but they were a bit surprised of how empty the pumpkin really was. Then we got to scooping it out and some of the children loved it while others didn’t care much for it.
While getting the pumpkin ready we talked about other ingredients we might want to add to our soup. There were so many different suggestions so we decided that the next day we would all bring something to add to our soup. With a quick email to all the parents 😉 our plan was soon realized. Once the pumpkin was clean we roasted it in the oven.
We gave the leftover pumpkin to Snuggle Bunny and he loved it 🙂
The next day everyone brought something for the soup and as soon as we got to school we got to work. We cut up all the vegetables in small pieces, added water, spices and then just let it cook.
When the soup was cooked we blended it all together and it was ready to enjoy. It was really delicious and an amazing success with the children. They really LOVED it and asked for second and even third servings. Kids eating vegetables, what could be better 🙂
As we got deeper into our unit the children naturally became curious about the Native American and asked some really good questions like: Where did they get their clothes? What their homes were like? Why they had feathers?
We learned more about Native Americans and how they made their own clothes, homes, tools and even instruments. We also watched a video of a Native American celebration where there was drums and flute music and dancing around the fire. It looked like fun and the children really liked the music, they kept asking to hear it again.
The next day we had circle time around a fire and we had a special guest join us. It was a Native American doll who came to tell a story around the fire and to answer any questions the children had. (The fire was a big hit)
Our special guest also brought a drum for us to play with so we put on some Native American music and passed it around.
We had so much fun playing the drum and listening to the music that we got up and danced to the music.
Holidays are so much fun and the children were so excited about the upcoming school-wide celebration. We talked about what food we wanted to make (soup because it was so yummy) and we learned a “Helping Hands” song to present for all the mommies and daddies. While retelling the story of Thanksgiving we focused a lot on how the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims. We also talked about how we can he helpful. The children loved the song and practiced it everyday.
Chorus: Helping hands, helping one another. I can do a lot with my helping hands.
When I see someone fall down I can help them up.
If their lying on the ground, I use my helping hands.
When I see a mess around, I can clean it up.
To pick things up off the ground, I use my helping hands.
When I see someone is sad, I can help them smile.
I can give them a hug, I use my helping hands.
Our Thanksgiving take-home project was a table centerpiece made out of a cardboard base, a huge bead, and twigs we found on a nature walk. We decorated the twigs by dipping them in glue and then in colored ice-cream salt. (the salt was colored with food coloring)
To decorate the bead and the base, we poured different color paint and watched it drip, mix, puddle and swirl at the bottom. The children really enjoyed this part being the messy artists they are.
They came out so beautiful, together they looked like a magical, fairytale forest. The last step of this project was for children and parents to write down things they are thankful for on pretty pieces of paper and hang on the twigs.