Adventures Through History: History of Thanksgiving

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Are you looking for a way to learn the real history of Thanksgiving or a history unit about Plymouth Colony that can be used any time of the year?

One that is literature-based and has a variety of activities and learning materials related to the books you read?

A unit study that teaches your children how to place events in time, work with maps and study primary sources, but is also fun?

And you want to be able to tailor the study to your family’s specific needs?

Welcome to our latest Adventures Through History!

These unit studies have been created with homeschooling families in mind and can be used with one child or multiple children.  They are designed specifically for 4th-8th graders, but older and younger children in your family can be included as you see fit.

The History of Thanksgiving: Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag People unit study is based on the following four books (The links below are affiliate links.):

Non-fiction: Choose between 1621, A New Look at Thanksgiving or History Smashers: The Mayflower.  You may also wish to lay a foundation with 1621, A New Look at Thanksgiving and then follow-up with the History Smashers book for a deep dive.

Fiction: A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620 (Dear America Series) by Kathryn Lasky
Optional: Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper (This book is described as a “fantasy set within a historical background”.  It centers both the Native American experience and the English experience of Cape Cod in the 1600s and therefore makes a nice addition to the unit if time and interest permit.)

You will learn about what brought the English people on the Mayflower to the New World and the challenges they had to face as they settled Plymouth Colony.  You will also discover the history of the Wampanoag people and how their lives intersected with the English settlers at Plymouth, or Patuxet as the Wampanoag called it. Then, learn about the one document that tells us about what came to be known as the “First Thanksgiving” and how the history of Thanksgiving evolved from there.

Each Adventures Through History study contains Core Activities that are recommended all families complete and several Optional Activities for families to choose from based on what will work best for them.  Even within the Core Activities, ideas about how to adapt them to different needs are suggested.  For example, you may choose to read the book as a read aloud with the whole family or assign the book as independent reading to your children.

Core Activities in the History of Thanksgiving Study

Listening to Learn: The Wampanoag People gives you an overview of the history of the indigenous people of the Cape Cod area while your children color and draw on a picture.

Listening to Learn: The Mayflower and the Plymouth Colony gives you the history of who traveled on the Mayflower and their settling of Plymouth Colony.

Eighteen Vocabulary Cards teach key words your children will need to know to understand the unit and carry over to other history learning.  Crosswords are included to review the words later in the unit.

Notebooking Pages for all four books mentioned above with questions you can discuss as a family or have your children use to narrate the book to you or practice their writing skills. (Answer keys included.)

Optional Activities in the History of Thanksgiving Study

The following activities are included in the History of Thanksgiving unit study for your family to choose which will work best.  Different activities might work better for different children in your family.  Pick the ones you want to complete and forget the rest.

Object Studies and Primary Source Document Studies…including the study of what we really know about the “First Thanksgiving” as well as a look at the Mayflower Compact.

Writing Prompt about how to celebrate Thanksgiving

Crossword Puzzles

Timelines with Events

Notebooking Pages for some of the key people with links to research.

Hands-on Activities and Projects including recipes, crafts, and games.

Lists of related books, videos and movies.

End of Unit Projects

Short Quiz

Materials Needed: The books you have chosen to read about the history of Thanksgiving, printable pages from this study, internet for doing research.
Optional Materials: Ingredients for any recipes you choose to make, art and craft supplies for projects you may choose to create.

Approximate Time to Complete: 6-8 weeks (Start with the non-fiction resources now and then pick up again after Thanksgiving to learn more!)
Number of Pages: 87

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1 review for Adventures Through History: History of Thanksgiving

  1. Lorilee Kelly (verified owner)

    My boys did this unit together for the most part. It is a great unit study that allows for the perspective of the Natives as opposed to the traditional story of Thanksgiving we were once taught in schools. I enjoyed this one as much as the kids did!!

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