“Turkey Day” is nigh upon us. What does the Thanksgiving holiday mean to you? For some, it means a day or two off work. For parents of college freshman students, it means welcoming their teens home for their first holiday (usually laden with bags of laundry!). Many churchgoers enjoy special services and folding tables laden with baked beans and rainbow JELL-O. Whatever your bent, homeschoolers can do what they do best this Thanksgiving holiday: learn and live what they learn. So, here are some tips for Thanksgiving homeschooling that can be adapted to your child’s grade level and personality style.
History and politics
Learning the history of an American tradition can add context and meaning to a celebration.
- Most, if not all, presidents make public proclamations to inspire gratitude for the blessings of freedom. Reading them can give insight into the culture of the time. Discuss what you’ve learned from some of the proclamations and how the times were similar to, or different from, today.
- When did the Thanksgiving holiday become an official holiday? Read what happened when Elias Boudinot suggested the first Thanksgiving proclamation. You can discuss the pros and cons presented to Congress and how they relate to the political issues of today, such as separation of church and state. Whose side are you on, and why?
- The President of the United States has the power to pardon citizens condemned to prison or worse. Who is more condemned on Thanksgiving than the innocent turkey? Yes, presidents through the years have pardoned these toms as a show of avian clemency and good will. I’m sure the turkeys are thankful!
Science and Home Economics (Cooking!)
Thanksgiving is all about…food! So, dive into some home economics lessons before you tackle the mashed potatoes this year.
- What do you eat at Thanksgiving? The meal considered most traditional is roast turkey, gravy, potatoes, corn, beans, and maybe some other vegetables. Do you think that is what the Pilgrims and Native Americans ate? You can check out this website to go back in time to see what most likely filled the first Thanksgiving table.
- Get your students in the kitchen with you. Maybe they don’t want to try the traditional recipes. So, here are dozens of ideas and alternatives and hints for a special Thanksgiving meal.
- Turkeys aren’t the only things that are stuffed at Thanksgiving dinner — How do you feel after eating all that yummy stuff? Take a look at the nutritional value of some of the items you eat to see how they build up your body. Will this affect how much you eat? It’s only once a year . . .
This Thanksgiving, explore some Turkey Day tall tales and talk with these language inspired ideas.
- Do you know who Benjamin Franklin was? Some say that if it were up to him, our national emblem would look a little more, shall we say, Thanksgiving-like! Find out more at Smithsonian.com!
- Do you know what a Meleagris gallopavo is? Here is an opportunity to learn a little science as well as foreign languages. Do an Internet search for this scientific term. You can also learn more facts about turkeys, including what they are called in other cultures, and start some fun dinner conversations, at HuffPost.
Fun and games
Thanksgiving is a great time to build family memories that go beyond the table. So, enough sitting and studying! Let’s get to some action!
- Speaking of sitting, one American Thanksgiving tradition is stuffing, sitting, and settling into sports on TV. What could those poor Pilgrims and Native Americans do without TV? Turns out they had plenty of outdoor fun! Here are four old-fashioned games that Pilgrim and Wampanoag children entertained themselves with.
- Since there were no grocery stores, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag had to hunt for their food. Need something to get the kids active (and out of the way) after dinner? Send them on this outdoor scavenger hunt!
Holidays are all about family time and creativity. So, enjoy a few crafts in between touchdowns or trips to the buffet.
- Did you know turkeys have a LOT of different names? You can find some of them here, then explore some Native American legends about turkeys. Would you like to have YOUR name on a turkey? Here is a fun craft for kiddos that will help them spell their name.
- Keeping little hands and minds busy during meal prep and setup is easy with this collection of family-oriented crafts that they can make with family members and friends while feeling a part of the preparations.
Of course, Thanksgiving is about expressing thanks for the blessings of faith, friends, family, finery, and food. It can also be a time for learning in a way that suits your children and lifestyle. If you are thankful for our suggestions and would even like to add your own, leave a comment below! We are thankful for you, too!