Analyzing Thanksgiving Stories - National Council of Teachers of English
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Analyzing Thanksgiving Stories

On Thursday, many Americans will be thinking of traditional pilgrims and the Wampanoag people as they sit down for a turkey dinner. Those traditional images, however, are often based more on nostalgic visions of Thanksgiving and life in Plymouth Colony. Choose any of the following resources to explore a wider, historical vision of the first Thanksgiving as you analyze these stories with students.

The lesson Packing the Pilgrim’s Trunk: Personalizing History in the Elementary Classroom helps students in grades K–2 explore who the Pilgrims were, how they came to North America, and how they adapted and built new lives at Plymouth Colony. Students explore connections between their own life experiences and those of the Pilgrims.

Take a look at the ways that stories develop meaning in relationship to our own experiences with the lesson Myth and Truth: The First Thanksgiving, which explores the stories and myths surrounding the Wampanoag, the pilgrims, and the “First Thanksgiving”.

Read the English Journal article “A Tale of Two Cemeteries: Gravestones as Community Artifacts“, which describes an activity that uses eighteenth-century gravestones to discuss life in colonial America with students of the twenty-first century.

Read against the traditional images of Thanksgiving and colonial America with the College Composition and Communication article “Plymouth Rock Landed on Us: Malcolm X’s Whiteness Theory as a Basis for Alternative Literacy“.

For additional resources, check the ReadWriteThink calendar entry: America celebrates Thanksgiving Day.