Sometimes, it is difficult for teachers to incorporate national holidays into their lesson plans. After all, holidays generally become increasing personal, and when a holiday like Thanksgiving is celebrated in a high school classroom, it is difficult to make use of it in an educational manner. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can easily incorporate Thanksgiving into your lesson plans without boring your high school students:
1. Ask your students to write a play or story about Thanksgiving. Ask them to do this, allowing them to write what they know and use the knowledge that they already have about Thanksgiving. Their stories should be fairly short, about two or three pages long. Then, ask for volunteers to read their stories aloud. Compare the different students’ stories. How do they differ? How are they similar? Ask your class whether they think it is a result of culture.
2. After you have asked your students to write about Thanksgiving, read to them some verified information about Thanksgiving. For example, you can talk about the actual menu (what it consisted of) that the Pilgrims and Native Americans ate. Or, you can talk about the way Thanksgiving, as a national holiday, was treated through American history. Alternatively, you can talk about Thanksgiving’s importance as a cultural holiday.
3. Once you have given your students information about the holiday, they will now create a play that will show what Thanksgiving may have been like. They will have to research the information in groups. They will need to gather the correct names of the tribes and the group of Europeans involved. They will also need to prepare a script.
4. Before Thanksgiving, have one half of the class act out their play in front of the other half of the class. Ask the other half of the class to write down some comments. Then, they will switch roles. How do they think Thanksgiving has changed, as a holiday, throughout American history? Is it still relevant today, and why?
These activities are meant to stimulate your students’ minds about Thanksgiving, and about holidays in general. These ideas are meant to be a part of an educational lesson plan that incorporates the real world into the world of education. Hopefully, your students will appreciate what you are trying to teach them by having them engage in these activities. Not only that, but they are learning about a holiday that most of them have celebrated for many years.