What do you think happens to Thanksgiving turkeys after they receive a presidential pardon?
After so many years of presidential pardons for Thanksgiving turkeys, how do you think people would react if a president decided to eat the turkey instead?
According to the article, the tradition of pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys began with Tad Lincoln. Tad would have been about 10 years old at the time. Are you surprised that this tradition began with a child? Why or why not?
"Pardoning" a Thanksgiving turkey has become, what some might consider to be, a fun Thanksgiving tradition for the president. But a true presidential pardon is an important matter. Do you think the presidential pardon should be represented in such a light-hearted way? Why or why not?
- Create a sign that features the phrase, "It is better to give than to receive." As a class, discuss what this phrase means. Encourage students to share their opinions about how the phrase relates to the article. (Possible response: Yes, the turkey got to live, but both Abraham Lincoln and his son, Tad, gained a lot from this experience, too. Tad argued for his principles and won. President Lincoln made his son happy, which was extremely important to him.)
- Guide students to recognize that people don't just give things. They give their time. They give advice. They give whatever they can to make other people's lives better. In doing so, they enrich their own lives. That is what Thanksgiving is all about.
- Instruct students to take out a sheet of paper. Challenge them to list ways they could help others. If students struggle to come up with ideas, encourage them to think about their talents and interests. Guide them to recognize that giving back doesn't have to be something grand, like collecting food for hurricane victims. It could be as simple as helping a classmate understand how to solve a confusing math problem.
- Using their lists of talents and interests as a guide, challenge students to identify ways they could help the school, community or other students in the classroom. Then instruct them to create a plan outlining how and when they will carry out their ideas.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
This interactive website from the Plimoth Plantation, a Smithsonian affiliate, focuses on clarifying fact and fiction surrounding the “First Thanksgiving.” Students use audio, images of artifacts and a glossary to answer questions and explore the lives of the Wampanoag and English settlers and their interactions.
This teaching poster, designed for educators and students grades 4–8, examines the deeper meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday for American Indians through the themes of environment, community, encounters and innovations. Appropriate for use at any time during the year, the poster includes information that is essential to understanding and teaching about American Indians along with compelling images and ideas for classroom activities.
This historical investigation from the Smithsonian’s History Explorer invites students to explore one of the best-known stories in American history—the interaction between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags that included the first Thanksgiving.
The first pilgrims who settled in Plymouth suffered a brutal winter, facing disease and exposure in a new land. Watch this Smithsonian Channel video to learn how a visit from members of the Wampanoag tribe the next spring would result in an enduring American holiday.
The Smithsonian has a wide array of art and objects devoted to Thanksgiving and the spirit of giving thanks. Visit this site to read Washington’s proclamation on Thanksgiving, learn how Thanksgiving became a national holiday, view the day from the American Indian perspective and learn about Thanksgiving food origins.
Thanksgiving celebrates the blessings that we all share. In this spirit, “Thanksgiving from Smithsonian Folkways” explores the themes of thanks, homecoming and family.
In this lesson plan from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students design a sign that fosters positive human interactions. To determine the tone of message, they evaluate public messages. Then they experiment with different texts and colors before creating the final product.
When bad things happen, community helpers are there to keep people safe. In this activity from the Smithsonian’s History explorer, children and adults will learn more about a first responder or group of first responders in their community. They will then design and create a certificate to honor that individual or group.