Identifying Perceptions of the “First Thanksgiving”

Students investigate historical evidence and perspectives through an examination of the event known as the “first Thanksgiving.” They begin by identifying what they already know or believe to be true, generating questions, and comparing information in two types of sources.

Edward Winslow’s Letter

Only one recorded document describes what happened on the date in 1621 that we know as the “first Thanksgiving”: a letter written by colonist Edward Winslow to a friend. Students examine the original letter, a modern translation, and an historian’s interpretation of the evidence, gathering more evidence about the event and to practice analysis of a primary source.

A New Look at Thanksgiving (Part 1 of 2)

Students learn how historians have pieced together evidence to build a better understanding of the “first Thanksgiving.” They read the book 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac to collect evidence about this event and examine it from multiple perspectives.

A New Look at Thanksgiving (Part 2 of 2)

Students conduct small-group discussions after taking a deeper look at 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac. They learn how a single day in 1621 evolved into a major US holiday.

Constructing a Claim with Evidence (Checkpoint Assessment)

Through this Essential Question, students have collected evidence about the event known as the “first Thanksgiving.” This final lesson may be used as a checkpoint assessment of cumulative learning throughout this Essential Question. Here, students analyze their evidence to construct a claim about changes to their understanding of this event.

Native America

Essential Question

Can we know the whole story behind an historical event?

Students critically examine the event known as the “first Thanksgiving,” by exploring a variety of primary and secondary sources. They reflect upon the importance of having multiple perspectives when understanding an historical event.


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