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Americanism        < Previous        Next >


Thanksgiving Pageant


Today's Snack: The best part of a Thanksgiving pageant is that, at the end, you get to sit down and FEAST! Notice the food that you will be preparing and enjoying in the After School Treat below.






Large piece of cardboard, as from a refrigerator box (ask at an appliance store)


Tempera paint and brush, or markers


Plain brown paper grocery sacks


Feathers, beads, twine, other decorations


Hot-glue gun


Face paint




Fabric scraps for Pilgrim's shawls, shirts


Construction paper and tape for shoe, belt buckles


Construction paper Pilgrim's hats and bonnets


Toy fish or construction paper fish


Kernels of dry corn (borrow from the squirrel feeder supplies, or extract kernels from an ear of decorative Indian corn)


Props to illustrate Pilgrim children's chores (see "script," below;

A CLEAN toilet brush with base can be covered with a cut-up brown paper sack to look like and operate like a churn . . . if there are dry pine needles in a park near your home, you could gather a pillowcase full to demonstrate mattress-stuffing)


Shells for eating utensils, or kid-sized tableware


Make the first Thanksgiving "feast" as simple or elaborate as you'd like:

Kids can either pretend they are eating OR you can serve

turkey meat, corn muffins, carrots and grapes, which are all probably accurate



You can help put on a Thanksgiving play with the kids in your after-school group, or the kids in your family, or volunteer to help the local preschool, your church's Sunday School, or anywhere else there are people who would enjoy revisiting what happened that historic first Thanksgiving in America, and young children ready to start learning about it.


The most elaborate prop might be to draw or paint a Mayflower ship out of large piece of cardboard, such as a refrigerator box. You could have the kids stand (carefully) on stools so that just their heads or the top half of their bodies shows behind the "ship," and then adults can move the cardboard up and down as if it is rocking and rolling on ocean waves.


You can turn it around and on the other side, have a Pilgrim cabin with fort fencing around it for a scene change.


You can make simple costumes that children will enjoy wearing:





They can act it out while you narrate a little informal script. You could say something like this:


The first Thanksgiving in America was in the fall of 1621. It lasted three days. The people ate, drank and played games. The point was to thank God for the harvest and all His blessings. There were 52 colonists who came over here on the Mayflower, a ship from England, and 90 Native Americans from the Wampanoag tribe, who were hunters and farmers and lived in wigwams made of trees.


The Indians were kind to teach the colonists how to plant corn so that it would be fertilized and grow taller sooner. They would dig a hole and place a kernel of corn with a small chunk of fish (actors can demonstrate), and as the fish rotted, it provided good fertilizer to make the corn grow. So they got lots of corn to eat during the long winter, and that was great!


Pilgrim kids had a lot of important chores to do to help the settlement. (Actors can demonstrate with props you've gathered in advance) Boys would help build houses, hunt for food, gather wood for fires, and make wooden pegs that were used as nails. Girls helped cook and serve meals, washed clothes, made soap and candles, churned butter, shelled dry corn, and made mattresses out of pine needles, feathers or cornhusks.


But the Thanksgiving feast was a time to enjoy what all that hard work had brought them, to think about past blessings and look forward to future ones.


Now, they couldn't go to the grocery store, like we do, to get the food. There WEREN'T any grocery stores back then. If you wanted food, you had to grow it yourself, on your farm.


So, after a whole spring, summer and fall of farming, they had brought in enough food to last the long winter. And to celebrate, they prepared a feast - a big meal.


(Children can pretend to cook and eat, or actually put morsels on plates and in cups. But remember to pray BEFORE you eat!)


They prayed to God together, thanking Him for their harvest and their many blessings. They enjoyed the big feast (actors demonstrate). And they played games (actors could demonstrate ring around the rosie or other games) and had a lot of fun.


So, yes, a lot of work went in to America's beginning . . . but isn't it fun that America started off with a PARTY, and we still party today, with Thanksgiving?!?


By Susan Darst Williams Americanism 04 2008




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