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If you ask my first grade English Laboratory students what Thanksgiving is all about, they would excitedly explain that it’s the day American’s eat Turkey.

They would than proceed to tell me that they forgot how to call “that yellow stuff”, while they attempt to justify not knowing because they don’t eat it.

Until I remind them what popcorn is made of…

They remember the turkey even though we’ve been spending 20 minutes each lesson, since the beginning of November, sharing with each other what makes us feel thankful.

I tell them: “This is my favorite holiday, because we can all take the time to reflect on what is in our life and knowing that what we have is important and valuable.

My adult students definitely get the message more clearly, of course. It’s only normal that children connect with the more tangible parts of each holiday and as they grow they get the messages a bit more clearly.

Even my Fifth grade English Laboratory students get it and each wrote letters to their family, friends and teachers expressing what makes them thankful.

When I prepare my lessons for each group I try to ask myself: what is Thanksgiving? How can I explain it to my students, who have never celebrated it before?

… and some have never even heard of it.

What was the the actual point of celebrating Thanksgiving?


It was a harvest festival, that’s all Thanksgiving was.

It originated to give thanks for the harvest after a difficult year of learning and adapting to the new world. There are many versions of the pilgrims story, but in essence they each end with a harvest feast. That is why the traditional dinner consists of foods and dishes that are indigenous to the Americas. That’s why we eat turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, corn, green beans, cranberry and pumpkin pie.

In modern day, we no longer celebrate the harvest of the year, so the holiday adapted into a celebration of thankfulness for the abundance we each have in our lives.

So maybe my first graders understand the holiday better than the rest of us.

They got the message and they can’t be more right.

Be thankful for what you eat.

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