We are about to read an excerpt from Of Plymouth Plantation, and to supplement it, I found a couple more modern articles that discuss the REAL first Thanksgiving, not the stuff many little kids are fed about top hats, buckles, turkey, and a friendly meal. The real first Thanksgiving involved half the Pilgrims not even surviving the trip over to the New World, no top hats, and most likely, not even any turkey. They probably ate seafood like mussels, as well as wildfowl like duck.
The two articles I found were this one from history.com that is a more serious, factual account of it. And this one from Parade magazine, which is a humorous account of one man who decided to host Thanksgiving with his family like the real first Thanksgiving. The students will write an analysis comparing and contrasting the two articles looking at things like author's tone, content, etc.
But anyways, to kick off this unit, I had the students brainstorm what they think of when they think of the first Thanksgiving and I wrote a list on the board. As I expected, most said turkey, pumpkin, Pilgrims, top hats, cornucopias, etc. So then I showed them this humorous (but factual) rap video on YouTube that gave them some inkling of what really happened, and afterwards we talked about how that was different from our list on the board.
Horrible Histories actually has a ton of YouTube videos that range from William Shakespeare to Rosa Parks. I have only checked out the Shakespeare one briefly, and it was funny as well.
The kids found it silly and goofy, which I expected, but they also picked out a lot of the facts that they hadn't known before about the first Thanksgiving. I thought this was an excellent way to get into our Pilgrim/First Thanksgiving literature unit.
And, since the real first Thanksgiving most likely happened in Sept. or Oct. and not November, this is the perfect time of year for it, too.