The First Thanksgiving

In 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for a new land and a new life on a ship named the Mayflower. They named the new land they found "New England". Then they began to prepare for the winter ahead. However, the winter proved to be very difficult and many of the Pilgrims grew ill and died.

At that time the Pilgrims were still unfamiliar with the native people of the area. Fearful of the Native Americans the Pilgrims buried their dead at night so that the number of dead would be harder to determine.

It wasn’t until later that the Pilgrims grew friendly with the American Indians. A native named Samoset greeted the Pilgrims one day. Able to speak some English, Samoset introduced the Pilgrims to another Native American, Squanto. As the relationship between the American Indians and the Pilgrims improved the Indians taught the Pilgrims methods of hunting, fishing, farming, and gathering food.

When harvest time arrived the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated the first Thanksgiving together. Venison, wild duck, corn, popcorn, and cranberries were a few of the foods they shared. They also participated in shooting games. But the focus of the celebration was their grateful attitudes for the bountiful harvest of the year.

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is the most widely observed holiday in the United States. Families today celebrate it in a variety of ways. However most people share this time with family members and enjoy a large feast.

The feast usually centers around a turkey. Cranberry relish, stuffing, potatoes, pumpkin pie, and corn bread may also be served. Sometimes special family recipes are passed down for generations.

Cornucopias filled with nuts, fruits, and vegetables may decorate the table. Parades and football games are also part of many family traditions and some people sing songs, decorate with corn stalks, light candles, and send cards.

However, no matter what the agenda for the day may be, or what is served for eating, or who the day is shared with, most people take a few moments to think about the things that they feel truly thankful for; family, friends, food, or good health and many offer a blessing or grace before partaking in the Thanksgiving feast.

Interesting Facts


These three crafts use different parts of a corn plant, the husks, the kernels, and the cobs. The craft, Nature’s Necklace, uses Indian corn. Although the other two activities can be made from any type of corn, if you make a necklace, save the cob and the husks for the other crafts.

Corn Husk Doll

This doll makes an interesting center piece for the Thanksgiving table.

You will need:

To work with the dried corn husks, soak them in the warm water for about half an hour before you begin, to make them easier to shape.

Select several large strong husks and fold them in half. Tie a piece of string near the fold to make a head for your doll. To create arms, place several smaller husks between the ends and perpendicular to the large husks. Slide the arms up to the string at the base of the head. Use another piece of string to tie a waist on the large husks just below the arms.

Now use two pieces of string to tie off each end of the smaller husks to create hands for your doll. If your doll is wearing a dress fluff the ends of the large husks. If you prefer your doll in pants, split the end of the large husks just under the waist to form two legs. Tie off the bottom of each leg to create feet.

Allow your doll to dry thoroughly. Once it is dry use the markers, fabric scraps, buttons, and other items to make a face and clothing for your doll.

Try creating some dolls shaped like animals too.

Nature’s Necklace

This activity requires soaking the kernels overnight.

You will need:

If you intend to make a corn husk doll first remove the husks from the cob. Next remove the kernels from the cob by starting at the thickest end of the cob. Use your thumbs to push the kernels up and out of the cob. The first few are usually the hardest to remove.

As the kernels are removed, place them in the bowl of water to soak. Leave them in the water over night. The next day pour the water from the bowl leaving just the kernels.

Measure a length of embroidery floss long enough to make a necklace that easily slips over your head, be sure to include an inch or two for tying the necklace. Now double the length of the floss and cut it. Thread the embroidery floss through the needle and double it, knotting it at the free end.

Select the kernels you desire for your necklace and carefully thread each kernel onto the floss. Slide the kernels down to within an inch of the knotted end. Thread as many kernels as will fit onto the floss leaving one inch free of kernels near the needle.

Cut the floss off the needle and tie the two ends of your necklace together. Allow it to dry before wearing it.

A Bird Cob Feeder

You will need:

Use the table knife to spread the corn cob with peanut butter. Roll the coated cob in the birdseed, sprinkle it on, or place the cob into a bag with bird seed and shake.

Push the large nail into the thick end of the cob. Tie a string to the head of the nail and then dangle your bird cob feeder from a tree branch.

Books for Children


Related Subjects

Read our biographies of Michael Naranjo, Sacagawea, and Sitting Bull to learn about some famous Native Americans and their cultures.

Learn the characteristics and habits of the wild turkey.

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