One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that it makes it possible for families to really dive into the subjects that they love. This can be especially true during the holidays, when we can take the time to explore the origin of certain customs and traditions. Autumn is typically a time when homeschool families enjoy delving into the story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. Fortunately, there are an abundance of great resources for learning about the first Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims who celebrated it that are easily accessible to the homeschool family. If you are thinking of completing a homeschool unit study on the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, this guide can help!
Books – There are many children’s books out there on the subject of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving feast. These books often tell about the passengers of the Mayflower, and the voyage to the New World. Some even include information about the lives of the Pilgrims during their stay in Holland, and others focus on important members of the Pilgrim group, such as William Bradford. For homeschool students ages 7 and older, consider the Dear America title, A Journey to the New World, The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple. If your homeschooling students cannot yet read on this level, take the time to read it aloud to them. It will take several days, but this book tells the Pilgrim story on a children’s level better than most. Your public library may have several copies.
Movies – A fantastic addition to your homeschool unit study of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, is the History Channel’s Desperate Crossing, The Untold Story of the Mayflower.This film features actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was filmed on location in Europe and on the actual Plimoth Plantation. The portrayal is accurate, as information is taken directly from written journals left behind by members of the Plimoth Plantation. If you first read the Dear America book suggested above, this film will be easy for your homeschoolers to follow along with, as they will already be familiar with many of the historical figures portrayed in the movie. Actual members of the Massachusetts Wampanoag tribe are featured as well. All in all, you likely will not find a better movie to accompany what you have read in your Pilgrims unit study. Check your library for a copy, as many city libraries carry it.
Websites – There are several websites devoted to providing historical information about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, and any of these would likely be useful in your homeschool unit study. Don’t forget to check out the website of the Plimoth Plantation, which is a working museum today. Additionally, the website of the Mayflower Society contains information about the Pilgrims, as well as a page devoted entirely to information about the kids of the Plimoth Plantation.
Don’t stop there! If your homeschool unit study of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving was a hit, add to it! Search online for coloring pages, recipes, and photos. You can even branch off and study more about the Wampanoag tribe. Whatever you decide, your homeschool unit study of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is likely to be a family favorite.