Thanksgiving Teacher Resources

Background Reading for Teachers

National Museum of the American Indian November 2015 Educator Newsletter: A compilation of useful resources provided by the National Museum of the American Indian.

Harvest Ceremony: Beyond the Thanksgiving Myth: A study guide from the National Museum of the American Indian.

Ideas for Classroom Discussion: Do’s and Don’ts from the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian.

American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving (Grades 4-8): A resource for teachers from the National Museum of the American Indian.

Native Perspectives on Thanksgiving: A blog article containing lists of resources either created or compiled by Project Archaeology.

Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center: Center for Innovation in Early Learning Blog
Aimed at preschool educators, this series of blog posts helps teachers and parents reconsider some of the traditional lessons and activities used during the Thanksgiving seasons:

Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving”: Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin briefly tackle 11 Thanksgiving myths.

Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Thanksgiving: “It Has Never Been About Honoring Native Americans”: Interview and transcript with indigenous historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

The True History & Foods of Thanksgiving: A podcast and article from the Table Underground interviewing three indigenous educators.

Books for Students

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret Bruchac.

Native Americans in New England: A list of books from

Good Books about Thanksgiving: A list of books from indigenous scholar and educator Debbie Reese.

Activities for Younger Students (Preschool/Elementary)

Native Voices Programs Guide: A booklet of lesson plans and crafts compiled by the Boston Children’s Museum in collaboration with the Narragansett, Mashpee Wampanoag, Aquinnah Wampanoag, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy tribes in New England. Activities include: natural dyes, basket weaving, corn husk dolls, the game hubbub, exploring cranberries, pinch pots, paper bag makuk, and natural detectives.

Corn Necklace Activity: The National Museum of the American Indian prepared this with an accompanying short 2 minute video about corn.

Science Experiment: Sprouting Indian Corn: A simple experiment that explores germination and plants.

Cardboard Tube Corn Craft: A corn craft using cardboard tubes, construction paper, and paper lunch bags.

Popsicle Stick Indian Corn: A craft using popsicle sticks and buttons to create colorful ears of corn.

10 Corn Themed Activities: A compilation of corn crafts and activities.

Activities for Older Students (Upper Elementary and Middle School)

1621 A New Look at Thanksgiving (Grades 5-8): A lesson plan from the Indian Education Division of the Montana Office of Public Instruction to accompany the 2004 book by O’Neill Grace and Bruchac.

Thanksgiving Mourning (Grades 6-12): A lesson plan about Native American perspectives on Thanksgiving from the Teaching Tolerance project.

Thanksgiving Interactive: You are the Historian: An online activity from Plimoth Plantation.

This Land is Home: A Seasonal Round in Native New England (Grades 3-5): A self-paced, virtual learning module about the connections of seasons and the environment to indigenous lifeways.


What Was the First Thanksgiving Like?: World Book Explains: A Native Mashpee Wampanoag at Plimoth Plantation, talks about the first Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective.

Thanksgiving: One Word: Native Americans were asked to respond to the word “Thanksgiving.”

What Does Thanksgiving Mean for Native Americans?: A Huffington Post interview discussing the complexity of Thanksgiving for Native Americans.

Native American Girls Describe the real history behind Thanksgiving: A Teen Vogue video.