Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Feasting on Learning

 One might question how much learning is involved in planning, making, and participating in a Thanksgiving feast.  So let me tell you where this saga began....
      It began about a month ago in life skills class. We were studying nutrition. We spent several days discussing the importance of proper nutrition and fitness. Soon after, again in Life Skills class, we read a passage about the proper way to set a table and then we practiced how to do this. With the holidays soon approaching, I thought "  great would it be if we could plan a feast and in the process learn how to plan a meal, budget for it, shop for it, cook it using the proper units of capacity and learn how to read the directions, learn table manners, and incorporate a history lesson in it by studying the Mayflower voyage and First Thanksgiving?" After all, the Plymouth Colony  and the Mayflower Voyage are part of the unit of study in the social studies curriculum. There are two things I love in planning sound lessons: first, cross-curricular studies and second, hands on learning to make the learning memorable. With this thought and sound lessons in mind, our feast was in motion! Science even came into play because we did a unit on weather and coincidentally, the Mayflower was originally headed for Jamestown, Virginia but a storm filled the Mayflower's sails with wind tossing it off course sending the Pilgrims to Cape Cod, 150 miles off track!
    Over the next couple of weeks during life skills we prepared for our feast. We collected recipes, we read them. We practiced capacity and fractions by using measuring cups and spoons.  We read over the flyers from Shaws Supermarket to plan our grocery lists. We used calculators to add the prices of items we wanted to purchase. We estimated how much money we thought we would need. In Social studies class we compared a modern thanksgiving feast to the first thanksgiving feast to see how it has changed. Did you know that since eels were abundant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Pilgrims Pilgrims and the Wampanoag ate cooked eels at the first thanksgiving! My students decided that they did not want eels on our menu! Like the pilgrims we decided to invite another group to our feast. In all we had 18 students and 6 adults.
   Finally the big day came! We went on our field trip to the super market. We divided the list into four groups insuring that each group had to get items from every department. Everyone had a job! When we were finished we met at the checkout to pay for and bag our groceries. We bought one frivolous item...tootsie pops to celebrate our excellent skill at grocery shopping!
   Over the next two days we cooked. We went to our classes but still made time for preparing our feast. Everyone from both classrooms helped. We chopped, peeled, boiled, and baked! We learned how to put our measuring skills to use. We fluted homemade pies, peeled hard boiled eggs, and chopped onions and celery for Mrs.F's delicious stuffing!  Mrs.G. wowed us with her homemade cranberry sauce recipe made by the students. Mrs. A almost wowed us with homemade chocolate mousse pies made with a student;'s Mom's recipe!

   The feast was awesome. We teased the students and teachers in our school as the aroma from our turkey roasting permeated throughout our school! We were proud of all we had accomplished! We left school with a great appreciation of all of the skills that are needed to prepare a proper feast and with very full bellies! Just so you know, Mrs. A's pies were good and appreciated, but the student honestly admitted that his mom's were better. This is always as it should be, nobody can cook better than Mom! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Educator Links:
Indian Country

The First Thanksgiving

Parent Links:

"Holiday Tips" for your Family member Impacted by Autism

How Do I Get My Kid Motivated For School?

Mitt Aubin's Book Review:

     I am currently using the book, "You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long" by Peter Cook, along with the students text book and "If You Sailed on the Mayflower" by Ann McGovern.  I love using picture books that have accurate historical content along with the student's textbook to give the students a more complete picture of what it was like during the time period we are studying. My student's really enjoyed the picture of the Mayflower with the  cutout that shows them exactly how crowded the Mayflower was. The Mayflower was not a passenger ship, but was a cargo ship, which made the Pilgrim's journey very uncomfortable. Amazingly during the 66 day voyage only one person died, young William Butten, the surgeon's helper. He died only three days before the Pilgrim's made landfall. One child was born on the voyage, Oceanus Hopkins. Cook's text gives the student's details of the Mayflower voyage and their first days in Plymouth that are not mentioned in their textbook. Also included is a vocabulary section and tools used by early navigators, and a time line. My student's were able to take a picture of the timeline with their chromebooks and then print it out for perfect note taking! Cook's book is a great companion to go along with a unit of study on the Plymouth Colony and the Mayflower voyage.

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