Kindergarten, COVID, and Cocktails

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Life as a Wampanoag

Posted by Josie on November 10, 2020 at 2:00 PM Comments comments ()

We talked about Native Americans, pilgrims, and the first Thanksgiving... which can be a controversial topic!


Is it possible to teach littles about the first Thanksgiving while also teaching them about the betrayal the Native Americans felt when the English started taking over land that wasn’t theirs? Sure. Of course.


In short, what I choose to explain is that the English came to America incredibly unprepared. Fortunately, they were helped by Squanto, a Native American who had learned English after being kidnapped when he was younger. Squanto taught them how to fish and grow crops like corn and squash, among other survival skills. Thanks to Squanto and the Wampanoag tribe, the English learned how to survive the harsh New England winters.


Unfortunately, when the English arrived in America, they brought diseases that devastated the Native Americans. They also displaced the natives, which caused great tension and their ultimate falling out.


Do I continue on to the bloodshed part of the story? No.


Why? Because these two little ladies are 5 and almost 4, they have plenty of time to learn about the darker side of history later. For now, we will focus on how the English needed the Wampanoags, and how they had one celebratory event (which has turned into the Thanksgiving we all know today), but ultimately they didn’t stay friendly because the English continued to steal more and more land from the Native Americans. Added bonus, if you live in New England, this is a great lesson to teach them about local history! (And if you aren't from New England, this is a perfect opportunity to look into tribes more local to you. Always something for everyone!) 


After finishing our “Life as a Wampanoag” booklets, we tried some paper basket weaving while talking about how the Native Americans didn’t have places like Home Goods or Target to buy baskets so they could carry the food they harvested. You should have seen their disbelief! “No Target?!?! ��” ��


I hope everyone takes the time to teach their littles about the history of Thanksgiving, while also being careful not to romanticize it too much because history is only history when it’s true!