Thanksgiving Day Activity

Hi once again. As it happened in October, now during the month of November, teachers like for us Auxiliares to talk about the topic of Thanksgiving with their students. Not only to address the topic but also discuss how are this tradition and customs celebrated in the USA? So as the month progresses and the Thanksgiving date celebration is approaching I decided that the best way to share this with my classes was to prepare a presentation about Thanksgiving and talk about my experiences, and how I celebrated this tradition with my family. Once the presentation was shared with the students I opened up a forum for them to ask questions and also to compare how this USA tradition compares and or is similar to any Spanish traditions.

After we had the questions and answers session I, went ahead and shared with my classes an activity based on the topic discussed. This always help as students love games, activities, etc that usually captures their attention and encourages participation. After all, this is one of the most important things a teacher and in this case an Auxiliar should have in mind and should work towards achieving this with his students.

The following shows the lesson shared with the class:

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I. Topic introduction

This is a chance to ask students if they are familiar with the topic and let them know that this is a tradition mainly observed in the USA, it´s territories and Canada.

II. What is Thanksgiving and why is it celebrated?

Festivities origins

Thanksgiving is a federal holiday that is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. This holiday is a tradition that began in 1621 when a group of people called the “pilgrims” celebrated a good harvest by having a feast to give thanks.

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III. Who were the pilgrims?

The pilgrims were a small group of people in the 1600s who lived in England. In England in the 1600s it was illegal to not belong to the Church of England. The pilgrims did not agree with the Church of England and therefore decided to go to the New World (a.k.a. today’s USA) so that they could be free to practice their own religion.

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IV. Historic facts

On Sept. 16, 1620 the Pilgrims left England on a ship called the Mayflower. There were 110 people on board. The trip lasted 65 days, a little more than two months, and they finally spotted land on November 21st. They landed in a place called Plymouth Rock in modern-day Massachusetts.

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A. Pilgrims in their new home

That first winter was very hard for the pilgrims and less than 50 people survived it. Luckily, in the spring the pilgrims met a tribe of Native Americans, (Wampanoag Tribe) and they showed the pilgrims how to live and grow food in their new home.

B. The 1st Thanksgiving

With the Native American’s help, the harvest in October was successful. The Pilgrims had built new homes, they had made friends with their Native American neighbors and now they had finally grown enough food to keep them alive during the long coming winter that was coming. It was time to celebrate. The Pilgrim Governor announced a day of thanksgiving, and the colonists and the Native Americans had a 3-day celebration. From then on a celebration to give thanks for the harvest became an annual tradition, and in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday.

V. Modern day traditions

A. How is Thanksgiving celebrated in America today?

Today, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by eating a feast with their family, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and watching American football games.

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B. Traditional Thanksgiving day food?

In the United States we call this Thanksgiving day feast as this is a large meal to celebrate an event. In this case Thanksgiving day. The most common food eaten on Thanksgiving is TURKEY, but a normal Thanksgiving feast normally consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, corn, cranberry sauce, and pies for dessert. The most common pie is pumpkin pie.

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C. The Macys Day Parade

Another common thing to do on Thanksgiving is to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 1924 Macy’s,the biggest chain store in the United States at the time, decided to sponsor a parade to celebrate Thanksgiving. There were floats, bands and even live animals. The parade was so successful that Macy’s decided to do it every year.

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D. Black Friday Sales

The day after Thanksgiving, always a Friday, is called Black Friday.

This type of traditions I consider are the ones on the negative side of the celebration as it usually takes away the original spirit of why we celebrate this on the first place. And on the other side it shows how America has become such a consumerist oriented Nation.

On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 am, or earlier, and offer huge sales to begin the shopping season. For example this year some stores are offering iPad 4s for only 300 dollars. Black Friday is not actually an official holiday, but some businesses give their employees the day off. Unless you work in a store, then you will definitely be working! It is the busiest shopping day of the year. People wait in line at stores for hours and hours. Many even sleep in parking lots in order to be at the beginning of the line. And things can get pretty wild……

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Below you can find two short videos that I shared with my classes. Here the topic is discussed in a simpler way and since it´s a video kids usually pay attention to it and they love it:

VI. Questions and Answers Session

VII. Thanksgiving activity games and ideas

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