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Creative Writing Lesson Plan: Thanksgiving and Historical Fiction

Published by Roscoe Severance

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The Thanksgiving holiday is an opportunity to study characters and their perspectives in a creative writing class. Although Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated by most, there is also a complex history between new colonists and Native Americans. Use history to write different perspectives on the same event.

Teacher Collaboration and Historical Fiction

Before presenting this assignment to a creative writing class, collaborate with social studies or history teachers on the historical content of the lesson. A social studies teacher can provide the details of Native Americans in the Americas, Plymouth Colony, King Philip’s War (also known as Metacom’s Rebellion), and the settlement of Jamestown. Having a solid foundation in this early history will help students with their writing. Consider grading the project for both a creative writing and a social studies grade.

Discuss different genres of fiction with the creative writing class. Introduce the genre of historical fiction. Students should understand that although historical fiction is based on actual events or historical figures, it is a story that the author created. Remind them that for their lesson, the setting and background information should be historically accurate.

Writing Prompts: Thanksgiving Quotes and Sayings

Use the Thanksgiving quotes and sayings as an introduction to opposing points of view. Thanksgiving is a holiday that has two sides of a story. The student’s goal is to portray two perspectives of the same event.

Students can write a historical fiction story, set in 1620, based on the landing of the Mayflower. Students will write a story about the event from different points of view by alternating sections. For example, their first scene might be written from a Pilgrim’s perspective. Their next scene would be written from a Wampanoag Native American perspective.

Creative writing students can expand on the traditional Thanksgiving holiday to write about other founding colonies, such as Jamestown in Virginia. A colonist is going to portray a different experience than from the Algonquin (also known as Powhatan) Native Americans.

Creative Writing Partners and Peer Reviews

As part of the writing process in a creative writing class, students should share their drafts with a writing partner. Partners will peer edit each others work for grammar, historical accuracy and showing at least two perspectives. Remind them that they will be evaluated by their history teacher in addition to their creative writing grade. Give students time to revise their drafts based on their partner’s suggestions before writing their final story.

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