What kind of special magic does this book hold? There's always some kind of magic when Jack and Annie climb into the tree house in the woods. Students will learn about the history of the Thanksgiving holiday while following the adventure.
Let the Magic Begin!
These books are great to use in the classroom because they allow the students to experience other places and times beyond their small world. Choose to read the book to your students, have students read sections aloud or use multiple copies of the book as a whole class or in small reading groups.
Prepare them prior to reading #27 in The Magic Tree House (Thanksgiving on Thursday) series by showing them a map of the route the Mayflower took from England. Then, as the book begins, have them listen for answers to the following questions:
- Where were the Pilgrims supposed to land?
- What caused them to land in Plymouth?
- What kinds of things were taken on the Mayflower?
- The last question should prompt lively discussion as the students discuss traveling with chickens, geese, goats and sheep. What would it sound like? What would it smell like?
As an activity using Thanksgiving on Thursday vocabulary ask the students to listen for the words Jack and Annie used that the Pilgrims
didn't understand. Some of these are: "Wow", "Nuts", "Oh, brother" and "Sure". Ask the students to brainstorm for other words that would be unfamiliar to the Pilgrims (cool, awesome, super, and sweet for example).
Before reading chapter five ask the children to write down the chores that they have to do at home. For this part of the activities, list the jobs the Pilgrim children had to do. Discuss how the students' chores are different than those of the Pilgrim children. Who has the harder job?
Squanto showed the Pilgrims how to catch eels and clams. What happened when Jack and Annie tried to catch them?
Learning New Words!
We continue the activities in chapters six and seven. Write these seven words on the board: hearth, rafters, herbs, roots, turkey on a spit and exercising arms. Ask the students to listen for the words as the book is read. Then have them fold a 12"x18" piece of white (or lightly colored) construction paper in half, then half again, then half again to form eight squares on the paper. In one square the student neatly writes his/her name. Then in each square write one of the words on the board. Next draw and color pictures showing what the word means. A Pictionary!
The Wonder of Community
Morgan, the magical librarian of Camelot, leaves a riddle for Jack and Annie to solve:
"To find a special magic,
When work and toil are done,
Gather all together,
Turn three worlds into one."
At the feast Governor Bradford says," At this moment, three worlds--your world (Jack and Annie's), our world (the Pilgrims) and the world of the Wampanoag (the Indians) are not three. They are one. 'Tis the magic of community."
For the final project, the students in your classroom should discuss the meaning of community in their world. How can they make it better? Suggestions include: clean up the school playground, help a neighbor, write thank you notes, do extra chores at home, or have a holiday food drive.
What's That Machine?
Jack and Annie learn how much harder certain chores were in the time of the Pilgrims. As a homework assignment for The Magic Tree House activities, students should:
Look around their home, school or neighborhood for an item that makes life easier (a telephone, car, microwave, vacuum cleaner, refrigerator, computer, television, etc.) Imagine trying to explain the item to a Pilgrim! Write a paragraph about the item without using the name of the item--as if you were trying to describe it to a Pilgrim. Students take turns in front of the class to read their paragraphs and have the class guess what the item is.
The Magic of It All
With these Magic Tree House activities for the book Thanksgiving on Thursday your students will have learned the history of Thanksgiving, new vocabulary, a have reason to be thankful for what they have and the magic of community!
Pilgrim Hall Museum (includes Mayflower image, royalty-free use)
Image Source: amazon.com, Osborne, M.P., Thanksgiving on Thursday. Random House Inc., 2002.