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Thanksgiving Ideas for the Classroom, Grades K-5

Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans, Activity Ideas and Other Curriculum Resources

Found in: Language Arts & Literature, Social Studies, PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Lesson Plans & Activities

Lesson Plans

The First Thanksgiving
In these leveled units, students in grades K2, 3-5, and 6-8 learn about the hardships encountered by the Pilgrims on their voyage and in their new settlement and explore different aspects of Plymouth colony's first harvest feast. Teachers will find lessons and teacher guides as well as interactive teaching tools and multimedia resources.

What Really Happened? Comparing Stories of the First Thanksgiving  Students (4-12) read and analyze the perspectives of different versions of the first Thanksgiving story.


The First Thanksgiving Student Activities for Grades PreK-12
This site includes lessons, activities, videos, slide shows, printables, and more.

Thanksgiving Projects
4-8. 16 Thanksgiving themed projects and activities.

You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving
4-8. In this interactive presentation, students use the skills of historians to explore the myth and misconception surrounding “The First Thanksgiving.” Requires Flash Player 6. Includes a teachers guide.

Background Resources


Native Land Map an interactive and enlargeable world map that outlines native territories, languages, and treaties. A Teacher’s Guide is provided.

Thanksgiving  Teachers Guide, primary sources, analysis tools from the Library of Congress.

Teaching About the First Thanksgiving
Discover the many meanings of Thanksgiving by exploring life in 17th-century America and the experiences of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags.

Teaching Resources for Thanksgiving
Lessons, extensions, multimedia resources, and recommended books.

Native American Perspectives on Thanksgiving       
Links to additional resources.

Grades 4-8 Teacher and Student Resources for American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving (PDF icon PDF, 4.1 MB, 10 pgs.)
The National Museum of the American Indian provides a study guide, full-size printable versions of poster images, a separate lesson on the topic of Thanksgiving, and more.

Thanksgiving Timeline

Thanksgiving on the Web
A source of Thanksgiving postcards, recipes, facts, and trivia.


Mayflower History
Features Pilgrim history and Plymouth Colony primary sources.


The Mashpee Wampanoag Timeline
An annotated timeline 1616- 2007.

Native Languages of the Americas: Wampanoag
A source of information on language and culture. Includes a fact sheet and an introduction to Wampanoag Indian mythology.

NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art
This site focuses on the arts of Eastern Woodland Indian Peoples.

Turkey Trivia

Thanksgiving Census Facts
Consider a statistical view of Thanksgiving. Find out how many turkeys are raised for Thanksgiving, how many pounds of potatoes Americans consume around the holiday, and how many pies will be produced. Links to other Thanksgiving quiz and turkey facts.

Turkey Facts
Learn about wild and domesticated turkeys in the United States.


Thanksgiving Recipes for Kids
Kids can help mom, dad, brother, or sister make sweet potato pie, marshmallow pilgrim hats, and turkey cookies.

Pass the Dessert: America's Thanksgiving Recipes
Find seven recipes for old fashioned Thanksgiving desserts and listen to an audio clip as the some of the finished recipes are tasted and rated.

Online Quizzes

Thanksgiving Quiz
Take and grade these 10 question quizzes.

Thanksgiving Trivia
Test your Thanksgiving savvy with this 80 question trivia test.


Ten Thanksgiving Books for Children
K-8. Annotated reading list.

Online Video

New Plimoth Plantation Virtual Field Trips
K-12. Tour the Pilgrim Village, the Wampanoag Homesite, and the Plimoth Plantation.

History of Thanksgiving
14 brief videos covering Thanksgiving history, food, football, and more.


last updated: October 16, 2019


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This Thanksgiving weekend, StoryCorps will work with teachers and high school students to preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans. The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a national assignment to engage people in the act of listening, and the pilot project is specially designed for grades 7-12 across the curriculum.
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Best of Works4Me: Thanksgiving

NEA Staff Editors

Quick ideas for celebrating the holiday, written and submitted by readers themselves.