As with The Best Online Resources About Christopher Columbus, many of the online resources accessible to English Language Learners tell the usual and uncritical story of Europeans and Native Americans. So the first part of this post those accessible links, while the second part lists online resources that I’ve found helpful to me in developing classroom lessons that try to demonstrate a Native American perspective.
Here are my picks for The Best Sites To Learn & Teach About Thanksgiving (not in a strict order of preference, but with the ones I think that are most accessible listed near the top):
Brainpop and Brainpop Jr. have two good Thanksgiving movies that provide closed-captioning. Unfortunately, both require registration — either as a free trial or as a paid subscription. Brainpop is only one of two sites on the entire Web that I think are worth paying for but, as I mentioned, you can also get a free trial. These are the only two sites on this list that are not free. Of course, I think they’re the best, too.
Scholastic has a good feature on The First Thanksgiving that provides audio support to the text and is very engaging.
Pilgrim Village is a simple E-Book, also from Scholastic, that provides audio support for the text.
What Really Happened At Thanksgiving? is an interactive from Plimoth Village where players become investigative “historians.”
EL Civics has an ESL Thanksgiving Lesson that provides a good overview of the holiday in an accessible way.
Students can send Thanksgiving E-Cards and have links to them posted on teacher or student websites/blogs. The best ones are from Blue Mountain because they appear to host the card indefinitely on their sites.
The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving is a very accessible “web adventure” where students have to answer questions along the way.
Here’s an online Thanksgiving crossword puzzle from the Internet TESL Journal.
Thanksgiving in the USA and The First Thanksgiving in America from “Many Things,” the excellent resource for ESL/EFL activities. They are both multiple-choice “Fill-in-the-blank” exercises connected to Voice of America broadcasts, but very useful standing alone, too.
Elizabeth Barnwell has created a nice series of online flashcards about Thanksgiving. The language is accessible, and a good number have images, too.
Time Magazine also has a slideshow on Black Friday called Shop Till You Drop.
Here is a New York Times slideshow about the Macy’s Day Parade.
Here’s a related slideshow from the Telegraph newspaper in the UK called What really Happens To The Turkey The President Pardons At Thanksgiving.
Turkey Escape is the latest addition (tongue-in-cheek) to this list. As regular readers of this blog know, I believe using online video games with walkthroughs (the instructions on how to win the game) are good language-development tools for English Language Learners. You can read more about how I use them in this article. In “Turkey Escape” players get to develop vocabulary, reading skills — plus rescue a turkey from being served as the main course at a Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s the Walkthrough.
I’m going to add three more resources to this list. The caveat is that if you are going to use the most obvious and most accessible one, I believe it’s critical that at least one of the other two is also used.
The most visible engaging and accessible to English Language Learners is a new “talking story” with animation from The Weekly Reader called The Story of Squanto. It’s engaging and well-done. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t make any attempt at communicating anything other than the whitewashed version of the story.
To leave out even a mention of his life as a slave and the destruction of his people seems pretty insulting to Native Americans and to the student audience of the story. Jeez, I know Brainpop gets criticized, but even their Thanksgiving movie refers to the damage caused to Native Americans.
But I do think the Weekly Reader movie could be an excellent learning opportunity for students, one that I use with students.
It could be a great lesson combining that movie with a lesson from Squanto Worksheet from EL Civics, along with questions like: What are the differences between the stories? Why do you think they are different? Are there examples in your own life or culture where the “public” story is different from what really happened?
I’ve also found two resources helpful in developing lessons that give a little more of a critical perspective to Thanksgiving. One is from Education World and is called Are You Teaching The Real Story of Thanksgiving? The other is an older blog post from Education Week titled Rethinking Thanksgiving (the post itself is thought-provoking, though the link within it is no longer active).
Of course, the most helpful resource is a book you can buy from Rethinking Schools (which is on The Best Teacher Resource Sites For Social Justice Issues). It’s called Rethinking Columbus.
Rethinking Schools also published a good article, Rethinking Thanksgiving, that some lessons that include critical thinking.
Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving is a brand-new online activity by Renee Manfroid.
US presidents and Thanksgiving turkeys is a Guardian slideshow.
The Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Thanksgiving is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.
Myth and Truth: The “First Thanksgiving” seems like a nice lesson plan. It’s from Read Write Think.
What Really Happened? Comparing Stories of the First Thanksgiving is a great feature from The New York Times Learning Network. It has links to a lot of useful resources.
Here are some interactive online Thanksgiving quizzes that I’m adding to this list:
The BBC has a quiz, too.
What really happens to the turkey that the president pardons at Thanksgiving is a Telegraph slideshow.
Slate has a fun slideshow titled “Happy Thanksgiving!”
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Here’s a slideshow from the LA Times showing how and why it is so crazy.
Ten Thanksgiving Myths Dispelled is a useful infographic.
Reader Photos: The Thanksgiving Countdown comes from The New York Times.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade 2010 is a slideshow from The Guardian.
The Telegraph has a slideshow on the Parade, also.
Thanksgiving from the home front to the war zone is a slideshow from The Los Angeles Times.
Black Friday shoppers hit the stores is another LA Times slideshow.
10 Things You Didn’t (Need to) Know About Turkeys comes from TIME Magazine.
Top 10 Feasts is a slideshow from TIME.
Why I’m Not Thankful For Thanksgiving is the title of a Rethinking Schools article written by a Native American.
“Rethinking Thanksgiving: Myths & Misgivings” is also from Rethinking Schools.
Tracing The History Of The Pilgrims is a New York Times slideshow.
Macy’s shows off new balloons for parade is a CNN video.
Thanksgiving In Space is another CNN video.
Waiting hours for free Thanksgiving turkeys is a CBS News video and article.
Thanksgiving for the troops is a CBS News slideshow.
5 myths about Thanksgiving is from The Washington Post.
Free bird: Thanksgiving turkey pardons is a slideshow from The Mother Nature Network.
A Visual History of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is a TIME slideshow.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: A Look Back is a slideshow from ABC News.
Thanksgiving during tough times is a CBS News slideshow.
Classic Thanksgivings is a Newsweek slideshow.
Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Thanksgiving is a slideshow from TIME.
In Pictures: Thanksgiving in America is from The BBC.
Top 10 Thanksgiving Movie Scenes is a great slideshow, with video clips, from TIME.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a NY Times slideshow.
Black Friday is a TIME slideshow.
This new viral hit “It’s Thanksgiving” by Nicole Westbrook could be a fun song to play and sing with English Language Learners. It’s pretty fast, but students could just focus on certain lines. The song highlights other holidays, too, which is a nice bonus. It’s not like there are that many pop songs about Turkey Day.
Thinking Critically About Food in a Season of Plenty is from The New York Times Learning Network.
What Was on the Menu at the First Thanksgiving? is from Smithsonian Magazine.
Here are videos of President Obama pardoning turkeys.
A Visual History of Presidents Petting Turkeys is from The Atlantic.
The Perfect Thanksgiving Music, Sung by One Human … and 300 Turkeys is also from The Atlantic.
The 8 most awkward Thanksgiving dinner scenes in movie history is from The Week.
A Thanksgiving Feast For The Ears And Eyes is from NPR.
Five myths about the Pilgrims is from The Washington Post.
Thanksgiving By The Numbers is an infographic from The History Channel. I’ve embedded below, but I don’t think it will come on an RSS Reader:
Provided by Nationwide Bank
Thanksgiving created by ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ author — not the Pilgrims is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.
Thanksgiving, or how to eat American politics:The democratic ideals behind turkey, pie, and the rest of our holiday feast is a great interactive at The Boston Globe. It shows how each traditional food got its start on Thanksgiving.
Here’s an impressive Thanksgiving chart that’s based on an even more impressive interactive:
This Google Doodle would be a great video to show English Language Learners and have them describe what happens in it:
Abraham Lincoln, father of the Thanksgiving holiday is from USA Today.
The New York Times has published a great interactive called “The United States Of Thanksgiving.”
It shows a recipe (and an image) representative of the culture of each state for a dish prepared there for the holiday.
Food is the topic of my New York Times Learning Network post for English Language Learners, and it’s chock full of some pretty unique lessons. In addition, it discusses how to apply Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow” to those lessons and, in fact, to just about any other lesson, too.
What was actually in the first Thanksgiving dinner? is a video from The Guardian.
When Thanksgiving Was Weird is from NPR.
Thanksgiving: A Very Brief Political History is from NPR.
American Indian Perspectives On Thanksgiving is from the National Museum of the American Indian.
Thanksgiving Mourning is a lesson from Teaching Tolerance.
The Thanksgiving Recipes Googled in Every State is a great interactive from The New York Times.
Look How Much Bigger Thanksgiving Turkeys Are Today Than in the 1930s is from Mother Jones.
6 Science Experiments You Can Do With Thanksgiving Foods is from We Are Teachers.
26 charts and maps to be thankful for is from Vox.
Why we celebrate Thanksgiving every year. It isn’t what you think. is from The Washington Post.
Map: Where your Thanksgiving dinner comes from is also from The Washington Post.
Seven global trends to be really, really thankful for is from The Wash. Post.
Thanksgiving Used to Look a Lot Like Halloween, Except More Racist is from The Atlantic.
Where Did You Thanksgiving Dinner come from? is a nice interactive.
Songs For Stuffing: A Thanksgiving Mix is from NPR.
Why Thanksgiving Is A ‘National Day Of Mourning’ For Some Americans is from The Huffington Post.
Rethinking the Way We Teach Thanksgiving is the headline of a New York Times “Room For Debate” feature.
It shares five different perspectives, primarily from educators.
Here’s an excerpt from the piece written by Yatibaey Evans of the National Indian Education Association:
Essay: My Muslim-American Thanksgiving is from NBC News.
How To Talk To Kids About Thanksgiving is from NPR.
Extraterrestrial Turkey: Here’s How Astronauts Spend Thanksgiving is from NBC News.
Thanksgiving, With or Without Turkey is from The New York Times.
Here’s What Your Part Of America Eats On Thanksgiving is from Five Thirty Eight.
Why Americans Call Turkey ‘Turkey’ is from The Atlantic.
How To Talk To Kids About Thanksgiving is from NPR.
Thanksgiving, a Celebration of Inequality is from The Atlantic.
Thanksgiving Photos From the Past Century is from The Atlantic.
The Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner Menu is from Five Thirty-Eight.
Why Thanksgiving Is A ‘National Day Of Mourning’ For Some Americans is from The Huffington Post.
— AmericanIndianMuseum (@SmithsonianNMAI) November 24, 2016
Thanksgiving Day parade in New York – in pictures is from The Guardian.
Celebrating Thanksgiving across the country and overseas is a photo gallery from The Washington Post.
— NYT Learning Network (@NYTimesLearning) November 22, 2016
ELL Teacher Carol Salva has some good lesson ideas.
Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong is from The New York Times.
What America Celebrates on Thanksgiving is from The New York Times.
Lesson plan: Thanksgiving through the lens of Native Americans today is from The PBS News Hour.
Teaching Thanksgiving in a Socially Responsible Way is from Teaching Tolerance.
A Thanksgiving Lesson Plan Booklet from a Native American Perspective is from Oklahoma City Public Schools.
What will be on your Thanksgiving plate? It depends on where you’ll be is an interactive from The L.A. Times.
Where does your Thanksgiving dinner come from? is a neat interactive map.
Everyone’s history matters: The Wampanoag Indian Thanksgiving story deserves to be known is from The Smithsonian.
Thanksgiving for Native Americans: Four Voices on a Complicated Holiday https://t.co/Dx344UH5ia
— Arlene Dávila (@arlenedavila1) November 23, 2017
From the StoryCorps App: three immigrants share their stories about their first Thanksgivings in the United States, and the traditions they’ve created with their families. https://t.co/Rl57GhdiGq pic.twitter.com/TMGf1oZ7CL
— StoryCorps (@StoryCorps) November 23, 2017
Exactly. No one likes to see the pilgrims this way but they were in fact the first to arrive to this land filled with multiple indigenous tribes (so it already was a multicultural nation) and to arrive w/o permission. No one likes to call them the first “illegal aliens”. MORE pic.twitter.com/UdmLslopiu
— Maria Hinojosa (@Maria_Hinojosa) November 23, 2017
— NatGeo Education (@NatGeoEducation) November 23, 2017
— NASA (@NASA) November 23, 2017
Rethink Thanksgiving. https://t.co/wcrjbbSTxk
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) November 23, 2017
Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools is by Lindsey Passenger Wieck.
Thanksgiving 2018 is from Teaching Tolerance.
Dinosaurs, gods and marshmallows: A Thanksgiving science quiz is from The Washington Post.
Teaching and Learning About Thanksgiving: Things to Read, Write, Analyze, Cook and Consider is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Making Indian headdresses in school is a terrible way to teach kids about Thanksgiving is from The Washington Post.
3 ways to expand Native American curriculum beyond Thanksgiving myths is from Education Dive.
Thanksgiving 2019 is from Teaching Tolerance.
Teachers and librarians: are you looking for a lesson plan that asks students to think critically about Thanksgiving?
Dr. Natalie Martinez (Laguna Pueblo) created one. Take a look! https://t.co/vFBLND1Chv
— Dr. Debbie Reese (tribally enrolled, Nambé Pueblo) (@debreese) November 6, 2019
Celebrating Native American Heritage Month: Dos and Don’ts is from Teen Vogue.
We asked service members, veterans and civilians who have observed Thanksgiving in a conflict zone to share their photographs and memories. Their stories are vast and varied, like combat service itself, and reflect the range of experiences while deployed.https://t.co/noVMF6ZDrL
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 19, 2019
Teaching Thanksgiving is from NPR.
The Year Abraham Lincoln Declared Thanksgiving is from Slate.
Lesson plan: After helping Pilgrims, today’s Wampanoags fight for their ancestral lands is from The PBS NewsHour.
The Myths of the Thanksgiving Story and the Lasting Damage They Imbue is from Smithsonian Magazine.
A family learns to tell a new kind of Thanksgiving story is from The L.A. Times.
Thanksgiving Belongs To The Wampanoag Tribe is from The Atlantic.
How NOT to teach Thanksgiving is from The Washington Post.
How 7 immigrant families transform the Thanksgiving turkey with the flavors of their homelands is from The Washington Post.
The Invention of Thanksgiving is from The New Yorker.
How the fourth Thursday in November officially became Thanksgiving is from The Washington Post.
The Horrible History of Thanksgiving is from The NY Times.
Feeling Conflicted on Thanksgiving is from The NY Times.
What can we do instead of dressing up kids (and ourselves 😣) as pilgrims and “Indians”? https://t.co/aTLBRnadIJ
— Lauryn Mascareñaz (@laurynmaria) November 27, 2019
Today my family is gathering on Choctaw land.
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) November 28, 2019
What Does Thanksgiving Mean to You? is from The NY Times Learning Network.
As this essay continues to make the rounds, I’m struck by the fact that those most bothered by it seem to be most bothered by me — the immigrant in me — that I speak well, that I write well, that I have a platform & I had the nerve to use it in this way. https://t.co/YzCit71KAp
— Esmeralda Bermudez (@LATBermudez) November 29, 2019
Feel free to offer additional suggestions.
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