There’s more to Thanksgiving than pumpkin pie, turkey, and days off school. In fact, us educators often have the biggest responsibility in teaching our students about the holiday! So whether you take time to integrate something into your lesson, or just squeeze in a fun activity sometime during the week, here are some fun ways to teach about Thanksgiving and it’s meaning.
1. Read something together.
Based on the age level of your classroom you may have to modify this, but reading is a fun and interactive way to teach students about the holiday (without boring them to death). Teacher Mary Evett shares some recommended reading in her Thanksgiving post.
Book Ideas: “The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving,” “Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast,” “Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy,” or “P is For Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet.”
2. Play a holiday interactive online activity.
This awesome site, ‘Thanksgiving Interactive: You are the Historian,’ has a downloadable game you can have your students play. Here they can take on the role of a pilgrim or settler and learn some of the (true!) background of turkey day! As a final activity, you can design and print your own Thanksgiving exhibit panel.
3. Take your students on a virtual field trip.
Scholastic has created this awesome resource for Thanksgiving – a complete unit, including a tour of the Mayflower, historical letters, and teacher resources! Plus there are ideas for Kindergarten through late middle school!
4. Play classroom games.
Turkey spelling bee (spell all the foods associated with the holiday), Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Turkey, pass-the-potato, scavenger hunt, popcorn race, the list of ideas is endless! Feeling stuck, check out resources like this, or this, which gives ideas for ESL classrooms!
5. Create a feast table.
Depending on the age of your students, have them construct their own Thanksgiving tables (construction paper, pipe cleaners, stickers, etc.) Or have them draw what foods they’d have, or sketches of things they’re thankful for.
6. Do thankful crafts.
This goes hand-in-hand with the feast table, but have your students do a craft related to something they’re thankful for. This can be writing a thank you note to a loved one, drawing a picture of things they’re each thankful for, making a ‘thankful tree’ or thankful turkey (with each hand or feather of the turkey being something the student loves/is thankful for). You can even take all their ideas and put them together at the end to create a class Blessings Book!
7. Complete some Thanksgiving activity sheets.
Need to fill some transition time? Have a few minutes to spare before the bell rings? Here are some resources for quick, time-fillers/activity sheets related to the holiday. If you don’t really have time to teach about Thanksgiving, but still want to make the holiday relevant in your classroom – this is the perfect solution!
8. Have a dress-up day.
Take a class period to have your students dress up. Have them take on the roles of characters from the Thanksgiving resources they’ve read in books/online. Have them write a diary entry as if they were that character on the first Thanksgiving.