It’s almost time for Thanksgiving, and we’ve got FREE instructional resources that educators at home and in schools can use to help students learn about the holiday, the history, and about being thankful, too! Here are just a few of PBS LearningMedia’s multimedia resources for grades Pre-K-12 (most include teacher support materials!).
Gratitude Turkey: Wonder and Wander | Young Explorers
Recommended for grades PreK-2
Abby Brown and her friend work on making a gratitude turkey to show all the things they are thankful for. Follow these steps to make your own gratitude turkey. More About This Resource: This segment from Iowa PBS’s digital first series, Wander and Wonder, helps kids to ask questions, observe their world and investigate with some kitchen science and crafts.
Learn to be Thankful | Dance to Success
Recommended for grades PreK-2
Gratitude is an important practice year-round. Whether used around Thanksgiving or at any other point in the year, the “Learn to be Thankful” video teaches students to see how much there is to be grateful for! Students are lead through a dance sequence in which they thank their bodies, the sky, ground, and their friends, and learn how important it is to express their appreciation. The supplementary materials ask students to reflect on other parts of their lives they are thankful for, and how it makes them feel to express their thanks. This resource comes from the collection Dance Your Way to SEL in the Classroom, designed to help elementary school students grow through dance! By following along with movement videos and engaging with provided supplementary activities, students will be able to work on all sorts of SEL skills such as sharing, listening to and accepting others, and expressing and understanding emotions, among others.
Thanksgiving | All About the Holidays
Recommended for grades 3-5
Thanksgiving is a day for us to remember what we’re thankful for. Uncover the history behind this holiday!
The First Official Thanksgiving
Recommended for grades 3-8
The First Official Thanksgiving offers evidence that the story of the Pilgrims having the First Thanksgiving is more myth than historical fact.
Sensitive: This resource contains material that may be sensitive for some students. Teachers should exercise discretion in evaluating whether this resource is suitable for their class.
Thanksgiving Through the Lens of Native Americans Today: Lesson Plan | PBS NewsHour
Recommended for grades 6-12
In this lesson plan, students will learn about the meaning of Thanksgiving through the lens of today’s Wampanoag people, the descendants of the Native American tribes who welcomed the Pilgrims at Plymouth nearly 400 years ago. Then students will examine current issues facing the Wampanoags, including the continued fight for their ancestral lands and the preservation of their native language. This resource comes from the collection PBS Newshour (formerly NewsHour Extra), which helps teachers and students identify the who, what, when, where, and why-it-matters of news stories. The collection Current Events Lessons which takes the best of the PBS NewsHour news program and pairs it with discussion questions, lesson plans, and stories developed specifically for students.
The Chemistry of Tender Turkey | NOVA scienceNOW
Recommended grades 6-12
In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, learn about the chemistry behind brining meat. Correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue explores how the process of brining can ensure a tender and moist cooked turkey. A raw turkey is mostly water, but the muscle fibers of the meat dry out as the meat is cooking. Guy Crosby of America’s Test Kitchen demonstrates how soaking a raw turkey in salt water adds moisture to the meat through the process of osmosis. Pogue participates in a taste test to identify samples of turkey cooked with and without brining.
Silvia’s Legacy | StoryCorps: The Great Thanksgiving Listen
Recommended for grades 6-12
Ellaraino experienced a common teenage reaction when she learned she’d have to leave Los Angeles to spend the summer in Louisiana with her great-grandmother, Silvia. Less common was Ellaraino’s realization that Silvia had lived through the Civil War, and had a lot to teach her great-granddaughter about the true meaning of freedom. This resources comes from the collection StoryCorps: The Great Thanksgiving Listen, a national education project that empowers high school students to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder over Thanksgiving weekend using the free StoryCorps App.
Interviews are entered into the StoryCorps Collection of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and the StoryCorps Archive, where they become an invaluable resource for future historians and provide families with a priceless piece of personal history.
In its pilot year of 2015, thousands of high schools from all 50 states participated and preserved over 50,500 individual recordings at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps will continue to work with educators around the country to preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans over a single holiday weekend.
The Natives and the English | Crash Course US History #3
Recommended for grades 9-12
John Green teaches you about relations between the early English colonists and the native people they encountered in the New World. In short, these relations were poor. As soon as they arrived, the English were in conflict with the native people. At Jamestown, Captain John Smith briefly managed to get the colony on pretty solid footing with the local tribes, but it didn’t last, and a long series of wars with the natives ensued. This pattern would continue in US history, with settlers pushing into native lands and pushing the inhabitants further west. In this episode, you’ll learn about Wahunsunacawh (who the English called Powhatan), his daughter Pocahontas, King Philip’s (aka Metacom) War, and the Mystic Massacre. By and large, the history of the Natives and the English was not a happy one, even Thanksgiving wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sensitive: This resource contains material that may be sensitive for some students. Teachers should exercise discretion in evaluating whether this resource is suitable for their class.
About the Crash Course collection: Since 2011, brothers John and Hank Green have pioneered digital education with their series Crash Course on YouTube.
From Science to Social Studies, Crash Course offers it all in quick-paced, imaginative videos aimed at learners of all ages. Explore the amazing collection here, with new resources and courses added constantly to broaden the reaches of the Crash Course experience.