Friday, November 11, 2011

Giving Thanks

Week 11

This week we helped our Parent organization decorate for their Thanksgiving dinner by creating leaves that show what we are thankful for.  We read stories about Thanksgiving and talked about the traditions of the holiday in the US and Canada.

Guiding Question: What are we thankful for?

PreK 3
This is the Turkey, by Abby Levine
This short pattern story introduces traditional Thanksgiving foods. When guests arrive at the pot-luck meal, each bearing a familiar dish, we repeat the items from before. The story's comfortable rhythm leads us along until WHOOPS, the turkey slips, flies through the air, and lands in the fish tank!

This twist gives the story its theme: we have all we need at our table - good friends and good food. Cheerful illustrations and various ethnic groups around the table add to the affirming tone.

PreK 4
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, by Alison Jackson 
This is another fun way to introduce some of the traditional foods found at the Thanksgiving table. An old lady eats larger and larger items and grows to a rotund size. Perhaps she'll die from overeating...or maybe she just has a large appetite!

A quick silly read with a familiar pattern, this makes a good read aloud for young children.

One is a Feast for a Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale, by Judy Cox
What mouse could possibly refuse leftovers from the Thanksgiving table? Once this mouse starts taking "just one" of each item, he piles his food high and tries to get back to his hide-y hole with a towering stack of foods. But when Cat appears, he's got to scramble and loses everything he's gathered - except the one pea that he started with. The illustrations show the tiny mouse against the huge landscape of the laden table. 

Grade 1

Grade 1 didn't read a Thanksgiving story this week because we are connecting with another first grade in the US (Vermont). Both classes are reading a story about the idea of moving and holding on to one's memories of a place. We will design bookmarks based on some of the ideas in the story and send them to our new friends in Vermont. Our art teacher is working with us on this and the children are excited about using oil pastels for their designs.

I Know Here, by Laurel Croza
When a young girl finds out she's moving, she begins to keep track of all of the aspects of her home that make it special. As she recounts her observations, we come to understand that she's been living in a unique and beautiful place: a wild remote part of Canada.

She wonders what her new place, Toronto, will be like. Will people there have seen what she has experienced? We think not. She has seen moose drinking at a stream and a forest fire in full blaze; she has lived in an unusual place.

So she doesn't forget, she draws the essence of her home: the eight trailers on her road, the creek behind the hill where her sister collects frogs, the truck that delivers groceries, the howling of the wolf she hears at night. Most certainly she will be grateful for this act of committing her "here" to memory.

Grade 2
The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story, by Charlotte Herman
This is a perfect tie-in for grade 2's personal narrative unit. A young girl recounts a Thanksgiving at her grandmother's house when she broke a treasured gravy boat. Rather than getting angry, her grandmother showed her a cupboard where she kept broken items from a lifetime of child-rearing. She called it her "memory cupboard" because each object reminded her of a special time or person. The grandmother's message is soothing: forgiveness and our feelings are more important than any object in our home. 

Grade 3
Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast, by Kate Waters
Students love this story because it shows photographs of what Pilgrims and Native Americans might have looked like. We hear about a harvest feast that inspired our modern-day Thanksgiving holiday from two points of view: Resolved White is a young English settler and Dancing Moccasins is a teenage member of the Wampanoag tribe. 

The two boys take turns talking about preparations for the gathering. This gives us a sense of the cultural differences between them but also a sense of commonalities. Dancing Moccasins doesn't understand the concept of target practice and Resolved's community thinks that welcoming guests with a gun fire salute shows respect. But both boys enjoy games and good food, and both are excited about the possibility of becoming friends.

This story sparks lots of discussion and generates interest. I just wish the cover showed the boys with similar expressions.

Grade 4
The Autumn Equinox: Celebrating the Harvest, by Ellen Jackson 

Although not a fiction story, this is an accessible way to learn about harvest celebrations around the world. Each section includes a double page spread with succinct information and supporting illustrations. It's a good way to introduce the idea that Thanksgiving is only one of many such holidays and takes its inspiration from much earlier cultures. The cultures mentioned include Roman, Chinese, Celtic, Germanic, English, Jewish, Indian, and Angolan. Back matter gives supporting classroom activities, recipes, and a bibliography.

Grade 5
Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving, by Laurie Halse Anderson 
This engaging picture book biography tells the story of Sarah Hale, a champion of many causes but particularly passionate about the need for the United States to come together as a nation to celebrate Thanksgiving.

She wrote letters to every president spanning a 30 year period, but not until Lincoln did Thanksgiving become the important event it is today. This story makes a great lesson in the power of the pen and of perseverance!

No comments:

Post a Comment