I don’t know about you but teaching about thanksgiving can be stressful. As a social studies teacher, I know I have the responsibility to teach Thanksgiving responsibly. 

In this “new era” of teaching, the teaching community has become more socially aware of the westernized teaching curriculum. This is especially prevalent during culturally-sensitive holidays such as Columbus day (which should not be a holiday) and Thanksgiving. 

Historical figures that were celebrated when I was in school, have now come under much-needed scrutiny. Celebrating Columbus day for me was especially hard growing up because I knew my history. My family comes from the island that was ravaged by Columbus in ” 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue”.

For so many of our students, they do not know this history and rejoice when they have no school on Columbus day. This is why it is important to tell both sides of the story that for so long was one-sided. 

Sherry Posnick-Goodwin summed the steroypical nature that has engulfed thanksgiving by posing the following questions:

“Is Thanksgiving a time for students to wear paper vests, headdresses and feathers portraying Indians feasting with Pilgrims? Or is this a cartoonish stereotype that would never be tolerated if it depicted other ethnic minority groups?”

So, through away those paper vests, headdresses and fether activities. and let’s focus on activities that celebrate Native American Culture, friendship and to introduce the holidays as a way to teach gratitude.

1. Have your students write down what they are most grateful for.

2. Complete an activity that is focused on Native American culture rather than portraying pilgrims as saviors.

3. Play fact vs myth Thanks giving addition.

I personally like using one-pagers in my classroom. They’re a great way to get students involved and focus on thankfulness and gratitude, rather than sterotypes. 

I hope you have a great thanksgiving break


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