Thanksgiving Menu: Then & Now
It is believed that the Pilgrim Colonists and the Wampanoag Indians celebrated the very first Thanksgiving feast after their first harvest in 1621 in Plymouth, MA. The harvest festival was religious in nature and took place outdoors, where hundreds of people gathered to partake in the festivities. Food was plentiful for this occasion and the spirit of thankfulness prevailed over the three-day celebration.
Historians believe that on that Thanksgiving day almost 400 years ago the menu consisted of venison – or deer meat – roasted (not stuffed) turkey, wild fowl including ducks, geese, and even swans, fish, lobsters, pumpkin in some form, squash, beans, dried fruits, some sort of cranberry sauce, and dried Indian maize or corn. The sugar supply brought over on the Mayflower from England was nearly exhausted by the time of the first Thanksgiving, so it is widely surmised that wheat pudding may have been one of the only sweet dishes served.
The Pilgrims used many spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and dried fruit in the meat sauces they prepared. The best way to cook things in the 17th century was to roast them. Many of the meats were put on a spit and turned over a fire for six hours at a time to ensure that the meat was evenly cooked. They didn't have ovens so pies and cakes and breads most likely never made it to that first Thanksgiving dinner table in Plymouth.
Today we enjoy delicious meals served in a warm home where it's quite possible a football game can be heard from a nearby television set. At the dining room table many Americans may enjoy herb-roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, creamed corn, candied yams, almond green beans, cranberry-orange relish, turnip, popovers with butter, pumpkin pie, mince pie, apple pie, and vanilla ice cream.
Although there are many differences between the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and the holiday we celebrate today, the one tradition that remains constant is the celebration of being thankful.
Make Your Own Holiday Greeting Cards
- A thoughtful holiday card can go a long way to cheer up someone's day. Have each student create a beautiful card and email it to someone they want to thank.
Holiday Homework Assignment
- Assign students to write down their favorite holiday recipe to compile into a classroom cookbook.
- Next to each recipe in the cookbook, include the contributor's name and perhaps a photo.
- Include a paragraph explaining why each student chose a particular recipe.
- Have a contest for the best cover design.
- If you have the resources, make copies for each student. Now they have a lasting memory of their Thanksgiving in your class!
- Assign students to make their favorite Thanksgiving dish and bring it to class on feast day.
- Ask volunteers to bring in plates, napkins, utensils, cups, and drinks.
- Have a delicious smorgasbord to celebrate everything you and your students are thankful for.
- Have students draw a Venn Diagram.
- Ask them to label one circle "First Thanksgiving" and the other circle "Today."
- Students should write foods mentioned in the Thanksgiving article in the appropriate circle. Foods that were eaten on the first Thanksgiving and are still eaten today should be written in the overlapping portion of the diagram.
The end of the school year is quickly approaching! Celebrate with fun activities, then prepare yourself and your students with report card advice, summer reading guides, summer math, and more.
Common Core Lessons & Resources
Is your school district adopting the Common Core? Work these new standards into your curriculum with our reading, writing, speaking, social studies, and math lessons and activities. Each piece of content incorporates the Common Core State Standards into the activity or lesson.
Top 10 Galleries
Explore our most popular Top 10 galleries, from Top 10 Behavior Management Tips for the Classroom and Top 10 Classroom Organization Tips from Veteran Teachers to Top 10 Free (& Cheap) Rewards for Students and Top 10 Things Every Teacher Needs in the Classroom. We'll help you get organized and prepared for every classroom situation, holiday, and more! Check out all of our galleries today.
June Calendar of Events
June is full of holidays and events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum. Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event, including: Summer Begins (6/21), Helen Keller's Birthday (6/27/1880), World War I Began (6/28/1914), and Meteor Day (6/30). Plus, celebrate Child Vision Awareness Month, National Rivers Month, and National Safety Month all June long!
Causes We Support: We Give Books
Visit We Give Books, an ever-growing, free online library of children's picture books! For every book read on the site, a brand-new book will be donated to a children's literacy campaign of your choosing. Read aloud to students or encourage them read independently, and you'll teach them to help others at the same time. Giving is as simple as reading!