This year for the Thanksgiving storytime I decided to focus on the very first Thanksgiving and what it was like "in the olden days". So we talked about how the Pilgrims came here on a boat and they had to cut down trees, build their own houses and raise all their own food. No grocery stores back then. And we learned about how the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims grow more food the next year and they had a big feast at harvest time. I tried to include all this background information at the beginning because most of the books on the first Thanksgiving are written for older kids, with more words and more difficult vocabulary. That doesn't mean I don't use them anyway...
What is Thanksgiving by Harriet Ziefert
A simple lift-the-flap book where a mouse questions his parents about Thanksgiving. It covers both the first Thanksgiving (very briefly and simply) and the traditions we have now. It's not the best book, but I always like to start with a board book or lift-the-flap to get their attention right away and outline what we're talking about in the simplest terms.
This First Thanksgiving Day by
This Is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore
A longer, poetic book, this describes how the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, established their settlement, were devastated by disease and death, were taught by Squanto how to plant, etc. etc.. I liked all the information in this one, but it was too long for most of my groups, so I clipped a few pages together and shortened the story a bit. It still made an effective telling of the Thanksgiving story and reinforced what we had been talking about.
This week we made feather pens. I had been looking for an opportunity to do this craft. It was something that my parents would occasionally make for us and is so simple but fun for kids to play around with. All you need is a larger feather (we used wing and tail feathers from a turkey) and a simple ballpoint or stick pen. Tape is helpful too. Cut the tip off the feather and clean out anything you can from the hollow interior. Take the pen apart, just keeping the part that has the ink and the writing tip in it. Insert the pen into the feather and tape in place. This is a good use for pens that are just about used up since you can trim them better to fit inside the feather. I explained that this was NOT how they used to use feathers to write with in the "olden days" but it was a lot less messy. I had the tables covered with paper so the kids could test out their new quills.
This theme was used the week of November 22, 2010.
Next week we'll be doing superlatives: Big, Bigger Biggest!