Rediscovering Thanksgiving: Fact vs. Fiction

Students learn about the Pilgrims and the first Massachusetts colonies, including why the Pilgrims came to the New World, their relationship with the Native peoples, and the truth behind the first Thanksgiving. 

Unit Summary

This unit challenges students to view history with a critical lens, and to notice how there is always more than one side to a story. The unit begins with the Mayflower and helps students develop an understanding of why so many colonists decided to leave England and travel to the New World. Students will explore the hardships faced by the colonists, both on the ship and once they arrive in the New World, and how the colonists persevered and relied on the geography and environment to meet their needs. Students will then learn about the Wampanoag, the people who were on the land before the Pilgrims arrived. They will learn about what the Wampanoag valued, how they viewed the Pilgrims, and how the arrival of explorers and settlers negatively influenced their tribe. Then students will be pushed to analyze what really happened at the first Thanksgiving, and whose story is being told. Students will realize that the traditional story of the first Thanksgiving contains many myths that don't accurately reflect the Wampanoag and what really happened in 1621. 

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • Why did the Pilgrims leave England? What challenges did they face when they reached the "New World"? 
  • Who were the first people to live in present day New England? How were their lives and communities impacted by the Europeans? 
  • What parts of the Thanksgiving story are true? What parts are myths? 
  • Why is it important to look at history from multiple perspectives? 

Vocabulary

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Text-based

accurate alliance ally bitter bustling captive colonization colony custom damp delight epidemic establish fearsome grateful grim ill influential linger motive pleasant pledge sheltered shallow sorrow stench temper thievery treaty wary will

Root/Affix

-ance -al -ful -some -tion

To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 3rd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Lesson Map

9

  • Pilgrims pp. 35 – 49

    RI.3.3

Describe who the Wampanoag were and what they valued. 

10

  • The Wampanoag pp. 23 – 31

    RI.3.3

Describe key aspects of Wampanoag culture. 

13

  • Squanto's Journey

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Explain why Squanto chose to help the Pilgrims. 

14

Writing

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.

15

  • Pilgrims pp. 51 – 61

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Analyze what information is missing about the Wampanoag. 

16Essential Task

  • The Wampanoag pp. 18 – 21

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Describe the Wampanoag's relationship with the Pilgrims. 

18

Writing

    RI.3.3

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

Draft a paragraph describing what it was like to be a Wampanoag in 1621.

19

  • Pilgrims pp. 70 – 83

    RI.3.3

Analyze an account of the First Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

22

  • 1621 pp. 37 – 43

    RI.3.3

Analyze an account of the first Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

25

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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L.3.1

L.3.1.f

L.3.1.h

L.3.1.i

L.3.2

L.3.2.a

RI.3.3

RI.3.9

SL.3.1

SL.3.1.a

SL.3.1.d

SL.3.6

W.3.2

W.3.2.a

W.3.7

W.3.8

Spiral Standards

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L.3.2.e

L.3.2.f

L.3.2.g

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

L.3.6

RF.3.3

RF.3.4

RI.3.1

RI.3.10

RI.3.4

RI.3.5

RI.3.7

SL.3.4

SL.3.5

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5

W.3.6