Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
Thanksgiving & Harvest Unit Introduction
acorn squash, beans, beats, bread, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cranberry sauce, cucumbers, eggplant, football, gravy, hay, lettuce, linens, mashed potatoes, napkin rings, onion, pea pods, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, pumpkin pie, serving dishes, squash, stuffing, sweet potatoes, turkey, turnip, whip cream
Possible Vocabulary for this unit include but are not limited to:
acorn, beans, beats, bread, broccoli, carrots, carve, cauliflower, celery, china, corn, cranberry, cucumber, dinner, eggplant, entertain, family, feast, football, friend, game, garnish, gourd, gravy, harvest, hay, holiday, kind, lettuce, linen, manner, mashed, meal, onion, parade, pea, pepper, polite, potato, pumpkin, reap, relatives, serve, squash, stuffing, sweet potato, table, thankful, thanks, travel, turkey, turnip, whip cream
Possible web categories include:
- Foods that are harvested in the fall
- Foods commonly served at Thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving & Harvest Time Concepts
- Recognize plants that we eat.
- Recognize that food comes from sources other than grocery stores.
- Compare and contrast how some plants are alike and how they are different.
- Farmers grow vegetables, fruits, grains and sell to companies that can/jar/freeze them.
- Students will gain an awareness of Thanksgiving and the traditions that surround it.
Start the unit by setting up a display of vegetables in baskets, a wheelbarrow, or a wagon and place them in the group discussion area. Discuss with students that foods are grown by farmers who harvest many of their crops in the fall. Identify that farmers meet our need for food. Identify farms within your own community. Explain how different environmental differences affect what plants can be grown in different areas. Farmers sell their crops to companies and stores where we buy them.
Giving Thanks for the Harvest
Thanksgiving in North America had originated from a mix of European and Native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community. At the time, Native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season. When Europeans first arrived to the Americas, they brought with them their own harvest festival traditions from Europe, celebrating their safe voyage, peace and good harvest.
Thanksgiving was originally a religious observance for all the members of the community to give thanks to God for a common purpose.
Nov 30, 1777 General George Washington issues orders setting aside December 18, 1777 as a day "for solemn Thanksgiving and Praise" to celebrate recent victories over the British in the American Revolution. It is the first day of thanksgiving in the newly formed United States of America.
In his 1789 Proclamation, President Washington gave many noble reasons for a national Thanksgiving, including "for the civil and religious liberty", for "useful knowledge", and for God's "kind care" and "His Providence". The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in various forms.
1841 New England historian Alexander Young discovers a letter by Edward Winslow, one of the original colonists, mentioning the 1621 harvest feast. Young describes it as the "first thanksgiving."
Nov 1846 Sarah Hale begins a letter-writing campaign to make the last Thursday of November a national Thanksgiving Day holiday. Her campaign will continue for 17 years.
Aug 6, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declares a day of thanksgiving after the Union's victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg during the Civil War. After receiving a letter from Sarah Hale in September, he declares the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving Day.
Nov 23, 1939 Breaking from the tradition established by Lincoln, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the next-to-last Thursday of November instead of the last Thursday. President Franklin Roosevelt makes the change after the National Retail Dry Goods Association encourages him to extend the Christmas shopping season by one week. The country is thrown into confusion.
Nov 26, 1941 Ending the confusion once and for all, President Roosevelt signs legislation making Thanksgiving day the fourth Thursday of each November.
Since 1924 In New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held annually every Thanksgiving Day from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Macy's flagship store in Herald Square, and televised nationally by NBC. The parade features parade floats with specific themes, scenes from Broadway plays, large balloons of cartoon characters and TV personalities, and high school marching bands. The float that traditionally ends the Macy's Parade is the Santa Claus float, the arrival of which is an unofficial sign of the beginning of the Christmas season.
Today On Thanksgiving Day, families and friends usually gather for a large meal or dinner. Consequently, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. Firstly, baked or roasted turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table. Stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, various fall vegetables (mainly various kinds of squashes), and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner.
The less fortunate are often provided with food at Thanksgiving time. Most communities have annual food drives that collect non-perishable packaged and canned foods, and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods and Thanksgiving dinners.
American football is also an important part of many Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States.
The day after Thanksgiving is a day off for some companies and many schools. It is popularly known as Black Friday, because of the heavy shopping that day helps put retailers' back into black. Black Friday has been considered by retailers to be the start of the Christmas shopping season since as early as the 1930s.
Encourage students to write poems about vegetables. Assist those who need help by dictating their poems or summarizing their thoughts on vegetables. Use a variety of vegetables to paint a large sheet of construction paper. Include vegetables that would leave different types of prints such as peppers, potatoes, an ear of corn, etc. After the paint has dried, attach the poem.
Thanksgiving Napkin Holders
Have students write on labels verses, poems, or sayings about being thankful. Attach labels to tags and attach with ribbon to silk fall leaves to create napkin holders that can be read on Thanksgiving.
Gather a few branches and place in a planter. Label the planter with the words "Be Thankful." Have students write what they are thankful for on leaves. Attach leaves to the tree. Dictate or summarize for students who need help.
Research Favorite Vegetable
Assist students in researching how to grow their favorite vegetable, where it is grown, etc.
Provide the students with a variety of vegetables and encourage the students to taste each item. BE AWARE OF ANY ALLERGIES & SUBSTITUTE ACCORDINGLY!! Complete a chart depicting each item. Have students identify which items they liked and place a smile (or other indicator) on the chart. Engage the students in a discussion about the different tastes, smells, and textures. (salty, sour, sweet, bland, crunchy, soft, etc.) Discuss how results may vary if other classes or family members completed the graph. Encourage the students to read the completed graph and develop a summary sheet. What was the most popular item? What was the least popular?
Potato Product Taste Test
Graph students’ favorite way to eat potatoes. Discuss how potatoes can be turned into other products. Statistics. Select category that has the most or fewest in a graph. Discuss how results may vary if other classes completed the graph.
Provide a variety of papers in textures/color to create vegetable soup collage. Alternatively, provide a variety of canned vegetable labels to for students to create a vegetable product collage.
Colored Vegetable Prints
Provide students with sliced vegetables and their corresponding paint color (ex. Red pepper in red paint, corn in yellow paint, acorn squash in orange paint, eggplant in purple paint, cucumbers in green paint, etc.) and a large piece of construction paper to create a vegetable print mural.
Assist students in painting their palm and thumb brown and each finger with a different color paint to represent the feathers. When the prints are dry, add an eye, waddle and legs.
Paint with Berry Juice
Have students paint on sandpaper to create sand art.
Indian Corn Art
Use yellow, orange, red and brown tissue paper squares. Have students crumple the squares and glue on corn ear shape. Glue real husks to outside.
Literature Related to Thanksgiving & Harvest...
Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables - Ehlert
Growing Vegetable Soup – Ehlert
I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie - Alison Jackson
The Big, Big Carrot
Thanksgiving on Thursday - Magic Tree House
The Big, Big Carrot
The First Thanksgiving - Step into Reading - Step 3
The Turkey Shot out of the Oven – Jack Prelutsky
Thanksgiving –Florence Earle Coates
Be Thankful - Louis Armstrong
Kind and Generous - Natalie Merchant
Thank You - Dido
Thank You for the Music - ABBA
Thankful - Kelly Clarkson
Thanksgiving Song - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Thanksgiving Day –Ray Davies
We Are Family - Sister Sledge
What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Brochures from the area that list fall activities.
Grocery Store Flyers
Thanksgiving menus from various restaurants, taverns, clubs or resorts listing foods that are served for this special day
Author: by Ann McGovern
Introduce the Book
Show the student the front and back cover of the book and read the title with them. For students without useable vision, describe the picture on the front and back cover.
Present students with pictures and objects from the story. Bring in a large pot, a stone, a yellow onion, a small bunch of whole carrots, some chicken bones and a beef bone (be sure to compare!), a salt shaker, a pepper shaker, a stick of butter, and some dry pearl barley. Place the pot, stone and food in front of the students Verbally describe the pictures for those with low vision.
Read the Story
Read story with enthusiasm and inflection. Provide the students with copies of the text. Reread the story with the students and encourage them to read along or to read high frequency, vocabulary words, or braille contractions if instructing the student in braille. Pause when you come to these words, prompting students to fill in the blank.