We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.
Q: Thanksgiving is a holiday that doesn’t seem to get its due. I want my children to understand the meaning of the holiday, as it is an important part of American history. What kinds of activities can I do with my children that will teach them more about this important day?
A: I agree that Thanksgiving doesn’t get the same attention as other holidays. Yet it is an important part of American history that should not be relegated to a big meal. Here are a few ideas.
- Print up a paper that says, “I am thankful for … ” and every day in November encourage your kids fill in the blank. Then, read a few of their answers on Thanksgiving.
- Print up an Indian sign language chart and use them to tell a story.
- Cook a few original colony foods (you can look these up on the Internet) and talk about the first feast.
- Try your hand at several colonial crafts like weaving and pottery making with homemade clay.
- Get an archery board and shoot arrows.
- Build a campfire and try to cook something over it.
Activities like these will make the holiday come alive and give an appreciation of what times were like during colonial days.
Finally, find quotes about the holiday, such as this one from Abraham Lincoln: “But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.” Talk about what Lincoln meant and how your family can remember to give God the glory for all you have.
What do you do to teach your children about Thanksgiving?
Source: Read & Write Booklets: Thanksgiving: 10 Nonfiction Booklets That Teach About the Mayflower, Pilgrims, Wampanoag, and More! by Alyse Sweeney (Scholastic Teaching Resources, 2010)