Learning About Thanksgiving, Part 2 {Pilgrim Life and The First Thanksgiving}

Last week we spent a great deal of time learning about Pilgrim life and The First Thanksgiving using my Thanksgiving unit.  Like a lot of teachers, I like to integrate language arts skills with social studies, so we did a lot of reading (independent and whole group), fact gathering, listening with a purpose, recording, and so forth.

We started the week by reading this Scholastic mini book about Pilgrim life. After using a Reading A-Z book the week before, the students were beyond excited when I told them they got to keep this book!

After reading and discussing this text, we created an anchor chart of facts that we learned from the book (see the chart on the left pictured below).  The students used this information to complete a Venn Diagram comparing Pilgrim life to life today.  I helped them get started, and then they finished it up on their own.

The following day, we watched a Scholastic Video about pilgrim life (Pilgrim Village).  I stopped the video periodically and had the students write down a fact they had learned up until that point.  At the end of the video, the students shared the facts they wrote down and we made an anchor chart (see the chart on the right).

The students used both of these charts (plus older charts from the previous week) to complete this could/had/were organizer.  This always seems like such a simple task, but really it provides some challenge.  The students had to draw conclusions in order to fill in some of the categories (i.e. they knew the Pilgrims worked from morning until night and did most things by hand and from scratch. They concluded that this meant they were hard workers).

I love how this student remembered that the Pilgrims wore colorful clothing.

On Wednesday, we read another Scholastic mini book.  The photo below shows the resource book that I got the two mini books from. 

After reading the book, the students completed a circle map.

Then, they shared their ideas with their teaching buddy and added facts to their circle map as needed.  After that, we discussed the facts they had recorded. 

On Thursday we continued to learn about The First Thanksgiving.  I read The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving aloud to them and they used their listening skills (and mini whiteboards) to write down facts as I read.  In keeping with tradition, the students shared their facts and we created another whole group anchor chart.  We really worked on gathering facts this week!


On Friday, the students used all of our anchor charts to complete this Truth or Lie? activity.  They LOVE this activity so much because they get a kick out of trying to trick their friends.  I always tell them to take a true fact and change it ever so slightly so that it isn't an obvious lie.

I usually include some some paragraph writing when I cover Thanksgiving, but we were finishing up our turkey writing and we also started preparing for our school play, which means, unfortunately, that some of our regular learning gets replaced with daily play practice.

This week we will wrap up our unit with a game of Thanksgiving Fact and Opinion Scoot and learning about turkeys (both activities are also included in my Thanksgiving unit). I can't wait to tackle these last few activities! 

Happy three day week, everyone!!

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Do You Know How to Cook a Turkey?

I know the "How to Cook a Turkey" theme is not a new one, but this year, I took a different approach to this fun and endearing writing topic.  Hopefully, you'll get a new idea or two from this post!

Last week, I introduced this writing topic to my students by pairing them up and giving them a set of recipes.  They were tasked with identifying what all the recipes had in common (i.e. they all had a list of ingredients, step by step directions, etc). The students recorded their ideas on their mini whiteboards.

We then discussed, whole group, the similarities in all the recipes and I was then able to relate that to the writing they would be doing.  Their writing would also include a list of ingredients, step by step directions, and specific details related to how long the turkey would need to cook, etc.

The next day, the students once again worked with a partner, this time to brainstorm possible ingredients. Then, the students shared their ideas and we made a class anchor chart (forgot to take a picture!!).  Most of their ideas were realistic, but there were a few questionable suggestions such as caramel sauce (this is not the first time a student has suggested this ingredient) and peanut butter. 

The students then wrote the first sentence of their recipe/directions that told the reader what they would need to cook their turkey.

The following day, the students set out to write their directions.  First, we brainstormed the kinds of information that they might include for each step (see anchor chart below).  Then, the students wrote their own sentences, making sure they included details such as baking time, how to do certain tasks, etc.


Enter Monday.  The students worked with a partner to peer edit and revise. 

We spent the past two days publishing.  Instead of publishing their recipes in the form of a paragraph, they published them as a recipe book.  They wrote out each part of the recipe on its own page, and created illustrations to go with each step.  Here is a sampling of their work.

 I love how specific this student got when she wrote her "next" step.

I love this student's concluding sentence and diagram and just had to share it.

I love how these turned out!  They are pretty well written and oh so sweet.  I hope the parents enjoy reading their child's recipe...and, I wonder if any of them will be brave enough to try it out.  Ha!

This writing prompt and materials are from my Write On! The Fall Edition pack.  Click here to see this product on TpT.


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Learning About Thanksgiving, Part 1: The Mayflower

This week we started our Thanksgiving unit.  I always begin my unit with the Mayflower.  The kids always find it fascinating.  They love learning about who was aboard, what they ate, what they were allowed to bring, and so on.  Here's a look at what we did with this historic ship/voyage this week.

On Tuesday, I read aloud some pages from If You Sailed the Mayflower.

Rather than make an anchor chart of facts, we completed a graphic organizer.  

I prompted the students along the way, but they provided all the answers. I realize that most of the time organizers do not require the use of actual sentences, but I'm always looking for ways to practice writing complete sentences! Then, the students decorated the background to go with the Mayflower image in the center of the organizer (thankfully, they all colored theirs to look like the ship was out to sea).

On Wednesday, we watched a video about the Mayflower on the Scholastic website.  They have a series of videos about the Pilgrims and Plymouth.  We will be watching another video next week.

The video was a bit long (just under 20 minutes), so I stopped it periodically and had the students write down one fact they learned up to that point.  They wrote these facts on their mini whiteboards.

What I loved about this is that they were watching the video with a purpose and they were held accountable because they knew they would be doing something with the facts they collected along the way.

I'm sure you're dying to know what they did with their facts. They made a book!  OK, OK, first, they shared their facts and we created an anchor chart.

In any event, the students used the facts from the anchor chart to make a book.

(OK, I just realized that two of these kiddos wrote about the same fact...sorry about the repetition...I tried to show some variety, but I guess I wasn't a very observant photographer-eek!)

I let them pick any four facts they wanted/liked and tasked them with writing a complete sentence for each fact (one sentence per page in the book).  Then, they illustrated the pages in their book.

Today, the kids completed a sort activity.  We read about what the Pilgrims could and could not bring aboard the Mayflower and then the students completed the sort. I always have the students color code their sorts as this helps them to focus a bit more and it keeps them organized.

After learning about the Mayflower and the voyage that the Pilgrims endured for 66 days, the students all agree that they would not have liked to be on that ship.  The thought of eating moldy cheese, salted meat, and being crowded in dark, damp quarters just didn't sound like fun to them.  And, I have to admit, I totally agree!

The Mayflower book, sort, and organizer are from my Thanksgiving unit, which is available on TpT.  I'm looking forward to next week when we will focus on Pilgrim life and The First Thanksgiving.  Stay tuned!

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