Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving: Hardship, Cooperation, & Gratitude

Dear Teaching Friends,

I've been thinking a lot this week about how Thanksgiving will be very different this year for those who are dealing with the results of Hurricane Sandy. I find myself so uplifted by many of the survivors' stories, both those from during the storm and after. They are stories of human triumph, of individuals reaching out to answer the needs of strangers, and of the mercy of God.

This is real life.  These people have been through devastation and many will continue to deal with years of hardship. They are now experiencing an outpouring of generosity from others who are coming alongside them with support, like food, clothing, and shelter, but who are also working cooperatively side-by-side to rebuild. Many express their gratitude, not just for the help they are receiving or for the opportunity to help those less fortunate, but for the fact that they survived the storm.

How closely this parallels the story of the first Thanksgiving! The Pilgrims went through the terrible hardships of illness, hunger, and an extreme winter. Their survival came largely through the support, cooperation, and compassion of the Wampanoag people. They came together to celebrate with a feast to express their gratitude to God for bringing them through the winter. 

Yes, our understanding of other facets of this experience may have changed somewhat in recent years, but the basic concepts of hardship, cooperation, and gratitude endure.

Could these themes of hardship, cooperation, and gratitude be used to deepen your students' understanding of Thanksgiving? Perhaps drawing connections to current happenings in our world or right in your own community can be a way to help your students better understand the Pilgrims' experience.

Now, beyond these deep thoughts, those of you who are regular readers know that I always try to squeeze in some cross-curricular teaching and a freebie for you! "Hardship", "Cooperation", and "Gratitude" are great Tier 2 vocabulary, so here's a making words activity to reinforce the words and remind your students of the concepts.

If you are searching for more Thanksgiving and fall activities for your class, click to visit my Autumn Learning Pinterest board!

Happy Teaching!


  1. This is a fantastic activity packet, Linda. Love all the free activities you share on TBA.
    LMN Tree

  2. I'll use this in conjunction with Social Studies and Religion classes. I like to hang these on my interactive bulletin board for my kids to work on while waiting in line to switch classes. Thanks for sharing.

    1. That's a great way to use what could be wasted time, Beti! Thanks for sharing your idea!


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