November 2017 | Teaching in the Tongass

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thanksgiving Ideas for the Classroom

It's that time of year! We've just passed Halloween, and Christmas is right around the corner. But, sloooooow down time, because there's a wonderful holiday I love to celebrate in the classroom. That's right, Thanksgiving. One of my favorite memories as a first grader myself is when our teacher held a formal Thanksgiving dinner just for our class. We all dressed up (I even have the home movie), and parents helped turn the music room (which was a modular building) into a magical Thanksgiving feast, complete with actual cloth linens and real silverware. I look back at that day in amazement and pure gratitude. Knowing what I know now about teaching, pulling that off could not have been an easy feat. If you are brave enough to try this with your class and have some parent volunteers willing to help, you should definitely try it. It's one of my all time favorite memories, and some day I hope to recreate it in my own classroom. Until then, here are a few of my tried and true favorite Thanksgiving things to do in the classroom! 
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When it comes to celebrating pretty much anything in the classroom, I'm all about easy. I like to make things fun, but I don't want to spend my entire weekend prepping for it. My first year, I would have. But at this point, I cherish the weekends. I'm guessing you do, too. Here are just a few Thanksgiving activities that don't require a lot of prep, but still have all the fun!

The week before Thanksgiving, I like to give my students a Night Before Thanksgiving reader's theater (you can grab it free here) so they can begin practicing. I've done this in groups, in pairs and a combination of pairs as a whole group and every year, it's so fun to see how it turns out. If you've never done a reader's theater, I highly recommend trying it. I am always so impressed with the growth they make from the first time they read it to when they've practiced for a week. You can keep it simple, or you can turn into more of a production with acting, it all depends on how much time you have!

I also have these FUN Editable Color by Code pages that can be Thanksgiving Color by Sight Word, Thanksgiving Color by decide (that's the editable part!) whether to use them for math or literacy, or both! Kids LOVE them and you are sneaking in learning and they don't mind! I call that a win-win!
Thanksgiving Color by Sight Word
An easy craft you can do that incorporates literacy are these Editable Writing Crafts. You can choose what the writing prompt is, whether it's "If I Were a Turkey" or "What I'm Thankful for This Year." It's editable, so it's up to you! They're simple cut and paste crafts so you don't have your students wasting a lot of time tracing onto construction paper (your admin will appreciate that). And, what's even better, this is actually a set of 80 crafts all bundled into one! For instance, you get all 5 of these crafts for Thanksgiving. They can be thrown up on a bulletin board or sent home. 
Turkey craft and pilgrim craft
You can also grab this free Thanksgiving writing paper set to add to your writing center. They're simple and the borders don't take up too much space, so the writing is what stands out on the page (my favorite part!). These are so great because they are blank, which means you can use them for pretty much any writing activity (yay!). I have free writing papers for holidays throughout the year, so be sure to look for those while you're there.
I also have these Thanksgiving themed centers for literacy and math. My favorite is the "Gobble the Corn" where the turkey's beak is a greather/less than symbol and students have to decide which corn card number is larger--so cute!
Thanksgiving Activities for Kids
And we can't forget about the read-alouds! I begin most of my months with switching out our book display and gathering my read alouds (I'm oddly protective over them haha!). Most students (and even adults) will take one look at this book and immediately think it's about Halloween.'s not! It's a great transition book from Halloween to Thanksgiving (the pumpkin is actually a gourd, and he sits down for a Thanksgiving meal at the end). Here are a few more of my favorite Thanksgiving read-alouds (you can find the links to them below the image).

So that's it! I hope you found something useful that you can do with your class to celebrate Thanksgiving. If you have any suggestions, feel free to drop a comment below!

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