Grade Levels: K-3

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-3, students watch the BrainPOP Jr. movie Thanksgiving and explore related resources to learn the real story behind the Thanksgiving holiday. Then, they will choose a key event in the story, and draw and write journal entries about the event from either the Wampanoag or Pilgrim point of view.  

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about the history of Thanksgiving.
  2. Watch the BrainPOP Jr. movie about Thanksgiving.
  3. Write and/or draw about a key event from a Wampanoag or Pilgrim’s point of view.
  4. Share their journals with a partner.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Construction paper and markers



Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students what comes to their mind when they think about Thanksgiving. Students will likely talk about the meal. They may also mention Pilgrims and Native Americans. Encourage them to share what they know about the story of the holiday. Jot their ideas on the board or chart paper.After everyone has shared, explain that today they will learn story behind Thanksgiving.
  2. Now watch the BrainPOP movie Thanksgiving on the whiteboard as a whole class. Pause as needed to explain concepts and vocabulary.  
  3. Next pair students and assign each pair one of the two following events from the movie: 
    • The arrival of the Pilgrims
    • The big harvest feast
    Within each pair, have one student be a Wampanoag and the other a Pilgrim. Explain that they will think about the event from that person’s point of view.
  4. Model how to open Make-a-Map from within the Thanksgiving topic, instructing pairs to do the same on a device they are sharing. Have them watch the movie again, pausing to take notes on a spider map or any map they’d like. For example, if a student is writing about the arrival of the Pilgrims from a Pilgrim’s point of view, they might note that they were cold, tired, and sick. They might also include that they stole from the Wampanoag. Show the class how they can add images and video clips from the movie to their maps.
  5. As students are watching and making their maps, distribute construction paper and markers.
  6. After they’ve completed their maps, each student is to use the notes from their map to draw a picture and write a journal entry about their event from the point of view of a Wampanoag or Pilgrim.
  7. Have pairs compare and contrast their journal entry with their partner. How are they alike? How are they different?
  8. Bring the class together and review the notes from the opening brainstorm. Prompt students to share something new they learned about Thanksgiving.