Fall Holiday Resources

Thanksgiving Resources

Almost all of us remember tracing our hands to make colorful construction paper turkeys, acting out the first Thanksgiving, and reading about Pilgrims during our November school days. What we may not remember is that the story of the first Thanksgiving that we learned in grade school was often incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading and probably missed some of the more interesting historical details about this important national holiday. Fortunately, there are a variety of primary sources and lesson plans available on the Web that can help you and your students celebrate our national day of thanksgiving in ways that are both fun and informative. Resources and activities can help you bring historical accuracy, cultural sensitivity, and a broader context to discussions about the quintessentially American holiday.

(information provided by UNC School of Education)

Resources for Primary & Intermediate Grades:

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (021313)

DVD, PIJS, 25 min., 1973

This sweet, heartwarming 1973 offering from the Peanuts gang (and Charles Schulz) once again shows Charlie Brown in a pickle, as his erstwhile friends impose upon the hapless would-be-host to provide a memorable and traditional Thanksgiving feast. And as much as Charlie Brown would rather forget the whole thing, he just can't help but try for fear of being labeled a failure. Ultimately it's up to Snoopy and Woodstock to save Charlie from certain embarrassment, and it falls to Linus to impart to all assembled the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Colonial Life for Children: Plimoth Plantation (021387)

DVD, PIJ, 23 min.

Tracy and Greg, wondering what life for the Pilgrims was really like, blast back in time to the original Plimoth Plantation of 1620, the first colonial settlement in southern New England. Follow along as they learn about daily life and culture, the roles of Pilgrim men and women, the voyage of the Mayflower and the importance of the Mayflower Compact. They begin to understand that thanksgiving for the Pilgrims was a daily practice, not just a feast held once a year. A Wampanoag Indian woman also teaches the kids about the food, shelter and customs of the region's Native American people.

Early Settlers (022479)

DVD, PI, 25 min.

Irene Bedard, the recognized voice of Disney's Pocahontas, narrates this journey through American history created especially for children. This program recounts the story of the Pilgrims and the voyage of the Mayflower to Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower Compact, Squanto and the first Thanksgiving, and life in colonial Williamsburg. Part of the American History for Children DVD Series, providing children with a balanced portrayal of U.S. history.

Giving Thanks (021283)

DVD, P, 8 min., WESTON WOODS, 1998

Known as the Thanksgiving Address, this Native American good morning message is based on the belief that the natural world is a precious and rare gift, from the moon and the stars to the tiniest blade of grass. Narrated by Chief Jake Swamp in English and in the Mohawk language.

Holidays for Children: Thanksgiving (021395)

DVD, PI, 23 min.

Thanksgiving is a time to remember how much we rely upon and are grateful for the earth's bounty. Children learn the story behind the first Thanksgiving celebration, traditionally the American harvest holiday, and they visit Plimoth Plantation. Nanticoke tribe dancers re-create the sense of excitement and wonder the Pilgrims must have felt upon meeting the Native Americans. Children learn an Abnaki tribe myth on the origin of corn that teaches the importance of sharing resources, and a craft demonstration presents how to make a miniature Mayflower from walnut shells.

William Bradford (Animated Hero Classics) (021318)

DVD, PI, 30 min.

William Bradford fled with the Pilgrims to the new world, where he discovered that the price for religious freedom was hunger, sickness and death. As a peacemaker, he befriended the Native Americans who taught struggling Pilgrims how to survive. William Bradford became Governor of the new land. After their first critical harvest, he set aside time for the Pilgrims and their new Native American friends to feast together and express their thanks to God. Thus, William Bradford became the Father of Thanksgiving Day.

Pilgrims: A Nonfiction Companion To Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday (350075)

Mary Pope Osborne; Lexile: 550L; multiple books, PI

When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday, they had lots of questions. What was it like to sail on the Mayflower? Why did the Pilgrims choose Plymouth? How did they survive in their new home? What did they really eat at the first Thanksgiving? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts. Filled with up-to-date information, photos, illustrations, and fun tidbits from Jack and Annie, the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers are the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discovered in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message (350439)

Chief Jake Swamp; Lexile: 1040L; multiple books, PIJ

Giving Thanks is a special children's version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada and that is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations.

Search the following titles for streaming & interactive materials:

America's National Holidays

Communities of the Past

The Pilgrims: Alliance with Massasoit’s People and the First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims of New England

The Pilgrims of Plimoth

The Surprising Origin of Thanksgiving Foods

Thanksgiving | Grade 1 Word Search

Thanksgiving | Grade 2 Crossword

Thanksgiving | Grade 2 Word Search

Thanksgiving Vocabulary Word Search

Thanksgiving Day

Resources for Junior & Senior Grades:

Guests (350605)

Michael Dorris; Lexile: 850L; multiple books, IJ

A story about Thanksgiving from the point of view of the hosts: the Native Americans who were kind enough to share what they had with the Pilgrims. Moss, a young boy who is unhappy with the white strangers' intrusion, sets out on a journey of self-discovery, which will change his life forever.

Pilgrims and the Mayflower (750074)


The striking contrast between the Pilgrim’s story as taught in schools and the true-life adventure of persecution, a harrowing voyage, and a desperate struggle to survive will capture your students interest. An Admiralty appraisal of the ship, Mayflower, a suggested list of provisions for the would-be-settlers to bring from England, and a contemporary account of the landing in New England provide vivid details. The contents of this Jackdaw feature Broadsheets: To Dwell Among Crystal Rivers, Sixty-Six Days, Why Settle in the Wilderness?, The New Colony, Timeline: The Mayflower Pilgrims, 1492-1622 Historical Documents: Booklet: The Pilgrims and Their England. The Pilgrims’ request to settle in Leyden, 1609 Hubbard map: first map of New England from the New World, 1677. The Plimoth Patent granted by King James I to the settlers, 1621. Pages from Proceedings of the Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England, & MORE!

Search the following titles for streaming & interactive materials:

(Hint - Search the title below, and then click "interactive resource" or "streaming video" in the Narrow Search filters)


A History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving | All About the Holidays

The Great Thanksgiving Listen

The Pilgrims: Mayflower Compact

The Pilgrims: The Origins of Separatism

The Pilgrims: Native American Relationship to the Land

The Pilgrims: European Plague in Native New England, 1616-1619

The Pilgrims: The Beaver Trade and Colonial New England

How to Prepare (Thanksgiving) Food in Space

Desperate Crossing: Untold Story of the Mayflower

Inside Energy | Fueling Our Feast: How Fossil Fuels Become Our Food

Alternative Resources

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

The text of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation, which established the tradition of celebrating the holiday. Provided by the Classical Library.

Franklin Roosevelt’s 1939 Thanksgiving Proclamation

The American Presidency Project provides the text of Roosevelt’s 1939 Proclamation.The FDR presidential library article “The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings” explains why the 1939 Thanksgiving was controversial, and provides images of letters and telegrams from American citizens about the holiday.

In Celebration of Thanksgiving

This resources provided by the Library of Congress provides information about the American custom of the Thanksgiving Meal, the Thanksgiving Sermon and Thanksgiving Poetry.

Thanksgiving Timeline

This timeline, provided by the Library of Congress gives a wealth of information about the history of Thanksgiving (1541-2001).

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