Gardner Thanksgiving Kindergarten Feast

Gardner Thanksgiving Kindergarten Feast
Posted on 11/15/2018
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The annual Gardner Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast is a colorful display of costumed students who bring to life the historic first Thanksgiving between Native Americans and European Pilgrims at Plymouth held to celebrate the colony’s first harvest. Gardner kindergarten teachers organize the event and invite student guests from all grade levels to attend. Kindergarten students dress as Native Americans and guest students from other grades dress as Pilgrims. A ceremonial walk to the cafeteria and student handmade gift exchange makes for a truly memorable lesson in expressing friendship, appreciation, and thanks.

To prepare for the event, staff spends weeks teaching about the first Thanksgiving through history, art, and literature. Kindergarten classrooms focus on comparing agricultural practices between the first Thanksgiving and the present, in terms of how differently we grow and prepare food for day-to-day consumption. They also talk about transportation and the difference in cultural practices based on travel via ships, horses, and foot traffic versus vehicles and airplanes. Students also learn about cultural traditions for Native Americans and Pilgrims. Costumes for the feast are designed during a unit about Native American symbolism and the meaning of various patterns, paint, and images. Students choose their favorite pattern and transfer that to a  paper bag (usually from a local Kroger store). Headdresses are also designed by students using pattern block shapes. All artwork is completed in class, and all materials are supplied to students.

Students also create handmade gifts for an exchange to represent the appreciation and friendship that was expressed during the first Thanksgiving. Classes choose a project - like a bracelet, necklace, or snack item - and make it together. This is prepared ahead of the feast for kindergarten students to present to student guests at their shared tables.  

On the day of the feast (which is Friday, 11/16, at 1:45 p.m.) Gardner kindergarten parents provide all food items, which include popcorn, juice boxes, sliced turkey, rolls, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce. Kindergarten classes are divided into Native American tribes. Each teacher represents a tribe Chief. Classes and their Chiefs walk to the feast prepared in the cafeteria while chanting phrases to represent respective tribes. Gardner students from other classes line the hallways to watch. Pilgrims from other grade levels follow the precession to join the group in the cafeteria (this year, first grade classes, one class from second grade, and one class from third grade will join). A teacher provides a speech to students, who sit in rows across from one another with Native Americans on one side and Pilgrims on the other. Students exchange gifts, and then eat.

The first Thanksgiving at Gardner for kindergarten students is likely one they will never forget, and hopefully as historic in their little lives as the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth. Thank you to Gardner parents who provide food, and Gardner kindergarten staff who put together this creative display, exchange, and meal. Learn more about #HSSD Gardner STEM Magnet, here.

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