The story of the first Thanksgiving is about as American as baseball and apple pie.
The tale of pilgrims settling in for their first long winter in a strange new land, sharing a feast with their neighboring Native Americans has been depicted countless times on TV and in books, in paintings, and in story. And, sure, there might be some historical facts warped a bit here and there (some say there wasn’t any turkey served at all) but overall, the legend of what happened has long surpassed true accuracy when it comes to importance.
That’s probably why, even today, American school kids everywhere still celebrate the coming of Thanksgiving with the same age-old traditions you and I did way back when we were in the early grades dressing-up as pilgrims (big buckled hats) and Native Americans (big head-dresses), scissoring and pasting together turkeys out of construction paper, eating instant stuffing and canned cranberries with our classmates at a mock “first Thanksgiving” in the cafeteria: legions of school kids long before us did it, we did it, and our kids continue to do it.
The memories we carry away from our little school plays and lunchtime feasts, they are something to be thankful for, really. For they are things that we tend to remember, if only in bits and bobs and flashes, many years later, decades later even.
Because Thanksgivings, they come and they go.
But those first ones are pretty dang special.
In This Together 1 of 13I guess, in a lot of ways, school kids realize that they are all in this thing together, just like the earliest Americans must have realized way back in the 17th century.
Costume Greatness 2 of 13It is worth arguing the possibility that the pilgrim hats and Indian headdresses that school kids create out of construction paper and paste and glue are some of the greatest American traditions we have.
Long Time Comin’ 3 of 13Seeing photos of school kids reenacting the First Thanksgiving from a time before we were even born reminds us that it is indeed a tradition that has stood the test of time.
The Excitement 4 of 13There is just no denying that kids get excited about reenacting that first Thanksgiving dinner. And who can blame 'em?
Communal Table 5 of 13I especially like these kinds of pics, when the whole classroom is seated together for the big feast. It seems like how the meal was supposed to be enjoyed, and how the spirit of the day was supposed to be captured.
Construction Paper Costumes 6 of 13Is there anything better than kids fashioning their own Native American headdresses and pilgrim hats out of hick construction paper? I think not.
History Comes Alive 7 of 13For a lot of kids, Thanksgiving is the first real history lesson they are ever exposed to. The fact that it is a story of relative peace and sharing makes it all that much better too, if you ask me.
Uniqueness 8 of 13It's pretty great that Thanksgiving has managed, thus far, to escape most of the commercial trappings of just about every other holiday out there. It's a day still largely about spending time with family and friends and the importance of something as simple as being grateful for the meal you are sharing with people you love. I hope, for my kids sake, and yours too, that it always stays that way.
Placemats and Centerpieces 9 of 13Thanksgiving allows kids to get pretty creative if they are willing to let their minds wander. Sure, turkeys are everywhere, but still. Drawing and coloring and cutting out the iconic images of the holiday while putting their own individual little stamp on things really allows children to make the celebration their own in a trillion different cool ways.
Things Come Alive 10 of 13By dressing up in the garb of those that came before us, kids are undoubtedly brought closer to the story and the meaning of it than they ever could be taught just from a text book or a film strip (remember those !!??).
So Much To Learn 11 of 13By learning about a tale that involves Native Americans, youngsters delving into the story of the first Thanksgiving are also being gradually introduced to one of the most intriguing and monumental stories in American history.
A Lot Of Fun, Too 12 of 13Yes, all of the historical points about the first Thanksgiving are worth being taught. But there is also a huge element of fun in the way young kids celebrate it in school that is just as crucial and just as cool as anything else.
Proud Kids 13 of 13At the end of any school Thanksgiving play or pageant or feast, every youngster there has a real right to be proud of themselves. After all, they've just done a darn fine job at commemorating one of the greatest days in all of American history, now haven't they?
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