The First Thanksgiving

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
The First Thanksgiving Website Poster Image
Info-packed, interactive look at Pilgrim life.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational value

Kids can learn what life was like in Pilgrim times by taking a virtual field trip to tour Massachusetts' Plimoth Plantation living history village, seeing what the voyage to America involved, plus other videos and text. A slideshow also offers historical background on the first Thanksgiving, including what was served (probably duck) and how it was prepared. Kids probably won't spend weeks on the site -- the content is limited, but it's concise, organized, and well-presented. Expanding the content would add to the interactive elements and provide kids with a good starting point for a vivid overview of daily Pilgrim and Native American life.

Positive messages

The site aims to make history and learning fun -- and emphasizes the achievements that America's early settlers made and the help they received from Native Americans.

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language
Consumerism

The site is sponsored by and features ads from Scholastic.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this history-centric site is designed to be used in classrooms or at home as a way for kids to learn about the first Thanksgiving and the customs and issues that surrounded that time period. Because kids can't IM, email, or otherwise contact each other on the site, they can learn about pilgrim life and the first Thanksgiving safely. The site occasionally hosts live video webcasts and live chats, which are archived on the site and remain on topic and focused on learning. The site also contains quizzes, an interactive look at the Mayflower, and other elements to make learning fun.

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What's it about?

The First Thanksgiving site, sponsored by book publisher Scholastic, includes videos, images, and historical background on both the origin of Thanksgiving and life during that era. Users can check out a slideshow illustrating the differences between the Pilgrim and Wampanoag settlements; take a virtual tour of the Pilgrim village; and find out how Native Americans helped the Pilgrims survive.

Is it any good?

THE FIRST THANKSGIVING offers teachers and students an in-depth look at the pilgrims' journey to America and subsequent lifestyle -- and, of course, there's plenty of information about the first Thanksgiving feast. Younger kids will enjoy the site because a narrator supplies much of the background about the ship, daily life for both the Pilgrims and the Native Americans who they met, and the feast.

However, older kids can also access written content, including user-submitted questions about pilgrim life that have been answered by a member of the Wampanoag tribe. To keep kids interested, the site also contains some interactive elements -- including quizzes and a short script they can perform. Online interaction: Occasionally the site hosts web chats, where students (with teachers' help) can submit questions for fictional historical characters to learn more about early settlers and Native Americans. Teachers and students can sign up to receive letters from Thanksgiving characters by providing an email address.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the Pilgrims initially come to America. What principles was the country founded on?

  • Why was the first Thanksgiving meal and meeting so significant? How did the groups work together to ensure that the Pilgrims survived once they'd arrived in America?

  • The site contains a look at how housing and other things differed for the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe. What are some major ways that both groups' lives were different? How are cooking, daily chores, and other things different for us today?

Website details

For kids who love learning about cultures and traditions

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