Who were the Pilgrims?

I am reposting a paragraph I wrote last year about Thanksgiving:

I know there is a lot of controversy about teaching about Native Americans and accuracy in the history of the first Thanksgiving.  But I also think that children enjoy the fun and traditions that have long been associated with this holiday.  I guess I don’t have a big moral issue over this, I just want to play.  If I had any families with Native American roots I invited them to share any traditions or cultural things they would like.  I talked about why people called Native Americans Indians.  I tied this back to my Columbus Day activities when I first talked about the original occupants of this land.   I genuinely hope I don’t offend anyone.

ANYWAY – I usually introduced Thanksgiving by telling my Kindergartners a story about the Pilgrims, using flannelboard pictures or laminated pictures with magnetic tape on the back.  I always found that my kids really listened and remembered a story better when I just told it to them, instead of reading the information.

I never wrote this story down before, but here is the basic story I told.  I put up the figures of the King, the Pilgrims, etc. as I mentioned them in the story.

Story of the Pilgrims

After telling this story I also read several children’s books about Thanksgiving, I thought giving this background information helped the children understand these books a little more easily.

Here are some pictures that you might use if you choose to tell the story.  Originally I found pictures from a coloring book that I traced on Pellon interfacing and colored with markers, those work great on a flannelboard.    These could be placed in a pocket chart or backed with magnetic tape.


Thanksgiving clipart

I had a very large Mayflower ship that I put on a wall of our classroom in early November, before I told the story.  This was also at a point in the year when I was encouraging the children to label things in the classroom using phonetic spelling.  As a class we wrote the word Mayflower – using traditional spelling.  I pointed out that Mayflower is a compound word – one word made up of two smaller words.  This is a wonderful time to introduce the concept of compound words:





From that point on children were always noticing and commenting on compound words for the rest of the year.  I also liked introducing it because I was really reinforcing leaving spaces between words – when we saw that a compound word did not have a space between the 2 smaller words it was another reason to draw their attention to the whole concept of spaces.

When I introduced the history of Thanksgiving we also began making our Thanksgiving book – check out that post under the category November and Thanksgiving.

Each child also made a very simple Pilgrim boy or girl using geometric shapes.  We covered the big Mayflower with these Pilgrims – very cute!  Ah, if only I had taken pictures!

I gave the children tracers for the faces, hats and bodies – I cut the rest of the rectangle pieces on the paper cutter so we wouldn’t waste as much paper – finished Pilgrims were 10-12 inches tall.  I encouraged the children to use scrap paper to add details like hands, shoes, belts, etc.

Later in our Thanksgiving study we made a cooperative class book about Thanksgiving – check that out in last year’s post too!

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lucille
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 06:16:57

    Here is a funny kindergarten story that happened yesterday after I started teaching about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. The children were coloring a picture to add to their time lines and one little guy asked what color the “indians” hair was. Another little guy then asked, “and what color was the humans hair?” I guess I’ll be doing some reteaching today. lol


  2. Rachel Kuser
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 14:37:23

    Hello! I was wondering if you had any clever ideas for classroom games/activities you would play with your class on celebration days such as Thanksgiving, a holiday party, etc. I usually play some sort of BINGO, pin the tail or something, or hot potato. Party days are so exhausting, and I’m not looking to “re-invent the wheel.” I just thought I could come to the “Queen of Great Ideas” to see what sorts of things you did on these fun days. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again for your creativity and time in writing this blog. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy reading your new entries (I look daily (-:) and have encorporated so much into my own classroom!


  3. TinyEducator
    Nov 10, 2013 @ 20:37:10

    Love the Thanksgiving clipart! Thank you for sharing love your Thanksgiving ideas.



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