Thanksgiving and Young Children

Every year, before Thanksgiving, there are “cute” images of turkeys.  Children are taught poems and stories and songs about the turkey who got away, children waddle around going “gobble, gobble, gobble” and in many classrooms, they trace their hands to make a turkey.

Every year, I ask the same question:  Why is this the only animal that is personified for a holiday where it’s the main food at the dinner?  I know there are children raised on farms where they eat the animals they raise.  BUT, they are not taught to pretend to BE those animals.

In early childhood classrooms, children waddle like ducks, flap their arms to “fly” like birds, “swim” like fish, etc.  BUT they are never taught to do this when that animal is going to be on the table! Yes, teachers have to be mindful of the families who may be vegetarians or vegans.  But the main focus in most classes in November is the turkey.

I’ve always wondered about stuff that others don’t often wonder about.  This one gets me all the time.  How did teaching little ones to pretend to be the food they will eat get into the story??

Back in the day when I taught little ones, the very youngest were part of learning to thank others.  Staff thanked each other and the children.  When they are tiny, they don’t need to get into the historical significance and the harm later done to the natives who welcomed them and shared food with them. 

Let’s start a movement to keep the THANKS in Thanksgiving and remember to thank each other and those who help us as we go about our daily lives.

And PLEASE find other decorations for this time of year!