Learning in 360 Degrees: Exploring STEM in the Study of the First Thanksgiving

Learning is: Finding the STEM in the Study of the History of Thanksgiving

Visit Mrs. Mallien’s first grade classroom at University Elementary School in Shreveport, Louisiana. This month, they allowed our Discovery Education Community to join them in their study of the history of Thanksgiving and its STEM connections.

The Big Idea

Through interactive STEM centers organized on her Thanksgiving Centers board, built with Discovery Education’s Board Builder, the first graders in Mrs. Mallien’s class travel back to the time of the first Thanksgiving to explore the culture of the 1620s and investigate how technology and innovation impacted life as we know it today.  Students were immersed in collaborative activities that fostered communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.  Although this Big Idea focuses on exploring STEM in the study of the first Thanksgiving, it can easily be modified for the study of any holiday, culture, or national event.

Step Inside

Learn more by stepping into a 360 degree view of Mrs. Mallien’s classroom. Here are tips to maximize the experience:

  • After launching the 360 degree image, spin your view to find the pin that reads Begin Here. Play the embedded video to meet Ms. Mallien as she welcomes you to her classroom.
  • Then, spin your view to find the pins that read Mrs. Mallien Explains The Day and Mrs. Mallien Shares The Discovery Education Resources Used.  Play the embedded videos to learn about the organization of the day.
  • Just as students rotate through the centers, follow the pins in numerical order. Each numbered pin contains an embedded video that describes what students are doing in each station to support their learning.
  • Don’t take our word for it: hear from Mrs. Mallien and see examples of her students’ learning by selecting the pins with images.

View the 360 Experience in a separate tab here. 


Interested in creating a similar experience in your class?  Check out the strategies and resources used by Mrs. Mallien.  You can also explore additional resources and lesson plans by utilizing the updated Search by Topic feature within your Discovery Education resources.

Setting the Stage: Mrs. Mallien began the day with a reminder of their studies of the first Thanksgiving, and instructions of what was to come.  She played the first segment of the video titled The History of Thanksgiving.  Once completed, students participated in the Spotlight On Strategies (SOS) Table Top Texting.  Students reflected on what they learned in that first section of the video, then they sent their texts by passing the papers to their shoulder partner.  Partners responded with an emoji and sent it back.  Students repeated this activity at strategic points identified throughout the video by Mrs. Mallien.

Mr. Mallien’s students use the SOS Table Top Texting to reflect on their learning.

Station One: Students became farmers when visiting this station.  Using her Thanksgiving Centers board, they learned about farming, then and now, by watching a video on the evolution of farming.  Afterwards, the students sorted farming tools into two categories, Then and Now.  Finally, the students chose a farming tool and explained how it was used in the farming process.

Station Two: Using the SOS Get VENN-Y With It, the students explored Thanksgiving foods from the 1620s and now.  Students examined images of the foods and sorted them on large Venn Diagrams drawn out on chart paper.  For a reference tool, students had iPads on the table with access to the Thanksgiving Centers board.

Station Three: Once students arrived at this station, they used the Thanksgiving Centers board to watch a video on how to build a tepee.  Next, they examined the available resources to design and build their own tepee.  To make a real-world connection, Mrs. Mallien included information on what it takes to become a Building Inspector for her students to review.

Station Four: Here, students were able to design their own Native American clothes based on the designs of Native American clothing from the 1620s.  Students accessed information about these clothes from content Mrs. Mallien placed on her Thanksgiving Centers board.  Once again, Mrs. Mallien included real-world connection information here with details on what it takes to become a Fashion Designer.

Station Five: Stories keep culture and traditions alive.  Mrs. Mallien’s students became storytellers with petroglyphs.  Using the Thanksgiving Centers board to watch the petroglyph segment from Mystic Lands: Anasazi; The Ancient One, the students learned about the use of petroglyphs in Native American culture.  Then, they had the opportunity to create their own with their partner.

New to Discovery Education or interested in learning more about what you can do with Discovery Education Streaming Plus? Explore resources in the Professional Learning Center. (CND subscribers)


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