This week, Americans will celebrate a truly American holiday – Thanksgiving. This short video explains the history of Thanksgiving:

To learn more about Thanksgiving, search the internet for answers to these questions!

  1. In what year did the Pilgrims celebrate the first Thanksgiving? Where did they celebrate? Why did they have this celebration?
  2. Approximately how many people attended the first Thanksgiving? What groups of people were represented?
  3. Who issued the proclamation making Thanksgiving an annual national holiday? When? Who led the campaign to make it official?
  4. On what day each year is Thanksgiving celebrated in the United States?
  5. Name three popular ways to serve leftover turkey.
  6. How long did the first Thanksgiving celebration last?
  7. Name 10 foods thought to have been eaten at the first Thanksgiving and 5 traditional Thanksgiving foods that were probably not eaten.
  8. How many pounds of sweet potatoes did NC produce in 2010?
  9. Why did President Roosevelt change the date of Thanksgiving?
  10. How heavy was the fattest turkey ever raised?
  11. What happens to the live turkey given to the president each year by the National Turkey Federation?
  12. What percentage of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
  13. How many towns in the U.S. are named Turkey? Where is the closest one?
  14. Who designed the first giant balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
  15. Which character has appeared as a balloon in the Macy’s parade the most?

How many answers did you find? What did you learn?

Veterans Day – November, Monday 11th

Next Monday, November 11, is Veterans Day. A veteran is a soldier who has served in any of the US Armed Services like the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force or Marines. Many veterans have fought in wars for the United States and risked their lives. Some have been injured or killed.  On this day we honor all veterans, alive or dead, for their service to our country.

One of the worst wars where many, many American soldiers were killed was World War I (1914 to 1918). The  “armistice”  or truce to stop the fighting for WW I was signed by countries on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. When people heard the news, they celebrated, danced in the streets, hugged strangers and went a bit crazy with happiness and relief.

When the U.S established Veterans Day as a federal holiday, it was on Armistice Day, November 11th.  At the time, everyone hoped that that terrible war would be the last global war but unfortunately, the US has been in more wars since that time.  Even today we are in a war in Afghanistan where our Armed Service risk their lives for America.   Let us remember all our veterans on this day and give them the respect they are due.

For more information, click on this El Civics lesson – Veterans Day and look at these videos .








Trick or Treat

Pumpkins are sitting on many porches, ghosts are hanging from trees, and people are starting to wear strange costumes . What is happening???  It’s that time of year – Halloween!

On October 31,  little witches and monsters walk the street. They knock on doors  saying “Trick or Treat”  – they are  asking for candy “treat” or they may play a “trick” on you

What is happening??? It’s the fall holiday of Halloween. It’s not a legal holiday and no one gets the day off.  It is a cultural holiday that some people enjoy. Children dress up in costumes, sometimes scary ones like a ghost or sometimes not so scary ones like a princess or action hero.  Often they wait until dark and then walk with their parents to neighbors home  or maybe to a mall or community center party where they can “Trick or Treat”  for small candies.

Not just children dress up. Many adults may put on a costume too and there are often costume parties around Halloween and prizes for the “best” or most original costume.

Learn more about Halloween in this El Civics lesson

Now here are a few videos on Halloween

Some words we use on Halloween

This practices asking someone what costume they will wear on Halloween

Now let this Halloween skeleton teach us a bit about our body

Now dance the Halloween night away with this popular song …. the “Monster Mash”



Columbus Day – Monday October 14th

Every year on the second Monday in October, Americans honor Christopher Columbus for his discovery of the New World (the Americas). Columbus was not the first man to reach American- there were many native Americans that had moved slowly into the Americas from Siberia during prehistoric times.  But once Columbus came back to Spain with the news of what he found,  Europeans “discovered”  there was a whole new world out on the ocean that they never knew about.

This video gives soooo much information on Columbus, why he sailed into a dangerous ocean, what he was actually trying to find and what he found instead


As always, the El Civics site gives a wonderful lesson on this holiday =>  Columbus Day.

Test your knowledge  with this crossword

Level 3 /4 students may want to practice their reading skills with the short history of Columbus  When you are done, take the quiz at the bottom of the page.


Because Columbus was an Italian by birth, Columbus day is also a day that many Italian Americans use to celebrate their Italian heritage and contributions to America. What would America be like without pizza and pasta that Italians brought over. Too horrible to imagine!  So on Columbus Day, enjoy a nice Italian meal and raise a glass of wine to Christopher Columbus.

Remembering September 11th

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the United States experienced one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in American history.  On the anniversary of this event, many Americans will pause for a moment of silence to remember the people whose lives were lost on that tragic day.

Used with permission from NYCMarines via 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Used with permission from NYCMarines via 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

It began as a very typical late summer day for the people in New York City, New York, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Early that morning, several men boarded two large Boeing 767 jets at Logan International Airport in Boston, MA.  One airplane was American Airlines Flight 11 and the other airplane was Untied Airlines Flight 175.  Both jets were departing to Los Angeles.  Other men, at Newark International Airport boarded United Airlines Flight 93 departing to San Francisco, and at Washington Dulles Airport other men boarded American Airlines Flight 77 departing to Los Angeles.

“All of the jets were scheduled for transcontinental flights and carried an average of 20,000 gallons of aviation fuel. This was probably one of the major reasons they were selected, as the amount of fuel, plus impact into a building, added up to a lethal bomb.” (

The hijackers used knives and box cutters to take over the planes.  The two planes that left the Logan airport flew into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City.  The plane that left the Washington Dulles airport flew into the west side of the Pentagon in Washington, DC and the forth plane that left the Newark International Airport did not make it to the hijackers’ intended target, but as a result of courageous passengers fighting against the hijackers, this airplane crashed into a field in the farming town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A little over 3,000 people were killed that day.  In New York City, 2830 people were killed.  This includes all the passengers and crew members on both planes, people working in the World Trade Center towers, police officers, fire fighters and Port Authority police officers.  In Washington, DC, at the Pentagon, 125 people were killed, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, all 44 passengers and crew members were killed when their plane crashed in a field.  The 19 men who hijacked the four jets on September 11th were believed to be members of al-Qaeda, Arabic for “The Base.”

For more information about the September 11th terrorist attack, you can click on the link below.

Thanksgiving Food

Thanksgiving is coming this week.  It is a time for Americans to be with their families and share a big feast.  Traditional foods varies from family to family and location to location, but here is what the menu looks like at my Grandmother’s house:

Used with permission from Faye Huang under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Roast Turkey

Used with permission from Paolo Valdemarin under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Stuffing (also called Dressing)

Used with permission from pchow98 under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Baked Ham

Used with permission from pfduck under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Mashed Potatoes (with Gravy)

Used with permission from Chanita Harel under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Baked Sweet Potatoes (with marshmallows)

Used with permission from nozoomii under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Green beans

Used with permission from merri under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Cranberry Sauce

Used with permission from Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Pumpkin Pie

I hope you are hungry.  Do you know of any other foods that are traditionally eaten during Thanksgiving in America?