Learning in the Thanksgiving Season

Rebecca Liao Wednesday November 09 2022


Thanksgiving is one of the easiest seasons to weave in some fantastic learning activities.  All the way from those paper bag turkey puppets to the entire saga of Squanto, there are just so many ways to learn and make the holiday more than a golden turkey and pumpkin pie.

Let’s have a look at a few ideas you might want to try. (Even if you can only manage to squeeze in ONE…. that is wonderful!)

  1. Learn the history of the Pilgrims and Natives.
    The season is rich with noble characters, struggles, bravery, and even some tragic and sobering truths.  Dig into the stories, the people, and the reasons behind the actions of all of the main players. Discuss what you are learning around the dinner table or have your kids write a short paper or a simple paragraph to share with the family.
  1. Make a craft, even if you are not that “crafty.”
    There are literally thousands of crafts you can find within a few minutes of searching online.  It always took the pressure off of me to choose the ones that I already had the simple supplies from around the house or in the yard.  Kids do not have to have the “latest and greatest” crafts that require an extra stop at the craft store. Unfussy things like colorful leaves, fallen branches, dried beans, glue, and finger paint can be the ingredients to meaningful times of creating.
  1. Fill a basket or box full of library books about Thanksgiving.
    Add a few extra hours of reading to your week with family read-alouds, or by having your older kids read to the littles, or by listening to a book on tape or e-book while you run your errands. Choose different types of books to appease everyone’s interests…maybe a comical Thanksgiving joke book, a historical fiction about a colonial boy, a coloring or puzzle book, and a living history book that is laden with biographical information and facts.
  1. Make a map and learn some Geography.
    Where exactly did the Mayflower set sail from and what was her sea route? Where did the colonists settle?  Buy a roll of brown craft paper, or cut open brown grocery bags and tape them together to form a large surface you can put on the kitchen or entry floor and start outlining the important places that tell the story of the season.  It doesn’t need to be perfect or perfectly to scale!  Older kids can do the harder outlining and labelling, and younger kids can color a whole lot of blue ocean.
  1. Consider Thanksgiving a unit study!
    A unit study is pulling together a variety of activities and lessons around one main theme or topic. By the time you have done several crafts, a few read-alouds, a map, a history lesson, a poem, and thrown in a colonial or Native American recipe, you have created a unit study.  Well done!  This type of learning is not just fun, it caters to all learning styles and ages. Personally, unit studies were my very favorite type of learning.

Take advantage of this uniquely American holiday to enrich your family’s learning!