Friday, November 13, 2009

The Meaning of Thanksgiving for the Montessori Classroom: Making Thanksgiving Come Alive with Scholastic

Children must experience social life through living, through experience. ~ Maria Montessori, The Child, Society and the World
NAMC montessori classroom thanksgiving come alive scholastic young pilgrim girl
I was teaching in a lower elementary Montessori environment two years ago. As Thanksgiving approached, I found myself wanting to do some impressionistic lessons that would really capture the imagination of my Montessori students while imparting the understanding of the first Thanksgiving and why we still celebrate it. I spent a few days wondering how I could do this when I received an email from Scholastic Inc. asking if I wanted to receive letters from pilgrim and Native American children from the time of the first Thanksgiving. I quickly signed up, thinking that this might be just the solution to my quest.

The Meaning of Thanksgiving for the Montessori Classroom: Making Thanksgiving Come Alive with Scholastic

When the first letter arrived in my inbox, I printed it off and mounted it on a piece of brown construction paper. I invited the students to circle and proceeded to explain to them that I had a very important document that I wanted to share with them.
NAMC montessori classroom thanksgiving come alive scholastic mayflower stamp
I told them that I had received a letter from a girl about their age who had traveled on the Mayflower. Their eyes grew wide with excitement and anticipation. I asked if they wanted me to read it and they readily agreed and listened with rapt attention. When I finished, we had a short discussion about the contents of the letter. I explained that I would be getting more letters as Thanksgiving approached. I placed the letters in our cultural area so the students could revisit them as the desired.

Scholastic has put together a wonderful interactive Thanksgiving unit for teachers and students for kindergarten through high school. Not only will they email you the above-mentioned letters, but there are interactive lessons about the Mayflower, Daily Life, and the Thanksgiving feast. There are slide shows, audio files, and even a webquest that students can participate in online. There is a timeline of the pilgrims as well as a timeline of Thanksgiving. There is an easy to follow teacher’s guide that gives ideas on how to use the material. There are recommendations for Thanksgiving-themed books for your classroom library. This year they have included reader’s theater presentations as well as additional research on Plymouth Colony, the Colonial Period, and a link for visiting Plimoth Plantation. There will even be a live chat with Plimoth Plantation on Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 11 am and 2 pm EST.

I appreciate Scholastic making history come alive for my Montessori students. My students could readily identify with the children that were portrayed through the letters and activities. They especially enjoyed learning about what it was like to grow up as a Native American or pilgrim child. Many reenactments were played out on the playground during our studies of the first Thanksgiving. I know it left a lasting impression on my young students, which it was I was hoping for all along.

For more information or to sign up to receive the Thanksgiving letters, please visit The NAMC cultural manuals are rich with information and activities on this and other cultural themes and celebrations around the world: 3-6 Culture & Science, 6-9 Cultural Geography and 9-12 Cultural Geography.

We invite you to visit a previous Thanksgiving blog: Celebrating Thanksgiving with Montessori Activities.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, November 13, 2009.


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