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 usually make this time of year special.
As we reflect on what we are grateful for, and celebrating our families’ traditions in familiar or new ways, let’s also reconsider the history of how this holiday began. 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 real history of Thanksgiving, activities and books for encouraging thankfulness and gratitude, and tips on adapting your family’s traditions (or creating new ones) in 2020.
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Learning & teaching history
Explore these PBS 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
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.
The First Official Thanksgiving
Most people think Thanksgiving was first observed by the Pilgrims in 1621. Explore remote learning-friendly resources that offer evidence that this story is more myth than historical fact.
An Authentic Look at Thanksgiving
On the PBSTeachers Blog, 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.
Learn more about the National Museum Of The American Indian’s Native Knowledge 360° program which provides educators and students with new perspectives on Native American history and cultures. And 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 online resources.
Thanksgiving Through the Lens of Native Americans Today: Lesson Plan | PBS NewsHour
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.
Adapting Holiday Traditions During Coronavirus
With the COVID 19 pandemic, many families won’t spend the holidays in the same way. Here is one mom’s idea for adapting holiday traditions and celebrations in meaningful ways.
Raising Grateful Kids: Why Giving Thanks Is Good for the Soul
Gratitude is good for you ⎯ and for your kids. Here are helpful tips for raising grateful kids.
Simple Family-Friendly Thanksgiving Traditions
Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to take a moment and be grateful. Learn how these families made special traditions of their own.
Activities, books & more
Picture Books to Help You Slow Down and Say Thanks
Gratitude is good for the soul. This Thanksgiving, consider picking up one of these books to read aloud with your children and spark conversations about what makes them feel grateful.
Thanksgiving Venn Diagram
What are you most thankful for on Thanksgiving Day? It’s pumpkin pie, right? This Thankfulness Venn diagram activity compares adults and kids to see who is thankful for what during this sweet smelling holiday.
Thanksgiving Estimation Jars
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Use the holiday to spark an interest in more than just turkey and pumpkin pie with this Thanksgiving Estimation Jars activity.
Thanksgiving Thankful Notes
Send a note of gratitude to friends and family this Thanksgiving! This printable notecard can help your child express why they are thankful for the people in their lives.
Thanksgiving is about more than the turkey! Here are ten recommended books for kids ages 0-9 that celebrate sharing, community, and family.
StoryCorps: The Great Thanksgiving Listen
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. Using the free StoryCorps App, interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Educators, for resources on how to introduce the project in your classroom, interview tips and more, visit the StoryCorps: The Great Thanksgiving Listen Collection on PBS LearningMedia. Or visit the StoryCorps educator’s resource hub.
Learning at Home programs
Monday, November 23
1 PM: American Experience ⎪ The Pilgrims
Arguably one of the most fateful and resonant events of the last half millennium, the Pilgrims journey west across the Atlantic in the early 17th century is a seminal, if often misunderstood episode of American and world history. The Pilgrims explores the forces, circumstances, personalities and events that converged to exile the English group in Holland and eventually propel their crossing to the New World; a story universally familiar in broad outline, but almost entirely unfamiliar to a general audience in its rich and compelling historical actuality.
Check out The Pilgrims: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Collection on PBS LearningMedia for a suite of educational resources related to the film. The media resources in this collection feature historical reenactments and expert interviews that tell the Pilgrims’ story from both European and Native perspectives.