Keeping kids focused on the holiday will add some magic to your celebration (and help them stay on their best behavior during Thanksgiving dinner). Share these fascinating fun facts at the table to keep kids engaged and foster fun conversation among the kiddy contingent.

  • The feast we call the “First Thanksgiving” happened in 1621 – almost 400 years ago! – and 153 people feasted together.
  • The Pilgrims came from England to Massachusetts and didn’t have a clue how to hunt and farm over here, but the American Indians knew just what to do! At the first Thanksgiving, a large group of native Americans were sad to see so many hungry mom, dad, and baby Pilgrims, so they gave them a huge amount of food as a present… without asking for or expecting anything in return!
  • Squanto (a very kind native American who actually spoke English) actually taught the Pilgrims how to catch fish and plant local crops, like corn (did you know they put a fish in the ground under each corn see to fertilize the plant and make lots of ears?!). That was good luck for the Pilgrims, because they might have all starved without someone to teach them how to hunt and farm!
  • Many kids will giggle to learn that Squanto thought the Pilgrims were stinky because they almost never bathed! He begged them to bathe, but they still wouldn’t do it because they thought bathing made people catch colds and get sick!
  • We don’t know exactly what all was in the first Thanksgiving feast, but we do know that it included corn, maple syrup, wild turkeys and other birds, deer… and lots of eel!
  • The “cornucopia” – a horn full of food – goes back to way before the first Thanksgiving. In Ancient Greece, it was said that Zeus, the king of the gods, broke a horn off a goat-goddess and it had endless food inside. (Ask your school-aged child to look up the derivation of the word “corn.”)
  • More than 200 years after the original feast, President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday. That was right after the Civil War. He hoped if we all gave thanks it would help bring the North and South together.

For more tips on getting kids involved in Thanksgiving, click here!

Dr. Harvey KarpDr. Harvey Karp has been a specialist in children’s health and development for over 30 years. Over a million parents have used Dr. Karp’s techniques for making their kids – and families – happy. His landmark publications, The Happiest Baby on the Block, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep, and Dr. Karp Live: A Conversation about Babies, Toddlers and Sleephave been translated into over 20 languages and their popularity has made Dr. Karp the most-read pediatrician in America. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


NEXT: Get more Thanksgiving party ideas or start planning your next holiday get-together by sending one of our Thanksgiving invitations.