Today I gave my first lesson in my class at South Coogee School. Since the students are learning about different types of celebrations, my teacher asked me to teach about American Thanksgiving. I spent time discussing with my CT what aspects of Thanksgiving she would like me to teach about. She said she would like to hear about a basic history of the holiday, as well as any symbols and traditions that go along with the holiday. Since these students have no prior knowledge of Thanksgiving, I had to keep all of my information simple and interesting.
To begin my lesson, I asked the students to go around and say something they are thankful for. I felt this was a good way to introduce the first-graders to the main theme of Thanksgiving: giving thanks. Most of the students said they were thankful for their families and friends. A few students even said they were thankful for their school! After this opening activity, I showed a PowerPoint presentation with a few slides discussing the Pilgrims and Native Americans. I used maps and pictures to illustrate what I was talking about. I also did a slide that had Thanksgiving symbols, such as a turkey and a pilgrim hat. I asked a few students to tell me what they thought the meaning of each symbol was. I was impressed with the knowledge the students had gained during my presentation. To close my presentation, I showed them a video clip of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. I thought this was a good way to connect the history of Thanksgiving to the present day celebration. The students loved the video! The variety of visuals/activities during my presentation held their attention.
After the presentation, I showed the students how to make hand turkeys. They all traced and cut out their handprints. The students then glued feathers onto their hand turkeys and colored them. Once everyone finished their hand turkeys, my CT and I glued the turkeys on a poster that said “Happy Thanksgiving.” The poster is now displayed proudly outside our classroom! To close a successful lesson, my CT brought in apple pie to share with the class. I explained to the students that apple pie is a common autumn food (I also explained that the seasons in the U.S. are opposite the seasons in Australia) in the United States and that many people eat apple pie at Thanksgiving.
Overall, I really enjoyed teaching my lesson. The students responded wonderfully to a holiday they had never heard of before. My CT told me that most Australians only know about Thanksgiving from watching American movies so she enjoyed learning about the holiday from me. The students were interested in hearing about my own Thanksgiving traditions with my family. This lesson was a great way to share my own culture with my Australian students!