When I was in kindergarten we did a classroom Thanksgiving activity that has stuck with me all my life: Friendship Soup, also called ‘Stone Soup’ (taken from the old legend retold by Marcia Brown). Perfect for scouts, homeschool and church groups, making Friendship Soup or Stone Soup shows what wonderful things can happen when people share.
I don’t know what our teacher called this activity. Friendship Soup is my name for it. Stone Soup is a literary reference. She may have even called it something like ‘Sharing Soup’. I do know that I can close my eyes and go immediately back to that classroom of children in Newago, MI, 196–, ahem, a long time ago and remember the wonderful Thanksgiving memories. I’ve tried this activity with several student groups and it was always a positive experience. Here’s how to make ‘Friendship Soup’ or Stone Soup.
Assign each child to bring a can of their favorite soup or vegetables to school with them. Any kind will do. Don’t tell them what you plan to do with the food. Gather children around for a story. Retell the story of the first Thanksgiving. Visit Hubbard’s Cupboard (here) and WilStar (here) for stories for children. Here is a First Thanksgiving video from Youtube to share also. You may be studying that in your US history or social studies classes. It’s in November to study Native Americans and early American History. Focus on the struggles of the early settlers and how many perished from starvation and illness. When the Jamestown settlers first came to this country, they did not want to farm, hunt or fish. Having heard claims of gold in the New World and were more interested in looking for treasure rather than food. John Smith made his famous dictum: ‘He who will not work, will not eat’. See PreservationVirginia.org for more information.
When you are finished, gather children in the kitchen around a large soup pot that contains just two clean stones. Each child opens his can of soup or vegetables and adds it to the pot. While the soup heats, read Stone Soup retold by Marcia Brown. Contrast some of the selfish ways of the townspeople with the early Jamestown settlers. Discuss how the Native Americans helped the Puritans learn to care for themselves, to grow food, to survive. Focus on how much was gained from sharing, both at the First Thanksgiving and with the soldiers in Stone Soup. Discuss how what might have happened to the Pilgrims (Puritans) had the Indians not shared.
Serve the soup. As the soup heats, continue discussion about Stone Soup and the First Thanksgiving. Discuss how delicious it is to share. Here is a video retelling. Here is a free printable PDF of Marcia Brown’s Stone Soup. Here are some free printable Stone Soup extension activities.
For more lesson plans, visit linked blogs.