Thanksgiving Theme...What's appropriate and what isn't???

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by cml88, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. cml88

    cml88 Companion

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    Oct 30, 2012

    Ok so this is my first year teaching K and I need to know what is appropriate for this theme. I've recently downloaded an awesome thanksgiving pack from one of my favorites bloggers and realized the term "indian" is everywhere in it. Do classroom teachers still use the term pilgrims and Indians...or is it more accepted to say Native Americans? Also...we will be having a thanksgiving luncheon arranged by some of our parents. I remember doing this back when I was in kindergarten. We got to choose if we wanted to be a pilgrim or Indian and then make the appropriate headpiece (pilgrim hat or native american head piece). However, last year when I was teaching pre-k in a different school, I was going to do this and my principal was horrified. She explained that making headpieces is entirely inappropriate, and uncharacteristic of the Native American culture. I feel so confused and don't want to step on anybodies toes. I UNDERSTAND that we need to be politically correct, but also it's important to remember these little ones are still in K! They should only be learning about the basics of pilgrims/indians & should be having fun while doing so. ANYWAYS....Thoughts and ideas are greatly appreciated!!!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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  4. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    One of my good friends is Native American and she HATES that head dresses are associated with Native Americans.

    I like the idea of beads.
     
  5. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Fanatic

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    Oct 30, 2012

    The basics are that the Pilgrims came, wiped out all of the Native Americans, and had a party to celebrate? Honestly, I wouldn't even go into it at that level. I would say that Thanksgiving is a day when we are thankful for the things we have, and celebrate the harvest season. Some families celebrate by eating a big meal, called a feast. Traditionally, the meal includes turkey, but it doesn't always have to. At that age, that's really all I'd get into at school.

    It is considered highly incorrect to have students make vests and headbands, and if I had a child, I would not allow them to participate in that activity. That is someone's culture, and it is not a costume. I'm glad you "UNDERSTAND" the need for political correctness, but you don't seem to be getting the need for cultural sensitivity that drives it. I would stick with fall and harvest crafts. (Although, many non-Christians do not celebrate Thanksgiving because of the religious aspects, and many Christians do not celebrate Thanksgiving because of the pagan roots.)
     
  6. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    Oct 30, 2012

    I do make sure to tell my students that the Pilgrims came for many reasons--religious freedom, adventure, land, business. I emphasize that the Native Americans--also called Indians (because of Christopher Columbus)--were very helpful to the Pilgrims.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 30, 2012

    It's okay to say Native American or American Indian. It's even better if you can use the actual names of the tribes, like Lakota or Cherokee or Paiute, for example. It's not like there's some big "Native American" culture--that's just a term used to encompass the different indigenous peoples that live/lived here.

    I don't think that being in Kindergarten is an excuse to be racist or stereotypical. Kids have to learn somewhere that it's important to treat people from all cultures with respect. What better place than in Kindergarten? What a great opportunity to teach about tolerance and understanding of other cultures.
     
  8. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Oct 30, 2012

    When I taught K I actually did a week of Native American lessons and a week of pilgrim lessons. During the week of Native American lessons I tried to teach about Native Americans from the four corners of America. We talked about their housing, what they hunted, their rituals, and what they wore. So, yes, we did do the beads and the head dresses. Simply because Native Americans of the Plains wore head dresses. The last group of Native Americans were the ones of the North east so that we could lead in to our study of Pilgrims. Squanto was a big Native American I talked about on this day. You realistically can't touch base on everything, but you can give them an idea. When it was time to put on costumes. I had kids make both kinds. They drew from a hat a slip of paper. Each paper either had Native American or Pilgrim written on it. We had discussed it so much that they knew the word. Never did I have a child unhappy with what they drew. They were so proud of what they had learned to read.
     
  9. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Oct 30, 2012

    I remember doing the dinner as well... it was a different time when I was younger than it is now (I mean pc wise).

    Dr.Gator... what a great idea. I agree we can't generalize everything...but show that there are many types and cultures....just like everywhere in America....

    I don't teach K, but we have watched scholastic.com Thanksgiving unit. It is very interesting to watch and learn from. You can sign up for free... they send a note "written" for a Pilgrim child every week. It's fun to go along with your Thanksgiving unit.
     
  10. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I think you need to be sensitive to your school and community culture...here in Oklahoma, I would venture that 25 to 50% of our student body is Native American...but few are "raised in the tribe." We--people at my school, not me---make headbands of some sort every year. I have NEVER heard parents complain...but this year will probably be the first.
     
  11. diggerdeb

    diggerdeb Comrade

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    Nov 17, 2012

    If you want to have a feast....try doing it based on the book...I Know an old lady who swallowed a pie by Alison Jackson. We have done this for years and it is age appropriate and fun. We always watch the parts of the Macy's Day parade on video because the kids can relate. They always have so much to talk about after the break.
     
  12. myKroom

    myKroom Habitué

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    Nov 18, 2012

    With kindergarteners I use both of the terms interchangeably. In my experience, they often don't understand "native american", but the minute I say "indian" they know what I'm talking about. I use it as a chance to expose them to the term while also using a term they are knowledgable about. Kindergarteners themselves are not politically correct, so it is our job to expose them to that appropriate terminology while using their current knowledge base. I also talk about how there are lots of different tribes in the US and the ones at the first Thanksgiving were different then the tribes we had in our area.

    Whether it is correct or not, I don't stress over what is PC because every time you turn around, something new has come up. In all honesty, I think our society has become too PC! Not everyone is going to be happy with how we run things, so I find that sticking to the facts (as basic as I need to in K) makes life the easiest. If I can justify my activity and explain it to a parent if need be, then I'm good to go!

    As another poster said, be aware of school culture and fact and you should be okay!
     

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