The First Thanksgiving Activities

It is generally the people who have the most trials that feel the most gratitude toward God. This was certainly the case of the Pilgrims. It was because of their heavy suffering of that first year that they felt such gratitude toward God that they took several days from their urgent work to give thanks to Him and to celebrate their harvest.

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First Thanksgiving Activities

1. Tell your kids about the struggles of the first winter for the pilgrims when over half the company died, the rest were sick and hungry and cold. As an object lesson bring out their “breakfast” of a few kernels of corn. That was all they had to eat most days.

2. Read books about the pilgrims like The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewell or Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness. Look for others at your library.

3. The pilgrims were protestant Christians who had very firm beliefs about God.  Their beliefs were central to their actions. At the time of their first harvest William Bradford wrote, “And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity.”  Read the account of the First Thanksgiving straight from William Bradford’s account in Of Plymouth Plantation.

4. Spend some time thinking about the blessings from God that you enjoy in your life and have your kids make a Thanksgiving tree of their blessings.

5. Make a pilgrim people craft.

6. Try some of these Thanksgiving printables.

7. The traditional Thanksgiving meal that we eat each year isn’t quite what the pilgrims would have eaten. They did have turkey, but as for the rest it’s a little different. They ate venison, lobster, fish, gourds and corn. There weren’t any potatoes or sweet potatoes, green beans and absolutely no Jello. They didn’t even have pie for dessert. The sweets they ate would have been very limited as sugar, honey, maple syrup, and molasses were scarce. There would have been very little in the way of dairy products as well. They probably didn’t have fluffy rolls plastered with butter. Here’s a recipe they might have had:

Hasty Pudding

  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix cornmeal and 1 cup of water. Heat the other three cups of water to a boil in a sauce pot. Add salt to boiling water. Carefully stir in the cornmeal mixture and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Serve it warm with a pat of butter and some brown sugar, maple syrup or honey.

9. The pilgrims played games at the first Thanksgiving with the Indians who came to join them. Try some out. They had foot races, demonstrated their prowess with the musket and the bow and arrow, held wrestling matches (you could try arm wrestling), and other feats of strength. The boys and men would have participated in the games while the women and girls did the cooking. Not fair, but true.

10.  Check out our Thanksgiving Pinterest Board for lots more Thanksgiving fun!

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Pilgrims vs Indians Football Match-up. Review facts about the pilgrims and Indians while you play {printable}

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