Thanksgiving – Been There, Done That


As we move along on our “special days” studies through November, I see Thanksgiving looming coming up in the not so distant future.  I thought seriously about not teaching Thanksgiving lessons this year.   How could I not want to teach Thanksgiving?  We’ve always had wonderful Thanksgiving lessons in November.  Yes, that’s it.  For 17 years – 17 Novembers, I’ve been teaching a week or two or three of Thanksgiving.  The who, what, when, why, and how of those Mayflower pilgrims and the natives that they encountered, Lincoln’s proclamation to make a Thanksgiving holiday,  Bible studies that focus on giving thanks and gratitude, nutritional studies of squash, pumpkins, turkeys, sweet potatoes, and corn, Thanksgiving celebrations around the world, tons of cooking projects, and craft activities to go along with it all – we’ve been there and done that over and over again.

In addition to my grumpy mood about Thanksgiving lessons,  our primary history focus of the year is Modern World History so the Pilgrim/Indian theme just doesn’t seem to fit or apply.   I look over the recent additions to our timeline and see WW1, the stock market crash of 1929, WW2 – hard and fearful times, but still were thankful times, too.  Hmmm …

Below are some of the online resources we’ll be using as we begin a new Thanksgiving  study with a modern history twist, and the cure for my Thanksgiving lesson planning grumpiness.  I’m actually getting excited about these lessons now!

During WW1, food was rationed and that had quite an impact on that Thanksgiving dinner.  This article does a terrific job explaining American Thanksgiving during WW1.   I love the photos of the newspaper ads from 1917 and 1918.

And what of the troops on Thanksgiving 1918?  Read about the football, feasts, and entertainment the Red Cross planned in this old Stars and Stripes magazine article

Macy’s Department Store held their first parade in 1924.  Read about the history of this famous parade here

Watch a short video of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade history with some actual film footage from the first parade

View this Macy’s Thanksgiving Day photo gallery from Time,29307,2100160_2324105,00.html

Recording of Benny Goodman’s radio show Thanksgiving 1937

And with that fantastic swing music, some swing dance instructions may be in order

A wonderful account of the Thanksgiving that came early

And more about that early Thanksgiving which became known as “Franksgiving” from this historic letter collection

470px-Freedom_From_WantThat famous Norman Rockwell American family portrait of Thanksgiving dinner is still a popular work of art today.  But back in 1943 it was a political statement.  Find out more about that here

Details of WW2 Thanksgiving in a pdf from  America in WWII Magazine

A delightful article about Thanksgiving at home and at war

Thanksgiving writings from WW2 veterans along with some pictures from  Time Magazine 1940′s Thanksgiving photo album

And back in those days, math was practical and so are these Thanksgiving themed math lessons

The common thread of Thanksgiving celebration during these times seems to be making the most with whatever resources were available and finding blessings in any circumstance.  With this in mind, our Thanksgiving Bible studies will focus on contentment.

  • Philippians 4:11-12   I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
  • 1 Timothy 6:8   But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
  • Hebrews 13:5   Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Just for fun and a little about the mindset of the times here’s a  Classic Thanksgiving cartoon  playlist.  One of these is from 1933 and one from 1945.  The rest are a little more recent, 1950′s-70′s.

What about science?  How about human anatomy and the digestive system?  Seems to fit the theme of “Thanksgiving dinner”, right?

Digestive System Facts –

Human Body Interactive Map of the digestion system –

Label the Digestion System  printable with a vocabulary and definition list

This National Geographic video is NOT for the squeamish!  It is actual footage of the digestive process filmed by a scope procedure.

A little more pleasant to watch,  an animation of how the digestive system works

There is even a digestion song!

Online Digestive System Quiz

I thought we’d skip over any crafting with this Thanksgiving study since we’ll be crafting like crazy over the Christmas season, however I saw this awesome digestion system craft project/game photo passed around the homeschooling groups on Face Book…



Hopefully our appetites will still exist after this science study!  We have a lot of cooking to do.  We’ve invited guests for Thanksgiving dinner.

I wish you happy learning this Thanksgiving!

betty jo

Learning Resources for November’s Special Days

novemberThere are wonderful opportunities for learning something special everyday from the November calendar.  This link will take you to the list of themes and special days throughout November

Learning Resources Links for November Themes

Aviation is one of the themes repeated throughout the year.  The study resources we used during August’s “Aviation Week” were great and will work just as well in November.

World Communication  – communication course

Diabetes Awareness  – A fun and silly thing to do, but important too

Music – (Shouldn’t music be a theme every month)  “SQUILT” is a super way to learn music and composers   We also go to this site often for theory and free sheet music printables

NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) –

Nov. Holiday Themed Art Projects –

Nov. Themed Math –  and

Nov. Prayer Calendar –

Nov. Science Calendar –

Nov. Writing Prompts –

Turkeys are not an official theme for November,  but are still an appropriate study for the month

Last November we had a fabulous study all month long learning about the people, times, events, and foods leading up to the first  “Pilgrim/Indian” Thanksgiving.

 Learning resources for November’s special days

Presidents Birthdays:

  • Nov. 2 – Warren Harding 1865
  • Nov. 2 – James Polk 1795
  • Nov. 23 – Franklin Pierce 1804
  • Nov. 24 – Zachary Taylor 1784

Statehood Anniversaries

  • Nov. 2 – North and South Dakota1889
  • Nov. 8 – Montana 1889
  • Nov. 16 – Oklahoma 1907
  • Nov. 21 – North Carolina 1789

State facts video  and state unit study and lapbook printables

Nov. 2 – Alternate birth date for Daniel Boone 1734

Nov. 4 – Common Sense Day – Read the Thomas Payne Publications  and watch this episode of Liberty’s Kids

Nov. 5 – Guy Fawkes Day and Bonfire Night

Nov. 7 -  Evangelist Billy Graham born 1918  Facts and timeline—fast-facts/

Nov. 7 – Tongue Twister Day  How fast can you say these?

Nov. 11 – Origami Day

Nov. 11 – Veteran’s Day (US)

Nov. 12 – Suffragist/Reformer Elizabeth Stanton born 1815 –

Nov. 16 – Geography Awareness Week begins – this is our “go to” site for all things geography and country information  and interactive games

Nov. 16 – Fast Food Day  lesson plans and nutrition study

Nov. 17 – Explorers Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean 1805  Try this interactive game and find out if your family can succeed  on the trail with Lewis and Clark  and a Lewis biography with printables

Nov. 18 – Mickey Mouse Debut 1928  Watch the first Mickey Mouse cartoon

Nov. 19 – Explorer George Rogers Clark born 1752 (see Nov. 17 above)

Nov. 21 – First Hot Air Balloon Flight 1763 – Learn about hot air balloon history, engineering, activities and videos

Nov. 25 – Author/Illustrator Marc Brown born 1946 cross curricular lesson plans and activities

Nov. 25 – Woody Woodpecker debut 1940  Watch the old cartoons

Nov. 26 – Cartoonist Charles Schulz born 1922 – Peanuts resources

Nov. 29 – Author CS Lewis born 1898 – Huge list of resources

Nov. 30 – Advent begins

Nov. 30 – St. Andrews Day

Nov. 30 – Author Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) born 1835 Biography and printables ,  tour Hannibal, MO , and  literature study resources  (you’ll need to scroll down towards the bottom)

Happy November Learning

betty jo

Special Days in November, 2014

novemberHere’s my list of November’s special days, holidays, observances, food themes, awareness days, historic figures and authors birthdays, science and historic based anniversaries,  and more!   So much to learn about, celebrate, and eat all November long!

November Themes

  • Alzheimer’s Awareness
  • American Indian Heritage
  • Aviation History
  • Child Safety and Protection
  • Creative Child
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy Awareness
  • Family Caregivers
  • Family Stories
  • Healthy Lifestyles
  • Historic Bridge
  • International Drum
  • Inspirational Role Models
  • Life Writing
  • Lung Cancer Awareness
  • Military Family Appreciation
  • Music
  • No TV
  • Novel Writing
  • NoSHAVEmber
  • Stamp Collecting

November Food Themes

  • Banana Pudding
  • Georgia Pecan
  • Gluten-Free Awareness
  • Good Nutrition
  • Greens
  • Plantains
  • Peanut Butter Lovers
  • Pepper
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate
  • Raisin Bread
  • Roasting
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potato
  • Vegan

November Daily Specials   (the * following the special day means that it may fall on a different date each year)

Nov. 1

  • All Saints Day
  • Authors’ Day
  • Bison Day
  • Missionary William Borden born 1887
  • Family Literacy Day
  • Plate Tectonics Day
  • Prime Meridian Day
  • Sadie Hawkins Day * (1st Sat.)
  • Vinegar Day
  • World Communication Week begins

Nov. 2

  • All Souls Day
  • Ashura begins *
  • Book Lovers Day
  • Cookie Monster Day
  • Daniel Boone born 1734 (other sources claim Oct. 22)
  • Daylight Saving Time ends *
  • Deviled Egg Day
  • Fraud Awareness Week begins *
  • Give Wildlife a Break Week begins *
  • President Warren Harding born 1865
  • Look For Circles Day
  • North Dakota statehood 1889
  • President James Polk born 1795
  • Rad Tech Week begins *
  • South Dakota Statehood 1889

Nov. 3

  • Animal Shelter Appreciation Week begins *
  • Poet Wm. C. Bryant born 1794
  • Cliche’ Day
  • First Dog in Space 1957
  • Housewife’s Day
  • Job Action Day *(1st Mon.)
  • Sandwich Day

Nov. 4

  • Candy Day
  • Cash Register patented 1880
  • Common Sense Day
  • Election Day (US) *
  • Author Sterling North born 1906
  • King Tut’s Tomb discovered 1922

Nov. 5

  • Bonfire Night
  • Doughnut Day
  • Gasoline-driven Automobile patented 1895
  • Gunpowder Day
  • Guy Fawkes Day
  • Author Marcia Sewall born 1935

Nov. 6

  • Composser Ignace Paderewski born 1860
  • Electric Shaver patented 1923
  • Marooned Without a Compass Day
  • Nachos Day
  • Saxophone Day
  • Composer John Phillips Sousa born 1854

Nov. 7

  • Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
  • Canadian Pacific Railway completed 1885
  • Scientist Marie Curie born 1867
  • Evangelist Billy Graham born 1918
  • Dear Santa Week begins *
  • Men Make Dinner Day
  • Tongue Twister Day

Nov. 8

  • Game Inventor Milton Bradley born 1836
  • Cappuccino Day
  • Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day
  • Domino Day *(2nd Sat.)
  • Geography Awareness Week *(2nd full week)
  • Astronomer Edmond Hailey born 1656
  • Montana statehood 1889
  • Parents as Teachers Day
  • Punster’s Day
  • X-Ray Day

Nov. 9

  • Berlin Wall opened 1989
  • Hunger and Homeless Week begins *
  • Kristallnacht anniversary 1938
  • Pursuit of Happiness Week begins
  • Young Reader’s Week begins *(2nd full week)

Nov. 10

  • Forget-Me-Not Day
  • Great Wall of China opened to tourism 1970
  • Theologian Martin Luther born 1483
  • Sesame Street first broadcast 1969
  • US Marine Corps established 1775
  • 1st Motorcycle 1885
  • Vanilla Cupcake Day
  • Windshield Wipers patented 1903

Nov. 11

  • Origami Day
  • Remembrance Day (UK and Canada)
  • Sundae Day
  • Veterans Day (US)
  • Washington statehood 1889
  • World War 1 ended 1918
  • Young Reader’s Day *(2nd Tues.)
  • World Kindness Week begins *

Nov. 12

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul Day
  • 1st Flying Trapeze Act performed 1859
  • Pizza with Everything Day (Except Anchovies)
  • Author Marjorie K. Rawlings born 1896
  • Sculptor Auguste Rodin born 1849
  • Suffragist/Reformer Elizabeth Stanton born 1815

Nov. 13

  • Indian Pudding Day
  • Physicist James Maxwell born 1831
  • Author Robert Lewis Stevenson born 1850
  • Vietnam Memorial dedicated 1982
  • World Kindness Day

Nov. 14

  • Inventor Robert Fulton born 1765
  • International Girls Day
  • Loosen Up – Lighten Up Day
  • Artist Claude Monet born 1840
  • Pickle Day
  • Spicy Guacamole Day
  • Teddy Bear Day
  • World Diabetes Day

Nov. 15

  • America Recycles Day
  • Bundt Pan Day
  • Children’s Book Week begins *(3rd week)
  • Clean Your Refrigerator Day
  • Steve Irwin Day
  • Artist Georgia O’Keefe born 1887
  • Love To Write Day
  • Philanthropy Day

Nov. 16

  • American Education Week begins *
  • Button Day
  • Fast Food Day
  • Geography Awareness Week *(3rd full week)
  • International Day for Tolerance
  • Oklahoma statehood 1907

Nov. 17

  • Baklava Day
  • Elizabeth 1 Crowned Queen of England 1588
  • Entrepreneurship Week begins
  • Explorers Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean 1805
  • Guinness World Record Day
  • Homemade Bread Day
  • Scientist August Mobius born 1790
  • Suez Canal completed 1869
  • Take A Hike Day
  • World Peace Day

Nov. 18

  • Last Pony Express Delivery 1861
  • Mickey Mouse debut 1928
  • Occult Day

Nov. 19

  • Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day
  • Evangelist Billy Sunday born 1935
  • Explorer George Rogers Clark born 1752
  • President James Garfield born 1831
  • GSI Day (geographic information systems) *(3rd Wed.)
  • Have a Bad Day Day
  • Gettysburg Address 1863
  • World Toilet Day

Nov. 20

  • Absurdity Day
  • Beautiful Day
  • Great American Smoke Out *(3rd Thurs.)
  • Astronomer Edwin Hubble born 1889
  • Name Your PC Day
  • Peanut Butter Fudge Day
  • Universal Children’s Day
  • Use Less Stuff Day *(3rd Thurs.)

Nov. 21

  • Farm-City Week begins *
  • False Confession Day
  • Gingerbread Day
  • First Hot Air Balloon Flight 1763
  • North Carolina statehood 1789
  • Author Voltaire born 1694
  • World Hello Day
  • World TV Day

Nov. 22

  • Adoption Day *(Sat. before US Thanksgiving)
  • Church/State Separation Week begins
  • Composser Hoagie Carmichael born 1899
  • Go For a Ride Day
  • Hailey’s Comet discovered 1682
  • Humane Society founded 1954
  • President John F. Kennedy assassinated 1963
  • Start Your Own Country Day

Nov. 23

  • Aura Awareness Day
  • Bible Week begins *(Sun. before US Thanksgiving)
  • Outlaw William H. Bonney (Billy the Kid) born 1859
  • Cashew Day
  • Eat a Cranberry Day
  • Espresso Day
  • Game and Puzzle Week begins *
  • Dr. Who Day (1st premiered 1963)
  • Fibonacci Day
  • Pencil Sharpener patented 1897
  • President Franklin Pierce born 1804

Nov. 24

  • Barbed Wire patented 1874
  • Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day
  • Darwin’s Origin of the Species published 1859
  • Composer Scott Joplin born 1868
  • President Zachary Taylor born 1784

Nov. 25

  • Aurthor/Illustrator Marc Brown born 1946
  • Author PD Eastman born 1909
  • Parfait Day
  • Woody Woodpecker debut 1940

Nov. 26

  • Cartoonist Charles Schulz born 1922
  • Casablanca (movie) premiered 1942
  •  Shopping Reminder Day *(Day before Thanksgiving – US)

Nov. 27

  • Bavarian Cream Pie Day
  • Scientist Anders Celsius born 1701
  • Evangelist Luis Palau born 1934
  • Pins and Needles Day
  • Ringling Brothers 1st Performance 1882
  • Thanksgiving (US) *(4th Thurs.)

Nov. 28

  • Black Friday (US) *(day after US Thanksgiving)
  • Day of Listening *(day after US Thanksgiving)
  • French Toast Day
  • Native American Heritage Day *
  • Red Planet Day

Nov. 29

  • Author Louisa May Alcott born 1832
  • Chocolates Day
  • Electronic Greetings Day
  • Lemon Creme Pie Day
  • Author CS Lewis born 1898
  • Small Business Saturday (Sat. after US Thanksgiving)
  • Throw Out Your Leftovers Day

Nov. 30

  • Advent begins *
  • Winston Churchill born 1874
  • Author Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) born 1835
  • Computer Security Day
  • Mousse Day
  • St. Andrew’s Day
  • Stay Home Because You’re Well Day

I make my monthly special days calendars by using several sources including old calendars, holiday books, newspapers, and the web. If you know of a special day that I do not have listed, please comment and let me know what it is so I can add it in. Below are the links to my favorite online calendars.

Happy November,

betty jo