Thanksgiving in Early Childhood: An Immersion Experience

The Early Childhood team celebrated Thanksgiving with a multi-sensory learning day, on Friday, November 16, that invited students to experience a variety of elements related to the Wampanoag Indians’ and Pilgrims’ first harvest celebration. Each classroom was transformed into a work center that focused on a unique aspect of what we now call the first Thanksgiving. Groups of students were created across classes so students could enjoy working with a variety of friends and learn from one another in new ways. The event included developmentally appropriate, hands-on activities that encouraged a deep and lasting sense of how these people of long ago lived, worked, played and celebrated their bountiful harvest together. 

The Thanksgiving Immersion Day centers included "Corn Husk Explorations" with Ms. Moran and Ms. Craig. In this center, the students discussed  importance of not wasting any part of what the Indians and Pilgrims worked so hard to grow. They brainstormed different ideas about how corn husks could be used and then viewed pictures of actual uses. Then the students then explored and created for themselves, making dolls, braiding the husks, and burlap to try to sew a pillow to stuff with husks. The goal of this center was to help the students to understand what it means to utilize all parts of something and appreciate the challenges of working with different materials.

The next center, "Corn: A Staple Crop" with Ms. Bryant and Ms. Mindy gave the students the opportunity to explore one of the staples of many meals during the time of Thanksgiving throughout history: Corn! From learning how to manipulate corn into various foods to cooking around the campfire, the children experienced what it was like to cook various corn dishes as Native Americans once did.

"Growing Corn: A gift from the Indians to the Pilgrims" with Mrs. Watson and Mrs. Oglesbee taught the students how the Wampanoag Indians grew their corn. Students heard the story of the Three Sisters. They then experienced planting corn with fish, peeling and sampling green beans, dissecting winter squash, creating mounds of soil for the Three Sisters, and creating a clam shell rake.

Finally, the "Popcorn - an Ancient Tradition" station with Ms. Sterling and Ms. Critcher introduced students to one of the oldest types of corn: popcorn! Did you know that during one of Columbus' first encounters with the Native Americans, it has been said he saw them selling popcorn? Popcorn is an historic American staple. The children investigated both popped popcorn and kernels through a variety of fine motor and sensory activities, sing songs about popcorn and even pop and enjoy a popcorn treat, all while describing it through their senses!

The Early Childhood Thanksgiving Immersion day provided hands-on learning for Indian Creek's youngest students.