What’s Happening This Week
There is much more to explore in our calendar. Find other important events in literary history, authors' birthdays, and a variety of holidays, each with related lessons and resources.
Looking for age-appropriate book recommendations, author interviews, and fun activity ideas? Check out our podcasts.
America celebrates Thanksgiving Day today.
|Grades||5 – 12|
|Calendar Activity Type||Holiday & School Celebration|
Although the holiday has been celebrated for over 200 years, the fourth Thursday of November didn't become the official Thanksgiving Day until 1941, when Franklin Roosevelt signed the holiday into Federal law for the first time. Up until that time, the date had been in flux.
Share the book Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson, which offers a glimpse of Sarah Hale's spirit and drives home the message that a letter writing campaign can make a difference. Hale wrote persistently to officials in many levels of government promoting the observance of Thanksgiving as a unified national holiday. Not a woman to take "No" for an answer, Sarah Hale continued writing for four decades and five Presidencies. In October, 1863, President Lincoln, perhaps in response to an editorial Hale had published in the magazine she edited, addressed a Thanksgiving proclamation to "fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." As a class, read the letter Hale sent to Lincoln.
Use Sarah's story as inspiration for students to think about things they can urge others to do to make a difference in their communities. With students, brainstorm a list of ways that you can make the community better. Using the Letter Generator and its additional tips, have students write letters urging action, just as Sarah Hale did 140 years ago.
- Thanksgiving Timeline
This site provides information about how Thanksgiving has been celebrated through the ages-including President Truman "pardoning a turkey" in 1947 and the Native Americans' day of mourning in 1970.
- The First Thanksgiving
Use this interactive website to help elementary students explore what it was like to travel on the Mayflower and live in Plymouth. Scholastic also provides information about the Plymouth Colony.
- Thanksgiving Interactive: You are the Historian
This interactive site from Plimoth Plantation allows students to be historians as they investigate the first Thanksgiving.
Grades K – 2 | Lesson Plan | Unit
Students make personal connections between their lives and those of Pilgrim children by following the Pilgrims' move to the New World, their daily lives and struggles and their first Thanksgiving.
Grades 6 – 8 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
By exploring myths surrounding the Wampanoag, the pilgrims, and the "First Thanksgiving," this lesson asks students to think critically about commonly believed myths regarding the Wampanoag Indians in colonial America.