Explore History & Make New Traditions This Thanksgiving!
For many, Thanksgiving is a day for us to remember what we’re thankful for, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the food and festivities that make this time of year special.
As we reflect on what we are grateful for, and celebrate our families’ traditions in familiar or new ways, let’s also consider the beginnings of this holiday. Incorporating ways to honor and learn about the true story of Thanksgiving, and the authentic stories and histories of Indigenous people in America, is a powerful way to give your family a new perspective.
Continue below for educational resources about the history of Thanksgiving, activities and books for encouraging thankfulness and gratitude, and tips on creating new family traditions.
Explore a variety of resources, for families and educators alike, to incorporate culturally responsive lessons and historical context into your holiday activities.
Thanksgiving: Practicing Gratitude and Honoring the Real Story
Grades PreK-3 This Thanksgiving, help your child build critical thinking skills and give them a true understanding of all there is to be thankful for. Check out this article from PBS Kids for Parents with strategies for teaching about and honoring the true story of Thanksgiving without losing our family traditions.
An Authentic Look at Thanksgiving| PBS Teachers Lounge
Grades 4-8 On PBS Teachers Lounge, Edwin Schupman, an educator from the National Museum Of The American Indian, shares how modern retellings of the first Thanksgiving are mostly fiction and shares resources that help students learn the authentic stories and histories of Indigenous people in America. For additional resources to help you teach more accurately and think more broadly about the Thanksgiving story, check out these featured resources from NK360° and the museum’s Thanksgiving resources.
Thanksgiving Through the Lens of Native Americans Today: Lesson Plan | PBS NewsHour
Grades 6-12 Is it possible to celebrate Thanksgiving while learning about the effects of colonization on Indigenous people? Ask students to discuss the meaning of Thanksgiving through the lens of today’s Wampanoag people, the descendants of Indigenous tribes who welcomed the Pilgrims at Plymouth.
Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time for families to share traditions and spend time with each other – but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. PBS Kids for Parents is here to help you navigate, adapt and celebrate this holiday season.
Finding Gratitude During Difficult Times
Grades PreK-3 Expressing gratitude, even when life gets tough, is vital to our emotional and physical health. When you are feeling down, challenge yourself to find ways to be grateful — start with these tips.
Grades PreK-3 Celebrate the beauty of fall by creating a festive centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table! Your child will love to help draw, cut out, and color the paper leaves. This family activity will give them a chance to see just how much they have to be grateful for.
Design a Poster to Honor the Indigenous Lands You Live On
Grades K-8 Have you ever wondered about the Indigenous lands you live on? Spend some time as a family discovering the history and culture of the tribes who cultivated the lands you live on and design a poster to honor them.
Grades 1-8 The holidays are a great chance for children to learn about family culture. However, surrounded by faces they don’t see often, it may be intimidating to strike up a conversation. Sometimes a little helpful nudge is all they need to be more engaged. Encourage them to mingle and learn their family history by having them become super sleuths! The set up is super simple. In fact, older children can get involved to engage with their relatives too.
Grades 6-12 The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a national movement that empowers young people—and people of all ages—to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder, mentor, friend, or someone they admire. Interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Explore classroom-ready resources, including an Educator Toolkit, on PBS LearningMedia with theStoryCorps: The Great Thanksgiving Listen Collection, or visit StoryCorps’ educator resource hub.
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