Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Unit Study: Thanksgiving & Pilgrims

I should have posted this unit before Thanksgiving, I know, but time got away from me, so here it is now. I’ll try to remember to repost some of this, next year for others benefit.

We thoroughly enjoyed studying Thanksgiving this year, it was our first time, so we focused mostly on just laying a foundation, introductory stuff. 

My mom (who homeschooled me and my three sisters) combined efforts with me to teach my 4 year old niece at the same time as us. My mom is great! She found a lot more than I did, and actually started her unit prior to us, so her research really helped. In fact, my mom and niece came up one day so that we could do part of our unit together – which was really fun for the kids, to see each other learning the same things. 


The Mayflower

The first thing we did as a group was make a Mayflower – I saw this idea on Superheroes and Princesses and thought “that looks easy enough” so we decided to try it.

I cut the boat shape out of cardboard, took some white plastic kite pieces and some construction paper.



After the kids colored the boat, we assembled it with tape.

IMG_0046We talked about what it would have been like on the Mayflower, a boat that wasn’t actually made for people to travel on, but supplies. The kids knew from some of their books, that the trip took 2 months, and that 2 people died on the boat on the way to America.

Treyton colored a picture of the mayflower for his lapbook cover. He was so cute, when I would ask him what the name of the boat was he would say “flower something”.


Popcorn Balls

We made popcorn balls (out of popcorn and marshmallow) because the Indians in the Massachusetts area were thought to have invented them and they were probably at the first Thanksgiving. This was obviously a highlight for the kids, messy and tasty. IMG_0056




Pilgrim Dolls

I printed off these pilgrim dolls (already colored) from making friends. IMG_0016I cut them out, and Treyton assembled them. He really liked this activity, and I was pleased to see that there were lots of different types of dolls we could use again in the future. IMG_0014

Pilgrim Home

I’m not sure where my mom came up with this idea, but we made pilgrim houses from craft sticks (we colored them with brown markers), some type of twisted craft paper, and buttons.


I recommend using cardboard for the backing, regular cardstock or construction paper would not be strong enough.

Treyton had a lot of questions about the pilgrim’s houses. He was surprised to learn that they lived in one-room-homes and that the kids usually slept on the floor. I found some pictures of different types of pilgrim houses (I think I found 3) that we added to our lapbook on a house flip-book.


Squanto & Indians

I also had Treyton assemble the Indian paper dolls to add to our lapbook after reading “Squanto and the First Thanksgiving”.  IMG_0015 I was surprised by the amount of detail in a children’s book, but appreciated the simplicity of the read and the illustrations which helped keep Treyton’s attention.

I also printed off a squanto lapbook piece (page 34 of 44) from the Amanda Bennett free unit study off of homeschool share.

Geography Specifics

We mapped out the route the Pilgrims took on a world map, which we then added to our lapbook.

We also talked about the New England states: which states are included and where specifically the Pilgrims lived (Massachusetts).


We naturally, spent some time discussing what we were thankful for and how much the Lord has blessed us. We generally do a Thanksgiving Hand Tree, which we didn’t do this year, instead we decided to add this thankful turkey craft in our lapbook for the things Treyton was thankful for, and a corn flip book for the things Lexie was thankful for.


I also made some of my own food lapbook pieces. One asking what food the Pilgrims and Indian’s had at the First Thanksgiving and Which foods we have at our Thanksgiving.


Lapbook Pieces

I printed our lapbook pieces from all over. I hope I remember them all. Some of the pieces I’ve already referred to above (the pilgrim dolls, house replica with the house flip book, and mayflower cover.

~ Church Flipbook – I drew a church flip book and wrote on the cover, “Why did the Pilgrims leave England?” on the front. I wrote Treyton’s answer on the inside.


~ I also added the pieces that we put on our timeline into our lapbook. To help reinforce what we learned. 

~ I printed off this Thanksgiving Mini-Book which Treyton, Lexie and I colored together. We had fun doing this all together.




IMG_0005~ Seasons Flip Book: Treyton  specifically asked about the pilgrims in each of the seasons, so I quickly made a lapbook piece to show Treyton what the Pilgrim’s first year was like, through the seasons.     IMG_0011  

Unit Goals – Lessons I Wanted to Teach

  • Why did the Pilgrim’s Leave England?
  • Who was here before the Pilgrims?
  • How Did the Pilgrim’s get here?
    • What was it like on the Mayflower
  • Where did the Pilgrims land in America?
  • Map Studies:
    • The Pilgrims Journey
    • Where the Pilgrims landed is called “New England”
      • Which states make up “New England”
  • What was life like for the Pilgrims?
    • Homes
    • Clothing
    • Chores
  • Who was Squanto?
    • What was Squanto’s story?
  • Thanksgiving Food:
    • What were some of the foods they ate at the first thanksgiving?
    • What foods do we like to eat to celebrate Thanksgiving?
  • What are some of the things we are thankful for this year?

On-Line Resources:

Scholastic had a bunch of incredible resources on their site that we watched and learned a lot from. Here are a few of our favorites:

Tour the Mayflower

Learn about the Daily Life of a Pilgrim

Learn more about the Pilgrims and How they Lived


Squanto and the First Thanksgiving

Sam Eaton’s Day

Links of Printables:

I made quiet a few printables to include in our lapbook.

My Thanksgiving Food Lapbook Pieces

How To Plant Corn  Grades 1-3

Coloring Picture of the Mayflower from ABC Teach

Pilgrim Coloring Pages

Thanksgiving Notebook Paper

Thanksgiving Acrostic Poem Printable

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages from Activity Village

My First Thanksgiving Mini Book

Links to Activties:

How to Make a Corn Husk Doll

Complete Mayflower Passenger List – you could use this list to select someone to be who was on the Mayflower, possibly to imagine you were them and to interview them.

Make a Thanksgiving Hand Tree

Make the Mayflower – I found this idea on Superheroes and Princesses

Possible Vocabulary Words:

Pilgrim, Freedom, Disease, Indian, Harvest, Tradition, Mayflower, Thatch – plant stalks used for roofing

Extra On-Line Links:

Amanda Bennett Free Thanksgiving Lapbook Pieces

1+1+1=1 Thanksgiving Ideas


Extra Lapbook Pictures

Like, I said before my mom and I did this unit together, she was gracious enough to send me picture of her and Shayla’s (my niece’s) lapbook that they put together. I thought you all might enjoy it.

They did an outstanding job (yeah, I’m a little jealous about how nice it turned out!!)









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Ticia said...

looks like a nice unit. I'll have to come back to it when it's Thanksgiving next year.

Despite my best intentions we did nothing for Thanksgiving.

Leslie from Gettin' Skooled said...

This is SO wonderful. Thank you SO much for sharing this. This is our first year homeschooling (Kindergarten) and this is exactly the type of study I was hoping to do with my son at Thanksgiving. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these wonderful ideas! I can't wait to use some of them with my own kids!

Becca said...

This is so great, thanks for sharing!!

Michelle said...

Oh my word! I used to follow you back forever ago. You may remember me?? My blog was Losing Michelle.

I'm researching a Thanksgiving Lapbook and this is perfect! We have never done any lapbooking before. You have provided excellent resources.

I have a very simple, SIMPLE question as a first timer. How do I make the lapbook? How do I cut and fold the folders to make the lapbook? Add construction paper?

Thank you so much! I don't blog much anymore and literally read no blogs unless I'm looking for something. This is going to be an adventure and you have everything I need here!

Madison said...

Thanks for all these great ideas! It's probably been a while since you've had comments on this post, but I just found it on Pinterest today and am excited to do a few of these things this week with my kindergartner and twin preschoolers. Blessings!