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The Truth about Thanksgiving - Coloring Book

School: Alice B. Beal Elementary

City/State: Springfield, MA

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Children's book: Coloring

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

3rd grade students at the Alice B. Beal Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts, created this coloring book as part of a Learning Expedition on the “real story” behind Thanksgiving. A case study investigation, this Learning Expedition focused on “what really happened” at the first Thanksgiving, using multiple perspectives from varied texts and local experts to dispel myths and provide a more accurate portrayal.

Students researched many aspects of Pilgrim and Wampanoag culture through primary sources, books about the first Thanksgiving, related websites, and field work during a trip to Plimoth Plantation.

This coloring book includes line drawings and multi-sentence paragraphs in which students depict their knowledge of people, events and interactions between the two cultural groups. The book also became part of a service project: baskets of food were made by a local organization for families-in-need at Thanksgiving; the book was included as a gift for each family. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a history expedition in which students attempt to uncover something – not just tell the same story that’s been told – giving students a sense of mission
  • Shows a high level of skillful writing by 3rd graders
  • Shows the wide range of the type of information students gathered and analyzed
  • A creative and effective format to address and deepen content required in state curriculum frameworks and district science requirements
  • A useful format for showing students’ knowledge of both historical and cultural information
  • An example of a product with an authentic audience and a service component

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can accurately synthesize information from two texts on the same topic.
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use the writing process to plan, revise and edit my writing.
  • I can choose evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can accurately use 3rd grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
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