Well hello October, grab your morning coffee get ready for loads of November themed books and teaching ideas!
I love all of the fun traditions fall brings…apple picking, pumpkin patches, hayrides, and family walks bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets. I also love that it means the holiday season is quickly approaching, so we are back sharing 12 perfect read alouds for November.
Do you teach about Thanksgiving in the primary grades? Professionally I’ve always struggled with this topic because I’m never sure what approach to take. Do I teach what I believe most educators do and paint a rosy picture with stereotypical Pilgrims and Native Americans that is blend of fact and myth? Or do I try to help students understand the true story of Thanksgiving and the Plymouth plantation. regardless of the approach taken, most of the historical aspect is beyond kindergarten level comprehension. However I do believe the theme of Thanksgiving, being thankful, and friendship is one that is valuable in the primary classroom.
I think it is especially important with this topic to be purposeful with book selection so as not to perpetuate stereotypes especially Native American stereotypes. Trust me friends, this is REALLY difficult when it comes to the topic of Thanksgiving. One book that I have found that fits the Thanksgiving theme while focusing more on friendship, and how people lived long ago is The Littlest Pilgrim by Brandi Dougherty.
In this book Mini, a young Pilgrim girl wants more than anything to help her family. As she tries to help everyone in the village, students get a glimpse of the chores that typical Pilgrims would likely do on a daily basis: stacking wood, sewing, baking, hunting, gathering berries, and fishing. Mini is sad that she isn’t able to help and goes to pick berries when she meets a Native American girl and shares with her. She makes a friend in the end and is happy that she isn’t too little to make a new friend.
I like using this story for making connections because it helps students to see Pilgrims and Native Americans as not so different from themselves. I think this sets students up to identify with these groups of people and resist stereotypes to some degree in their future learning.
This story really doesn’t depict Native Americans much, except for Mini’s new friend at the very end of the story, so if you are looking for great books for students that don’t perpetuate the Native American stereotype here are a few that I have found:
The People Shall Continue by Simon Ortiz
First Americans Series by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
Pueblo Boy: Growing Up In Two Worlds by Marcia Keegan
Children of Clay by Rina Swentzell
Want to try out this activity? You can grab the printables for FREE here!
It includes 3 levels of responses for K, 1st and 2nd grade.
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But wait, that’s not all! Each month, the Books Teachers Love Crew is giving away 4 of the books that we blogged about, and YOU get to choose the books you want! So scope out all 12 blog posts below, pick your favorites, and enter to win!