Broadening Kindergarten Perspectives: Looking Beyond Thanksgiving

News · December 16, 2016

After reflecting on the narrative of the Native Americans and European pilgrims coming together to share a Thanksgiving meal at Plymouth, French Kindergarten Head Teacher Jessica Chalmers wanted to offer her students a broader context for understanding Native American life in the United States. She saw this as an opportunity to bring in important current events to grow our students' global awareness.

”I realized that students were speaking of Native Americans as if they were ancient civilizations that no longer exist. I decided to bring a different perspective into the classroom, that of modern-day Native Americans, which I think is important considering their current reality and struggles,” explains Jessica.

The students were introduced to a series of images for a “See, Think, Wonder” visible thinking routine. These images included a map of the proposed access pipeline route through North Dakota and photos of the construction of the pipeline and protest demonstrations at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The students critically analyzed the images they were shown by describing them, making inferences from what they saw in the photos, and asking questions.

Qui a fait le trou?

A quoi sert le tunnel?

Pourquoi il y a une ligne?

Qui a fait la barrière? 

Pourquoi les gens sont là?

After looking at these images individually, the students were asked to looked at the images in a sequence and try to explain what could be happening with this group of Native Americans.

“The class was right on target when it came to connecting the dots. We let the students lead the conversation and would stop after they expressed their ideas, to confirm or correct any misconceptions." 

The class then wrote a small reaction piece on what they felt and thought about the drilling of the pipeline and the impact that it would have on the Native American land. The students each also wrote a short message to the people in charge of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction or to the Native Americans taking part in the protests.

Tu as besoin de protège la rivière! -Aoife

Fais pas le tuyau parce que les Amérindiens veulent pas. -Elliot

J'aimerais que tu casser le tuyau. -Nico 

Arrêtes à faire la grève. Sinon, ils vont avoir plus mal. -Giacomo


This activity was a great opportunity for students to see the celebration of Thanksgiving through a different lens and get a better understanding of how Native Americans today are working to protect their lands and traditions.