Native American Thanksgiving Story: Activities for First Grade

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​​​​​​​Combine reading comprehension and Native American history with these activities for first grade, perfect for Thanksgiving, Native American Heritage Month, or Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Explore the story of the first Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective, with a charming storybook that honors Native peoples and encourages a more inclusive America.

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Introducing Keepunumuk: for First Graders

This lesson centers around the beautiful picture book of Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story, a children's book that tells the tale of Maple and Quill, from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, discovering the story of Weeâchumun (corn) and what really happened at the first Thanksgiving. This charming storybook explores the Thanksgiving story from an American Indian perspective, providing a more inclusive approach to teaching about Thanksgiving and an opportunity to learn about Native American culture.

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate Native American crafts into your lessons on the first Thanksgiving, try this lovely Thanksgiving craft activity which also follows the Keepunumuk storybook, or find out how to make corn husk dolls with your class.

What's Inside:

  • Printable, interactive lesson plan
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Ideas for questions and follow-up activities

Lesson details:

  • Materials needed: The book Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story, paper, and crayons
  • Read Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story to the class. Before you read, make sure to review each of the Wampanoag language words listed in the front pages of the text.
  • After you read the book, ask the following questions: What are the names of the children in this story? Where does this story happen? Does it happen in more than one place? Aside from the humans, what other animals are in this story? What are the names of some of the plants in this story? (Encourage students to use the Wampanoag word, Weeâchumun) Why did Weeachumun send the First Peoples to help the newcomers? Why did she send Fox to watch the newcomers to see what they do? What is Keepunumuk?
  • Now without reading, show the book page by page and have students identify Fox throughout the story. Ask the students what Fox is doing in each of the scenes. Follow up with the question, “Why does Fox hide from people?”
  • Have students draw a picture inspired by the story and ask them to explain how they chose what to draw.
  • With prompting and support, explain that reading the cover or title page is a way to learn who created a book. Name the author and illustrator and define the role of each in telling the story.

Bioneers: Revolution From The Heart Of Nature

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​​​​Bioneers is an innovative nonprofit organization that highlights breakthrough solutions for restoring people and planet, with dynamic programs and initiatives focused on game-changing initiatives related to Restorative Food Systems, Biomimicry, Rights of Nature, Indigeneity, Women’s Leadership, and Youth Leadership. Their Indigeneity Program provides accurate and contemporary information about Indigenous science, media, and curriculum for social change.

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