What does your family do for Thanksgiving? What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was held in 1924. Do you think the parade would still be around if Anthony Frederick Sarg hadn't introduced the giant inflatable balloons? Why or why not?
According to the article, Anthony Frederick Sarg may have been inspired by a collection of mechanical toys he received from his grandmother. Have you ever received a gift that inspired you? If so, what was it? What did it inspire you to do?
What do you think was the inspiration for the first Macy's parade-celebrating the holidays or increasing sales? What do you think is the main purpose of the parade now? Support your opinion.
- Display the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade site. Have students explore the parade's history all the way back to the 1920s. Instruct students to pay special attention to the evolution of balloons in the parade. You can do this as a class. Or, you may wish to divide the class into small groups. Assign one decade to each group and have the groups deliver a brief summary sharing what they learned.
- As a class, discuss trends in the types of balloons created for the parade. Encourage students to identify their favorite balloons and explain why they like them.
- Tell students to imagine that they are in charge of creating a new balloon for this year's parade. Give students time to brainstorm ideas and create a balloon of their own.
Invite students to share their balloons with the class. Instruct them to identify the subject that inspired their balloons and explain why they chose it. Encourage them to identify their favorite parts in their balloon designs.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Give each student a piece of plain white paper and access to drawing supplies. Instruct students to come up with ideas and draw pictures of their balloons. Remind them to draw ropes for people to hold onto so the balloons don't fly away!
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to come up with an idea for a balloon. Then give each pair a balloon and provide access to newspapers, glue or paper mâché paste, paintbrushes, paint and other art supplies. Challenge them to make a paper mâché model of their balloon.
Divide the class into small groups. Be sure to include at least one student in each group who is proficient at graphic design. Instruct each group to select a subject for their balloon. Challenge them to create a digital model of their design. Have students not directly involved in the digital work conduct research to learn more about the design and construction of balloons featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Divide the class into small groups. Be sure to include two or more students in each group who are proficient at graphic design. Instruct each group to select a subject for their balloon. Challenge them to create an animated model of their design. Have students not directly involved in the animation conduct research to learn more about the design and construction of balloons featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Challenge them to calculate how many people it would take to handle a real-life version of their balloon in the parade.
Watch this Smithsonian Channel “Aerial America” clip to learn about the first pilgrims and how a surprise visit from the Wampanoag tribe led to the very first Thanksgiving.
In this Smithsonian article, you can take a closer look at where the staples of the holiday dinner originate—from farms across the country, both large and small.
Invite students to partake in this fun, award-winning activity from the National Museum of American History. Students take on the role of a “history detective” to investigate what really happened at the famous 1621 celebration.
Use this guide from the National Museum of the American Indian to help students explore the Thanksgiving holiday from the Native American point of view.
Invite students to listen to the songs on this Smithsonian Folkways collection. The tunes come from many different genres of music and explore the themes of thanks, homecoming and food.
The Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving Feast of 1621 wasn’t the first festival of its kind in North America. Have students read this Encyclopedia Smithsonian article to learn what was happening long before the Pilgrims stepped foot on the continent.