Thanksgiving Activities for Middle Schoolers

 Thanksgiving activities for middle schoolers.

It can be difficult to find good resources and activities for middle schoolers. It’s easier for preschool, kindergarten. . . everything up through third or fourth grade.  But you start getting in to those middle years and it does become more of a challenge. Why do you think that is?

Thanksgiving Activities for Middle Schoolers

I’ve noticed that “Middle School” has a wide variety of interpretations for different people–usually based on our own public school experience. My first year of middle school was 5th grade, but for many it’s 7th-8th grade. Some people I’ve met were in middle school from 6th-8th, or 7th-9th.

Maybe this is one reason that “middle school” resources are more difficult to find?

Whatever the case, I do think it’s easier to divide the types of materials and resources that we’ll be looking for as homeschoolers into the following age groups: 

  • Pre-K: Early learning, building a foundation with basic concepts
  • 1st-4th: Elementary learning, establishing a framework of essential skills
  • 5th-8th: Middle/Intermediate learning, fleshing out logic and reasoning skills
  • 9th-12th: Higher learning, higher reasoning, independent thinking

With that in mind, I was searching for resources that would help kids in these middle years to research and dig deeper into the history of the Thanksgiving holiday than they may have before, while providing some age appropriate points for discussion and dissection. Now that all three of my children are 5th grade and above (!!) we’ll be doing a lot more of this sort of thing.

With quite a bit of scouring, I found a good list of Thanksgiving activities for middles schoolers that look worth pursuing. Some of these resources are better suited for kids on the 5th grade end of things, and some are better suited for kids closer to 8th grade. (And I have one of each.)

The First Thanksgiving

You Are The Historian, Plimoth.org – This interactive activity for early and middle grades puts your kids in charge of uncovering the history of the first Thanksgiving. The teacher’s guide includes instruction variations for early or middle grades.

Virtual Thanksgiving Study at Scholastic.com – Through videos, a virtual tour through the Mayflower, a peek at the Thanksgiving menu, and the opportunity to sign up for emails from a young Pilgrim girl and Wampanoag boy, kids can virtually walk through the world of the Mayflower pilgrims and native American Indians. **Note: I did notice that Scholastic.com now boasts common core alignment in their sidebar. I don’t usually share common core resources, but I’m including the link because of the videos and virtual tours, etc.**

Incredible Thanksgiving, IncredibleArt.org – This overview of the history of Thanksgiving is chock full of beautiful paintings and portraits. Check it out!

The Pilgrims

Mayflower History – Dig into the history of the mayflower, the pilgrims that traveled on it, and more. You can even follow the Mayflower on Twitter!

Pilgrims, The Mayflower Contract, and Thanksgiving – this lesson is geared for teaching literacy through history, in which the students will read, discuss, and dissect three texts discussing events surrounding the first Thanksgiving.

Research the Pilgrims, Scholastic.com – This page is full of information on the pilgrims for your kids to dig through and research.

The Indians

Four Wampanoag Folk Tales – read and discuss these four folk tales from the Wampanoags, the tribe that lived where the Mayflower landed.

We Shall Remain, PBS.org – This video series and corresponding teacher’s guides focus on the history of the native American Indian after the landing of the Mayflower. I usually watch PBS materials with a cautious eye, while knowing that if nothing else, it will present a different point of view to be discussed.

Thanksgiving Mourning – an opportunity for discussion about how native Americans might feel about our national holiday.

Other Thanksgiving Related Activities

The Lost Secrets of Thanksgiving – Watch this excellent video about the first Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Fill-IN – Fill in the blanks on this New York Times op-ed piece, then read the original op-ed article and discuss.

Thanksgiving Crossword Puzzle (Challenging) – Have fun filling in this Thanksgiving themed crossword puzzle, some of them are quite challenging indeed!

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Writing Assignment – a video writing prompt for a holiday tradition writing assignment.

Science of Thanksgiving – this page of Thanksgiving-themed middle school science lessons digs into things like tryptophan and pop up thermometers. The link for the page about Tryptophan is broken, but I found it.

Thanksgiving Books for Middle School

The Journal of Jasper Jonathan Pierce: A Pilgrim Boy – Grades 6-8, reading level 6.8, historical fiction. Also, check out this interview with the author, and this discussion guide, both from Scholastic.com.

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving – Grades 3-7, reading level 7.2, informational.

Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage – Grades 3-7, reading level 5.7, informational.

 * * *

I’m excited to find all these great resources. There should be plenty of material here for me to choose from with my 5th and 8th graders. I hope you’re able to find something here, too! Do you have anything good to add?

If  you’re looking for more Thanksgiving related materials, you might also check out these two previous posts:

Have fun studying!

Image Credit: Public Domain

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