Thanksgiving may be best known for its bountiful tables and emphasis on giving thanks, but there's a rich and detailed history behind this distinctly American holiday. Introducing our kids to the story of the First Thanksgiving is a great way to help them better understand why we celebrate each November, but sometimes, parents are a little fuzzy on the details too.

You can teach your kids a lot about the First Thanksgiving — and probably learn a thing or two yourself in the process.

Take Advantage of Online Resources

  • Explore the 17th century customs of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag with the "Colonial Customs" lesson plan at The ideas are designed for classrooms, but can easily be tweaked to do at home.
  • Prefer an interactive approach to learning? Check out Plimoth Plantation's Thanksgiving Interactive, where kids can take on the role of history detectives to determine what really happened back in 1621.
  • "A First Thanksgiving Activity" at allows learners to view an educational slide show, and then takes them on a "fact-finding mission" to answer multiple choice questions with their newly acquired knowledge.

Explore Early Native American Life

Many First Thanksgiving resources focus on the Pilgrims, reducing Native Americans to a secondary role. But that's not necessarily the way things were.

Enjoy Books and Movies About the First Thanksgiving

Cook Authentic First Thanksgiving Foods

In addition to turkey and cranberry sauce, add a few more authentic foods from the First Thanksgiving to your menu this year.

  • The Foods They Really Ate at the First Thanksgiving offers an eye-opening look at dishes that would have been served back in 1621. Make a few of the recipes and encourage your kids to take a bite.
  • Kiwi Magazine also offers up plenty of information about the foods of the First Thanksgiving. Try making some Double Corn Cheese Grits as a more traditional alternative to mashed potatoes.

Do you teach your kids about the First Thanksgiving? What do you think it's important for them to know?