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

Thanksgiving Radio Show 1935

Jack Benny Thanksgiving Radio Show 1939


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


That 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

Armed Forces Radio Thanksgiving Show 1944

And with that fantastic swing music, some Charleston and Swing Dance instructions may be in order!




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

Hopefully our appetites will still exist after this science study!  We have a lot of cooking and eating to do!

I wish you happy learning this Thanksgiving!

betty jo


7 thoughts on “Thanksgiving – Been There, Done That

  1. irini112014

    You seem to have left out the history part where FDR changed the date of Thanksgiving from October to November, or did I miss that in the list? This is a great resource though! Sorry you feel grumpy.

    1. Betty Jo Post author

      Hmmm. I’ll do a little research about that. I do have a link that tells of the “early” Thanksgiving when it was moved up a week. They called it “Franksgiving”. It’s also mentioned in a couple of the articles. Seems to have caused quite a stink. And the grumpy feeling is just about over now. Thanks!

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