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The First Thanksgiving: Receive Letters from a Pilgrim and a Wampanoag Child

Tf_thanksgiving_1650letters Give your class a glimpse of history through the eyes of two school-age children. Sign up to receive three letters from a young girl traveling on the Mayflower* and three letters from a young Native American boy*.

The letters will arrive in your email inbox on November 6, 13, and 20. Each one includes fun facts about the time period and thoughtful insights that make excellent jumping off points for class discussion or further investigation of The First Thanksgiving.

Tips for Teaching With the Thanksgiving Emails

Make the Thanksgiving Emails an Event

  • Make a sign for the door announcing that "Today is the day our class receives an email from Plymouth."
  • Get a straw cornucopia and make it a Thanksgiving mailbox. Print a copy of the email for each child and place them in the cornucopia. Let students pick up their own copy of the email and keep it in a folder. Have students write responses to each email and keep the pairs of letters together.
  • Print out a copy of the emails, enlarge them on a copy machine, and hang them up on your Thanksgiving bulletin board. If you really want to get creative, do a wash of the letters with a tea solution and burn the edges with a match to make them appear old.

Have Your Students Share their Thanksgiving Experience

  • Open the email and let students pair up to go to the computer to read the email together.
  • Have a special student stand up and read the email to the class. This could be a reward for that student or a way to build confidence in reading aloud.
  • You might want to have a Readers Theater performance in which one student plays the role of the Pilgrim and one student plays the Native American, and they can read all of the letters in sequence. Let students in the audience ask questions and then do a compare and contrast exercise to discuss the difference in lifestyles of the Native Americans and the Pilgrim settlers.
  • Print out copies of the letters and let your students deliver them to other classrooms.

Sign up by Wednesday, November 5 to be sure your receive all six Thanksgiving letters by email.

*Characters are fictional composites based on factual information.

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