“We discuss how the Indians have their own reservations now and why. They know the land was not uninhabited when the Pilgrims arrived,” Cole said. “I want them to have an understanding of the history — nothing scary, just informative.”
Lessons involve both stories and activities. One special day each year is set aside for “Thanksgiving” activities. Students make beaded necklaces, paper headbands, cornbread pancakes and Thanksgiving trees. They also churn homemade butter.
“Before we do the activities there is a lesson on Pilgrim children. We compare and contrast how they lived long ago, compared to how we live today,” Cole said.
Activities like churning butter help connect the past and present for the young students. The meaning of Thanksgiving is understood through verbal exercises. Each child shared who and what they enjoyed having in their life.
“I put it into a perspective they will understand. They answer what do we have that we can be thankful for in our lives,” Cole said. “We also talk about what we can do for other people who may not have what they need.”
Conversation broke out over how students could help others. The lessons stuck with the young kindergarteners.
“I am thankful for having schools and food. Some people do not have enough to eat,” said Reagan McKinley.
Reagan’s fellow students jumped on board the “Thankful Train.”
“I’m thankful for God making us have bowling alleys because they are fun,” said Harrison Montgomery.
Hadleigh Leddon looked a little closer to home for her response.
“I’m thankful for my brother,” Hadleigh said of her young sibling, “and for my dog, who died a long time ago.”
Cole’s students merrily continue their various activities from one station to another. Random bits of conversation carry over from the tables.
“You just need a little dabbadoo and — and that will do,” said Carter Mills while gluing his Thanksgiving tree.
Volunteer Jennifer Streun added, “We have also heard, ‘Slow and steady wins the race.’”
Students share their various Thanksgiving traditions while constructing crafts.
“At my grandma’s house, we make Thanksgiving cake with strawberries. It is delicious,” said Brandon Jacinto.
Added Shayban Newman excitedly, “You get to eat turkey and you have your own dessert and you get to play with your friends.”
Favorite Thanksgiving foods of the class included chicken, pancakes and maple syrup, turkey, pumpkin pie, French fries, popcorn, and apple pie.
Imaginations were in full swing during the discussion on food.
“My favorite part of Thanksgiving is we get to have some fun and we get to eat turkey cake,” said Brodie Humphries. “I haven’t had it before, but it sounds good.”
Cole said this year’s Thanksgiving lessons and activities were a success.
“This is a great group of kindergarten students. They are so wonderful and sweet. They are always ready to learn,” Cole said. “This is an absolutely precious, precious class. To be able to say that is the best. I talk about them all the time.”