Thanksgiving Time Machine


    This lesson plan idea could be used a variety of subject areas. I have chosen to use it to introduce a significant historical individual that has to do with Thanksgiving. You may choose to do it with Squanto, Somoset, William Bradford, etc.



    Making your time machine out of a refrigerator box is easy. Make a dial, marked with an appropriate time scale, and an arrow you can move from "today" back to whatever year youíre discussing and cut a door in it (see model and directions here). Have a guest to the classroom dress up as a significant historical figure (this could be fun if it was your principal or one of their parents or someone) and provide them with information about the life of that significant historical person that they can study before they come into your class. Have the time machine in the hallway, and you just have the person enter the time machine before you bring it into your class. That way, when you move the dial to the appropriate year, theyíre prepared to step right out and give your kids a fun presentation.


    Begin by telling your students that you created the most amazing thing last night-- a time machine! Tell them that you thought it would be fun to try it out with them and see how it works. Bring in the time machine from the hall and set the dial back to the desired year (when this person lived or when something significant happened with them). Open the door and let your guest step out. You may have your guest look confused at their surroundings and tell the story of the person theyíre dressed as. You can have time for your students to ask your guest questions and come to know this person.


  • A refrigerator box
  • Other fixinís for your time machine (your time dial, maybe some futuristic-looking buttons...)
  • An appropriate costume for your guest
  • Information about the individual youíre introducing (some sources are listed below)

Sources: A Biography of William Bradford. Quick summary of facts about William Bradford. Brief summary of the life of William Bradford. This article is refuting a "historical account" of the First Thanksgiving and Squanto's story.  It is, however, a great resource for finding out what really did happen to Squanto.

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