Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving
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Today’s story is all about the very first Thanksgiving, told from a Christian, providential perspective. It is geared toward elementary-school-aged children, and takes about 15 minutes to read, but both older and younger children will find it fascinating, too.
I hope you’re excited to share it with your kiddos! Grab a cozy blanket and cuddle up on the couch with those warm, wiggly bodies and let’s get started!
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxes
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving is a heartwarming and inspiring story about a child sold into slavery and his journey home again. Follow Squanto from his childhood in America to Spain where he is sold as a slave and then to England where he works for five years, earning passage to return home.
See God’s providence in placing Squanto into the hands of Christian monks, who treated him well and understood his desire to return home. Read about how Squanto returned to find his tribe gone, and his village inhabited by pilgrims escaping religious persecution.
This is the story of Squanto’s life and how he came to play such an important and providential part in American history. It is truly a miracle that the Pilgrims find a native who spoke their language, understood their customs and their predicament, and wanted to help them learn to survive in the New World.
Squanto’s life is compared to Joseph of Egypt’s – he was sold into slavery in a distant country, and was subsequently prepared by God to be able save a nation.
This beautiful, historical story shows that the author of Thanksgiving was neither white nor Indian, but God.
I hope you enjoyed Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving! The fun activities and snack below will help you to remember the providential message of this book.
Literature Activity: Map work
Maps are essential for a good understanding of how and why history happened. When you look through maps over time, you’ll also see other essential historical information.
Here we see a map of early Plimoth drawn by Samuel De Champlain, circa 1605.
A slightly more modern map of Plimoth was included in a map of New England drawn by William Hubbard in 1677.
A New Map of New England was created in 1720, and seems a little more accurate.
As you read Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, you probably noticed that Squanto crossed huge distances. Use a red crayon to draw (on the blackline map of the world linked below) the path Squanto took from his Pawtuxet village to Spain, where he was sold as a slave, then to England where his friends, the monks, sent him to find passage home, and back to Plymouth (formerly his Pawtuxet village).
Can you figure out how many miles he sailed? This small map makes the distance look smaller. Find your state and compare it to the total distance to help you better realize the actual distance.
Literature Activity: Play Like a Pilgrim
With their austere, plain clothing and stringent way of life, you might think that Pilgrim children never played games. It’s true that they had little time for games or amusements. However, young people did play simple games.
Games and toys were made out of scraps and things that were not needed. For example, little girls made their dolls out of corn husks or rags, and boys used sticks as imaginary horses. Most families were quite large, so there were always plenty of other children to play with.
Pilgrim children played board games, and “draughts” was their name for checkers. Played much the same as it is today, checkers hasn’t changed much except for the materials used to play the game. In Pilgrim times, there weren’t as many rules as there are today. Boards were handmade, of course, and draughts were only played after the day’s work was done.
“Naughts and crosses” was the Pilgrims version of tic-tac-toe. Naught is an old English word for zero, and crosses is how the Pilgrims described an X. Pilgrim children also jumped rope, played tag, hide-and-seek, swam, played on see-saws and swings and played scotch-hopper (like hopscotch). Pilgrim children also blew bubbles, played on stilts, used tops, ran hoops and played marbles.
Many of the games Pilgrim children played grew out of their chores. For example, they would make contests of who could carry the most wood or water, or who could card wool the fastest.
I’ve explained (below) two games played during the 17th century. Choose one to play as a family, or try them both! You could also spend some time jumping rope together, or you could build yourself some easy, DIY stilts to play on.
Blind Man’s Bluff
One player is blindfolded. The other players form a circle around the blindfolded person. One of the players turns the blindfolded person around three times, then takes a position within the circle. The blindfolded person moves about to catch one of the p. The first person caught by the blindfolded person becomes the next blindfolded person.
This is one of the oldest known marble games. Two players try to win marbles from each other. The first player tosses a marble on a smooth surface. The second player tries to hit the marble by tossing another marble at it. If successful, the second player wins the marble. If not, the first player has a turn to hit the second player’s marble. The player with the most marbles at the end of the game is the winner.
Literary Snack: Indian (Caramel) Corn Ears
We used our favorite caramel corn recipe. This caramel corn comes out soft, chewy and a little bit sticky. If you lprefer the kind that is crunchy, go ahead and use your favorite recipe. The corn ears will turn out just as cute.
- 1 c. corn syrup
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 3 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. butter (1 cube)
- 3 gallons popped popcorn
- Pop popcorn in your air popper.
- Mix brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir and bring to a boil on medium heat.
- Add sweetened, condensed milk, stir and bring to a boil.
- Add butter. When butter is melted, stir and bring to a boil.
- Boil until the caramel reaches the soft ball stage, then remove from heat.
- Pour caramel over popcorn and mix thoroughly.
- Lay sheets of plastic wrap, approximately 10″ long, out on your countertop.
- Spoon the carameled popcorn down the center of the plastic wrap, then wrap it so it resembles an ear of corn.
- Wrap a sheet of green tissue paper around the base of the ear of corn, so it resembles an ear of indian corn. The easiest way I found to make it look right was to cut each sheet of tissue paper in half, then fold in half, in half again, and cut the edges to look like corn husk leaves. A picture is worth a thousand words, so let me just show you.
And finally, tie the end with raffia or twine or something pretty to cover up the tape.
Here are all of our ears in a basket. Aren’t they cute?
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Thank you for joining us today as we read ‘Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving’! I hope you enjoyed our storytime. Check out my other fun storytime selections, each with educational activities and yummy snacks.