Thanksgiving may be all about the Pilgrims, but it also provides a great opportunity to share your own family’s coming-to-America story with your kids. Whether your ancestors came over on the Mayflower, joined the immigration boom of the early 20th century or just recently made the U.S. their home, sharing your heritage with your kids can be a special part of your Thanksgiving Day celebration and a valuable geography lesson!
A world map (you can pick up inexpensive ones at poster shops)
Round-headed straight pins in at least two different colors
A cork board or bulletin board
What You Do:
This is a project the whole family can do together. Help your child tape or pin your map onto the bulletin board, and set it in the center of the table. Give each adult at the table a pile of pins in a different color.
Start by helping your child mark your town on the map with a pin.
Take turns handing your child pins to put in on the map, moving backwards through the places you've lived. Tell her where you went to college, where you grew up, where your parents grew up, and so on.
Your child may be able to identify states and countries, but if she has trouble finding a place on the map or if you want to guide her to a specific region, help her by storytelling. For example, "My grandfather was born in the mountains" and by telling her when she's getting "hotter" or "colder." You can even help her by telling her to move the pin North, East, South, or West for extra practice.
Continue with as many relatives and friends as you can think of. Say things like "My Uncle Kenji lives in Japan. Can you find Japan?" Then she'll mark that place on the map.
As the map fills up, your child will see how much a part of the global community she is, and she will have learned a lot about you! You can even invite your Thanksgiving guests to add their own relatives to your heritage map with different colored pins to add to your global family.