L is for Longhouse

The Wampanoag tribe shared the first Thanksgiving feast with the Pilgrims. After arriving in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims were exhausted, following a two month voyage from England.

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Being severely weakened, many pilgrims did not survive.  They were unfamiliar with the harsh weather of the New World and relied on the Wampanoag Indians to teach them the land.

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This tribe combined bark and other plant materials to make their homes, called longhouses.  The inside of these longhouses had a dirt floor. The dirt permitted the use of a small fire to keep warm.

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To convey the complex history of the Wampanoag Indians, we created our very own longhouses.

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We first discussed the construction of the longhouse during circle time. Students then built two-dimensional longhouses out of craft sticks. Following, your little ones used flower foam, sticks, and wicker planters to create three-dimensional longhouse structures.

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Burlap Teepees

Young children are fascinated by the many dwelling places of the various American Indian tribes, and love to recreate the things they learn through dramatic play.

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What they enjoy more, however, is creating the materials that they use for the imaginary worlds they create. For this activity, we decorated teepees. Following their creation, your little one participated in small world dramatic play. Doing so contributes to their development in several ways.

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For one thing, it helps them work together toward a common goal. As they played with their teepees, they combined their worlds. Working together  like this teaches teamwork, fuels creative thinking, and also exercises your little one’s ability to use make believe as a means to integrate the information they have been introduced to at school.

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Turkey Feather Addition

With the aid of colorful illustrations, including a story and manipulatives, we reinforced the anatomy of a turkey, and its role in the Thanksgiving feast.

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Each child was given the opportunity to include their understanding of what was Thanksgiving was (following cues – allowing them to formulate their own sentences), and asking open-ended questions.

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This provided them with a positive environment to reinforce their attempts to talk and speak in complex sentences. We then added a counting element to this activity. Using feathers, baby food jars, and a paper turkey, we practiced adding and subtracting turkey feathers.

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Using real life items illustrates this complicated concept for young children, and enables them to make connections not allotted by simply using a paper and pencil. Manipulating colorful materials also provides instant feedback, which forms the cornerstone for more advanced critical thinking.

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Q is for Quail

There are many myths surrounding the Thanksgiving feast. According to historians, this festive celebration most likely occurred between September 21st and November 11th in 1621. Though turkey is the professed staple of this holiday, it is more likely that the American Indians introduced our colonist friends to an array of fowl.

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Having never experienced a North American winter, these newcomers were inexperienced in gathering and hunting the sustenance necessary for their survival. The Wampanoag Indians remedied this situation by introducing the Pilgrims to quails.

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Your little pilgrim learned about the history of the quail, and its role in the Thanksgiving celebration. They then used feathers, plastic eyes, pipe cleaners, and clay to create their own version of a quail.

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Manipulating malleable materials, like clay, has a calming affect on young children. As they roll, coil, and mold their creations into an observable shape, they are engaging in a process of discovery and exploration. Clay also provides immediate tactile and visual feedback.

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Husking Corn

Corn was a staple of the first Thanksgiving celebration, so we have incorporated it into our Thanksgiving curriculum! We not only learned about the history of corn, but its anatomy, how it grows, and most importantly, how to eat it!

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Using our fingers, we removed the husks from sweet corn, cooked it, and ate it for snack! When children are involved with food experience and food preparation, they are more interested in trying it.

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Husking corn gives children an opportunity to see how corn looks when it leaves the field. They are learning that corn simply does not come out of the freezer or a can off the shelf. It is an opportunity to touch, see the husk of the corn kernels, and hear the snap and crackle of the corn husk as it is pulled off of the ear.

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Fine Motor Maize

When young children are using tweezers to pick up, manipulate, and sort materials – they are practicing their fine motor skills in the process. As they are continually exposed to activities that encourage this process, they are being prepared to write, type on a computer, throw and catch a ball, and open a door – the list is endless. Each experience strengthens the muscles that will eventually lay the foundation for higher learning. For this activity, we practiced tweezing kernels of dried corn and sorting them by color into ice cube trays.

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Corn Begins with C

Young children need a variety of ways to learn about letters. Between the ages of three and five, your little one is just learning how to distinguish letters from shapes, identify the sounds they make, and are working on strengthening the tiny muscles in their hands.

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Using our large tweezers, magnetic letters, and kernels of corn, we searched for the letter C, and then placed the correct letter onto a mat with its match! This activity improved your little ones’ fine motor skills, encouraged hand-eye coordination, and fostered their ability to differentiate between items that are alike and different.

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