Searching for books about Thanksgiving for our children has been quite fun. There are a variety of options for books to read during our homeschool days – from board books to chapter storybooks. One could also include unit studies to learn more about Thanksgiving, too. And if a unit study or course is too much to include during the month of November, there are plenty of options to include fun Thanksgiving-themed worksheets into your homeschool day. There is plenty of time to discuss the history of Thanksgiving and remember to focus upon gratefulness, too, this month.
The Story of Thanksgiving by Nancy J. Skarmeas and illustrated by Stacy Venturi-Pickett
This is a lovely little board book that introduces both vocabulary and the story of Thanksgiving to toddlers. Children can curl up on their parent's lap and hear about the journey of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and how Squanto helped them grow native foods. The Story of Thanksgiving ends with a reminder to thank God for our families, our food, and our homes.
Life on the Mayflower by Jessica Gunderson and illustrated by Brian Caleb Dumm
Children start with the sailing of the Mayflower and journey with the Pilgrims across the Atlantic Ocean. Subdued colors in the illustrations help tell the autumn tale of the Pilgrims, why they were called Separatists, how they entertained themselves during the time in the lower deck, as well as what happened when John Howland was thrown overboard. I appreciated the timeline of key dates, the strange but true facts, and the glossary at the end of the book. Perfect for helping take the story one step further in our homeschool.
Today is Thanksgiving! by P.K. Hallinan
This is a fun book that details the events of Thanksgiving Day, as seen through the eyes of two young children – a brother and a sister. On Thanksgiving Day, the siblings reminisce about the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving, smell the wonderful scents of potatoes, turkey, and pie in the kitchen, and watch a parade on television. What Thanksgiving day would not be complete without a game of football and loads of family arriving for dinner?
Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
After a journey to Plimoth Plantation and the discovery of a cat, the author decided to share the imagined story of one cat, named Pounce, who sailed on the Mayflower with the Pilgrims. The main character of Pilgrim Cat is a fictional one based upon real-life girls who journeyed to America. This tale will help your homeschooled children learn about the voyage as well as what life was like once the Pilgrims arrived in America. The Wampanoag Natives help the Pilgrims after they have set up their village and play a central role in the story. During all this Pounce gets into trouble and then disappears! Don't worry, there is a happy ending.
The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh and illustrated by Helen Sewell
This children's Thanksgiving book is a 1955 Caldecott Honor Book that starts with both the Mayflower and the Speedwell leaving England. It makes for a great inclusion to help children see the whole story of the Pilgrims. It also features the story of the Hopkins family, who had an addition to their family during the voyage – Oceanus Hopkins was born. The story closes with a time of Thanksgiving depicting the Pilgrims giving thanks to God.
Sarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra and illustrated by David Gardner
We read this book last year, too. I love sharing the story of Sarah Josepha Hale with our children. She provides such a fine example as a determined American. I am very grateful that she persisted after several presidents did not listen to her request to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. How very fitting that it would be Abraham Lincoln who issued the proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving. It may have taken her 36 years, but I am very thankful that we have this wonderful holiday.
Unit Studies and Useful Resources to Study Thanksgiving
My Teaching Library
There are 38 available downloads featuring Thanksgiving from My Teaching Library. You can very easily incorporate some fun word searches, memory verses, vocabulary activities, or even a game of bingo into your homeschool day. There are even two Roman Numerals downloads available that feature Thanksgiving-like mazes that require your homeschooling children to convert Arabic numerals to Roman numerals and back. I printed out several for our son because he has been wanting to learn Roman Numerals.
One of my favorite curriculum sites offers holiday and seasonal resources, including a wide selection of fall-themed lessons, Canadian Thanksgiving lessons, American Thanksgiving lessons, and Thankfulness and Gratitude lessons. From art lessons on how to draw a maple leaf or turkey to writing prompts and copywork, you can find a variety of lessons and activities to help fill out your homeschool days leading up to Thanksgiving. There is even a selection of math games based. And if you want to study the history of more than just Thanksgiving, History of Holidays in America will let your elementary student learn about 20 holidays.