How can Jewish educators integrate Thanksgiving lessons throughout curricula and not just in social studies classes? This was a question my colleagues and I asked annually during my years as a classroom teacher. Through research and collaboration, we found there are many interdisciplinary STEAM Thanksgiving lessons and activities.
Last school year, in my role as the education technology specialist at Ramaz Lower School, my colleagues and I created “The Thanksgiving Day Balloon Project". Students learned about the history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as well as the engineering and design processes for making the balloons. We thought this project would be a great opportunity to have the students use their artistic skills and science knowledge at the end of their engineering unit. In the three lesson unit, students combined their skills in history, design and engineering. To use this unit in your classroom, follow this lesson guide.
In lesson one, students learn the difference between helium balloons and breath filled balloons.
In lesson two read the book Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Then, they learn about the Macy’s “balloonatics” - the scientists and engineers who create the parade balloons. Students will watch a video on how the balloons are designed and engineered. At the end of the lesson students and instructors explore the history of the parade and the balloons.
In the final lesson, students designed a prototype of a new balloon they would put into the parade. The students had to plan out the number of balloon handlers for their design based on the size, shape, and weight of their balloon design.
For additional STEAM Thanksgiving projects, check out Pinterest and the resources below.
More Thanksgiving STEM resources:
Wishing you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving!