Rediscovering Thanksgiving

Students learn about the Pilgrims and the first Massachusetts colonies, including why the Pilgrims came to the New World, their relationship with the Native peoples, and the truth behind the first Thanksgiving. 

Unit Summary

This unit challenges students to view history with a critical lens, and to notice how there is always more than one side to a story. The unit begins with the Mayflower and helps students develop an understanding of why so many colonists decided to leave England and travel to the New World. Students will explore the hardships faced by the colonists, both on the ship and once they arrive in the New World, and how the colonists persevered and relied on the geography and environment to meet their needs. Students will then learn about the Wampanoag, the people who were on the land before the Pilgrims arrived. They will learn about what the Wampanoag valued, how they viewed the Pilgrims, and how the arrival of explorers and settlers negatively influenced their tribe. Then students will be pushed to analyze what really happened at the first Thanksgiving, and whose story is being told. Students will realize that the traditional story of the first Thanksgiving contains many myths that don't accurately reflect the Wampanoag and what really happened in 1621. 

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • Why did the Pilgrims leave England? What challenges did they face when they reached the "New World"? 
  • Who were the first people to live in present day New England? How were their lives and communities impacted by the Europeans? 
  • What parts of the Thanksgiving story are true? What parts are myths? 
  • Why is it important to look at history from multiple perspectives? 

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

accurate alliance ally bitter bustling captive colonization colony custom damp delight epidemic establish fearsome grateful grim ill influential linger motive pleasant pledge sheltered shallow sorrow stench temper thievery treaty wary will

Root/Affix

-ance -al -ful -some -tion

Lesson Map

1

  • “The English Colonies”

    RI.3.3

Explain what motivated the settlement and colonization of the New World and what challenges the explorers faced. 

2

  • Pilgrims pp. 13 – 23

    RI.3.3

Describe the conditions on the Mayflower and why so many people decided to take the journey. 

3

  • “Pilgrim Letter 1”

    RI.3.3

Describe Lizzy's experiences on the Mayflower and the challenges she faced. 

4

Writing

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences.

5

Writing

  • All unit texts

    RI.3.3

    L.3.1

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Describe what life was like on the Mayflower by writing a variety of compound sentences. 

6

  • Pilgrims pp. 25 – 34

    RI.3.3

Explain why the pilgrims were not satisfied with Cape Cod and why they were satisfied with Plymouth. 

7

  • “Pilgrim Letter 2”

    RI.3.3

Explain what readers learn from Lizzy about what life was like in the "New World". 

8Essential Task

2 days

Writing

  • All unit texts

    RI.3.3

    W.3.2

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Write a few sentences describing the challenges and rewards of being in the New World. 

9

  • Pilgrims pp. 35 – 49

    RI.3.3

Describe who the Wampanoag were and what they valued. 

10

  • The Wampanoag pp. 23 – 31

    RI.3.3

Describe key aspects of Wampanoag culture. 

11

  • “Wampanoag Letter 1”

  • “Wampanoag Letter 2”

    RI.3.3

Analyze how the Wampanoag viewed the Pilgrims and explain why. 

12

  • The Wampanoag pp. 6 – 16

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Explain how the arrival of European explorers impacted the Wampanoag. 

13

  • Squanto's Journey

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Explain why Squanto chose to help the Pilgrims. 

14

Writing

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.

15

  • Pilgrims pp. 51 – 61

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Analyze what information is missing about the Wampanoag. 

16Essential Task

  • The Wampanoag pp. 18 – 21

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Describe the Wampanoag's relationship with the Pilgrims. 

17Essential Task

Discussion

    RI.3.3

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

Discuss unit essential question using information from multiple texts and sources. 

18

Writing

    RI.3.3

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

Draft a paragraph describing what it was like to be a Wampanoag in 1621.

19

  • Pilgrims pp. 70 – 83

    RI.3.3

Analyze an account of the First Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

20

  • Thanksgiving Story pp. 13 – 28 — (start at The New Land)

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Analzye an account of the first Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

21

  • 1621 pp. 27 – 39

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Analyze an account of the first Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

22

  • 1621 pp. 37 – 43

    RI.3.3

Analyze an account of the first Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

23Essential Task

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    RI.3.9

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

Discuss unit essential questions using information from multiple texts and sources. 

24

5 days

Informative Writing

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

    L.3.2.a

Students will research, draft, illustrate, and create books to teach younger students about the the real story of the First Thanksgiving. 

25

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.1.f — Ensure subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.

  • L.3.1.h — Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

  • L.3.1.i — Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.3.2.a — Capitalize appropriate words in titles.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.3.3 — Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • RI.3.9 — Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.3.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

  • SL.3.1.d — Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.3.6 — Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • W.3.2.a — Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.3.7 — Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

  • W.3.8 — Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Spiral Standards

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L.3.1

L.3.2

L.3.2.a

L.3.2.e

L.3.2.f

L.3.2.g

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

L.3.6

RF.3.3

RF.3.4

RI.3.1

RI.3.10

RI.3.4

RI.3.5

RI.3.7

SL.3.1

SL.3.4

SL.3.5

SL.3.6

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5

W.3.6