November 15, 2012
Now a seven-year tradition, third graders learned about the first Thanksgiving in America by reading literature from the perspectives of the pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe. After the unit, which included research, the growing of plants, and a readers’ theater performance, the children were asked to share what impressed them most about the country’s early beginnings.
Many students recognized the importance the Wampanoag tribe, who initially helped the pilgrims survive and eventually thrive in the new world. Specifically, some were fascinated by the efficient farming techniques that the Wampanoag taught.
The young historians also were impressed by how closely connected and collaborative the original families were. They “made houses with their bare hands” and “stayed in each others’ houses until all the houses were built or they wouldn’t have survived.” One student was impressed with their organization: “I read that the pilgrims had beds under their beds to save space.”
Many students were awed at the courage of the original settlers. “The Mayflower was a cargo ship and not meant for a lot of people.” Many people “had never been on boats before” and the food supply became infested so that “pilgrims had to pick bugs out of their food.” The crossing “took 62 days and passengers knew they wouldn’t see some of their loved ones ever again.”
The first Thanksgiving feast was three days long, which students felt was completely justified given the pilgrims’ big and small victories in a new world. And who better to celebrate with than members of the Wampanoag tribe who had brought them so far?
May all of us give thanks to our families and friends who have supported us through our challenging times.
Head of School
Harvest Feast Readers’ Theater
November 15, 2012