Thanksgiving in the Car, by Mrs. Warde


Every other year my father’s side of the family gets together for Thanksgiving. On those years we drive a full day’s journey there, spend the holiday with more than seventy family members, and drive a full day’s journey back home. No time to learn anything about the origins of Thanksgiving. There are a lot of ideas and lesson plans out on the Internet for learning about Thanksgiving at home, but not many for learning about it while in the car. Which is probably where half of families with kids are. So here’s my idea of teaching about Thanksgiving in the car (or plane)!

When planning a “car lesson” I try to consider how to give information, talk about it, ask for some form of output from the student, playing with the topic, and relate to it.

Give information: There are a lot of resources out there. If you already have a favorite book or movie to share, do that. We have just a few simple “First Thanksgiving” books including Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Diane Stanley, and one of my favorites, Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters. If you have a tablet and can access the Internet in the car, Scholastic has some neat video tours and slide shows with historical reinactors. Be sure to include this fact: Thanksgiving, according to Holidays Around the Year, was made a National Holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln.

Projects for output need to be simple because cutting and gluing in the car is not ideal! So I recommend making a Thanksgiving Activity Book from things you can print out from the Internet. Staple it together like a book and you won’t have to worry about papers all over the place. Pages to print out for various ages can be found at Blessed Beyond a Doubt, DLTK, and 3 Dinosaurs. I recommend at least one blank page or a draw-and-write page. Also, put a blank page in for the classic hand-traced turkey. This activity book can be as quick or as long as you think your kids would want.

Talk about it: You know your kids best. And who knows what questions they might surprise you with?

Play with it: This would have to be prepared ahead of time, but I think a fun idea would be for the children to color Popsicle stick puppets to act out what they’re learning. Incorporating what he knows into play helps my kinetic learner cement the information in his head. When my four-year-old joins in the play I can tell that he was listening.

Relate to it: Popcorn snack! This can be prepared ahead of time and keeps very well, especially if it’s authentically served without butter. Also, you’re traveling like the Pilgrims did, in a similar amount of personal space. You can talk about what it would be like to travel for several months in such cramped conditions. What about motion sickness, for example? When you get to your destination you’ll be dependent on your hosts for the Thanksgiving meal, just like the Pilgrims needed help from the Wampanoag to find food. And of course, you can always talk with your children about the things in your life for which you are all thankful.

This lesson plan can be adapted in length and depth to suit your own family’s needs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. Warde is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three and a Pinterest addict. She has too many craft projects started to mention, though very few are ever finished. She blogs mostly about homeschooling and sometimes about preemie issues over at

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