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Dear Dr. Cherrye,
As I visited an elementary school sharing in Thanksgiving lunch, I was very observant of the atmosphere, and students. Since parents and families were invited to share in this occasion, I wondered if the students had been introduced to thematic lessons teaching them about the history of Thanksgiving in the United States, and how this holiday with family may have impacted their lives and culture. I was disappointed that it appeared to be more of a rushed, money making festivity rather than having any true meaning. I saw no decorations.
The cost of the visitor lunch plate was a whopping $5.00, but the helpings were meager. The students had a choice of turkey and dressing, or chicken nuggets, but the servers appeared to push the chicken nuggets. I did notice that school officials hired a photographer for this event, but this appeared to be more of a school fund raiser rather than a show of family bonding and love because the photos were priced at: $7.00 for one pose, or two poses for $10.00.
Dr. Cherrye, do you have any ideas of how I can assist, or suggest to educators better ways of making this time of year more meaningful, and relative to students? I believe that if students can relate with history from a cultural perspective, this teaches self-identity, dignity, and self-respect.
~ Thanksgiving has to have meaning! ~
Dear Thanksgiving has to have meaning,
Your idea of thematic lessons works for me, too! The lessons can begin a week before big events leading students through various exercises that have meaning to the finale (in this case – holiday lunch at school with the students). The curriculum can easily be centered around your unit as teachers integrate lessons in subject areas. This means even the math and reading teachers can get involved in this social studies lesson. Just think about the increased learning possibilities! Each subject matter teacher could cleverly tie into the main assignments (again Thanksgiving) from various topical, subject matter aspects. See examples below:
Art teachers can use the student’s artistic creativity helping them utilize art as way to express their feelings at Thanksgiving, and awareness. Origami comes to mind as I think of this. How about Turkey origami?
Math teachers can create familiar board games (bingo for example) with turkey images to help build number sense. Simple addition and subtraction games can be created and/or utilized.
English teachers can introduce and use writing skills such as: Analytical, Descriptive, Critical/Evaluative, Reflective as a way for students to generate critical thinking skills, and expressive thoughts.
Descriptive Writing – What? Where? Who? When? and How?
Analytical Writing – How? Why? What if?
Critical/Evaluative Writing – What if? So What? What next?
Reflective Writing – What? Where? Who? When? How? Why? What if? So What and What next?
Students can also compare/contrast the first Thanksgiving with their very own family traditions.
Social Studies Teachers
This is a great subject for children to talk about family traditions, and how their particular family celebrate giving thanks. Social Studies teachers can also talk about the history of Thanksgiving in the United States, and have children analyze the story.
Speaking in front of the class gives children practice on presentation etiquette as well. This is a great time to ask children to speak from cue cards (flash cards), PowerPoint or Prezi presentations.
Map activities can help children locate geographical locations on the map where some students have roots, and even the places where the first Thanksgiving is mentioned and known to have taken place in the United States.
Reading teachers can use this time to reinforce reading passages reviewing Colonial times as students compare/contrast the very first Thanksgiving with their very own experiences.
Reading literacy can be implemented as students learn to draw conclusions, making inferences, and more.
Students can read about Pilgrims (in the past), and Native Americans (past and present).
The Holiday is Upon us
Although teachers and children are already on their Thanksgiving break from school, Dr. Cherrye will offer additional materials/resources to the teachers you intend to support. Perhaps you can save this information for next school year. Here goes:
- Thanksgiving Thematic Unit
- Next Generation Thanksgiving Lesson Plans: Teach with Excellence – Grades 2-6
- Lesson Plans: Thanksgiving
- Thanksgiving Activity Book: Coloring Pages, Word Puzzles, Mazes, Dot-to-Dots and More (Thanksgiving Books)
- Thanksgiving Color by Number for Kids: Education Game Activity and Coloring Book for Toddlers and Kids
- Happy Thanksgiving Activity Book for Kids: Easy and Fun Games for Kids
- 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts for Holidays: Festive Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More
- Thanksgiving Shared: Native Americans
- Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims’ First Year in America
I’ve made it my mission to assist parents in resolving the bullying issues their children are suffering. Offering your feedback and suggestions in the comment section could facilitate meaningful dialog on this critical issue among ourselves and I encourage this. I will respond to each comment in a timely way. Should you wish to speak privately with me, please email be at CherryeVasquez@gmail.com, and I will reply promptly.
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