We have all come to recognize the cornucopia as a symbol of Thanksgiving or the fall harvest and many of us use one to decorate our dining room tables as the centerpiece to our traditional feast. There is more, however, to this horn-shaped figure than meets the eye. Its name, entered into the English dictionary in 1508, originates from two Latin words; Cornu meaning “horn” and Copia meaning “plenty”. Hence the nickname Horn of Plenty, which in most cases today refers to an abundance of something.
In ancient times and in cases associated with Thanksgiving, it refers to a horn-shaped basket or hallowed out gourd filled with fruits and vegetables gathered from a good harvest and sometimes may contain flowers for added beauty.
To incorporate the cornucopia into our Thanksgiving curriculum, we used magnets. We did this by attaching magnetic food to the inside of magnetic cornucopias.
By placing the food inside a fixed space (a cone-shaped cornucopia), your children practiced representation (making mathematical ideas real by using objects – the magnets), spatial sense (practicing position, size, and space), and estimation (how many magnets will fit inside?).