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Sikeston kindergarten students learn about Thanksgiving holiday

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

(Photo)
Pictured are Jamahd Shannon, Sheralyn Marshall, Tyler Roberts, Tesla Gadberry and Ana-Maria Flores sing a Thanksgiving song.
SIKESTON -- Six-year-old Shantrell Headspeth and 5-year-old Tristan Duff admit they've learned a thing or two about Thanksgiving this year in kindergarten.

For example, Shantrell said she knows the Pilgrims came to America and met the (American) Indians.

"They had a Mayflower boat," Shantrell said matter-of-factly.

"And they didn't have cranberry sauce because they didn't have sugar," Tristan added. "We don't have tents; we live in houses."

When asked what the weather was like when the Pilgrims had their first Thanksgiving, Shantrell said it was hot, and quickly added: "I think it was in the desert."

Well, maybe they don't retain everything taught to them, but for most 5- and 6-year-olds, kindergarten simply offers an introduction to the holidays.

"They're just beginning to get the idea of what a holiday is and that they get to get out of school for it," noted teacher Kim Amsden.

So throughout the month, and especially this week, teachers at the Sikeston Kindergarten Center are implementing Thanksgiving into their lessons plans.

"When they reach kindergarten, they don't really know all about it (Thanksgiving), except for what their friends or family tell them," Amsden pointed out. "They may not know the real part of the story, that the Pilgrims stayed and the crew went back on the Mayflower so they were left without a ship."

Amsden said she uses the example of the Indians and Pilgrims to emphasize being nice to each other and getting along with one another. On Veterans Day, Amsden incorporated thankfulness by having her students bring in items to send to a soldier serving in Iraq.

Discussing the parts of a turkey is also an important Thanksgiving lesson, Amsden said.

"A lot of the kids don't realize that when they're eating turkey, it actually came from a turkey. It's a big shock for them," Amsden said.

For the past nine years, Amsden has had her students write their own recipes on how to bake a turkey, which can get pretty humorous, she added.

"Some will say you put the turkey in the oven for three minutes and then eat it. Others will say to use hot sauce and bake it or put in the microwave for five seconds," Amsden laughed.

And others will go through the whole process of hunting the turkey and plucking its feathers, Amsden recalled.

"Some can get real graphic -- I've had some say to 'pull the guts out.'" Amsden laughed. "Some years students are more animated than others."

Amsden laminates the recipes and sends them home with the students, she said, adding most parents like it.

Teacher Terry Moreland said she's also talked with her class about how Thanksgiving is a holiday.

"We've talked about how Pilgrims and Indians ate fish and learned to put fish in the ground to fertilize it. And we talked about how Thanksgiving is different today than it was years ago and about the Mayflower coming over from England and how not everyone survived," Moreland noted.

In addition to classroom lessons, students at the kindergarten center also took turns participating in a Pow-Wow earlier this week, where they sang songs and took part in various activities. Several classes also made cornbread and butter.

To the kindergartners, Thanksgiving also means turkeys and eating them at somebody's house, they said.

Beau Bryant, 5, said he spends Thanksgiving Day baking turkeys with his whole family, including his brother who's 13. With everyone working together, it takes about 10 minutes to do, he said.

And 5-year-old Peyton Kennard said he plans to bake turkeys and make cookies with his family Thursday.

But being thankful is also a part of the holiday, the children said.

Shantrell said she's thankful for her mommy and daddy, as are Beau and Peyton.

And Tristan admitted: "I'm thankful for my horses and cow."