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Thanksgiving Activities Across Subjects

Thanksgiving Activities

Thanksgiving is next week, and your students are probably already thinking about turkey, stuffing, pies, and, of course, time off from school. If you’re looking for ways to keep your students’ attention and also get into the Thanksgiving spirit, check out the Thanksgiving-themed activities below. You’re bound to find an activity or two for which you and your students will be thankful!

Classroom Thanksgiving Feast 

A Thanksgiving feast is an excellent way to teach your students about 17th-century Colonial America and Native American cultures, and it’s a good opportunity to incorporate other lessons as well.

  • Health and Wellness: Ask students to research standard Thanksgiving meals and revise them to be healthier based on the MyPlate initiative. Students can write their own recipes, invent healthy Thanksgiving meal options, and/or prepare a special dish to share with their classmates in a Thanksgiving classroom potluck.
  • Math: Ask students to create a shopping list for a Thanksgiving dinner that will feed the entire class. Set a price limit for the dinner and ask students to research recipes and ingredients as well as sales and prices at your local grocery stores. As students make their shopping lists, they can also poll the class to accommodate food allergies and preferences. For an added challenge, you can even have students create a shopping list for a feast that will feed the whole school!
  • Art: Have students design a dinner invitation for your classroom feast using their medium of choice (e.g., an invitation design app, Photoshop, or the old fashioned paper and markers!).
  • Creative and Persuasive Writing: Ask students to write a creative or persuasive essay to entice outsiders to come to your classroom feast. What makes your classroom special? What will happen at the feast that would encourage outsiders to want to join in? Let your students develop their argumentation skills while using their imaginations!
  • Social Studies: Ask students to research how other countries celebrate their versions of Thanksgiving (many at different times of the year). Students can even bring some of their favorite international celebrations to your classroom feast.

Thanksgiving Classroom Debate

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate the many things for which we are thankful, but the first Thanksgiving wasn’t necessarily only about being thankful. There are actually many myths about the first Thanksgiving. Challenge your students to research myths and facts about the first Thanksgiving, and then, engage them in a classroom debate. One angle for this debate is to have students take different perspectives. For example, have a group of students take the stance of Native Americans, while the other group takes the stances of Colonists. Have the students conduct research about their perspective, and then lead a debate about the positives and negatives of American colonization.

Meaningful Ways to Give Thanks

To truly get into the Thanksgiving spirit, encourage your students to give thanks for special people in their lives. Ask students to write a letter to someone that they are especially thankful for this year. You can also have students pick each other’s names out of a hat and write their classmate a letter explaining why they are thankful to have him/her in their class. Another wonderful idea is to have students make a card or write a letter of gratitude to those serving in the military.

Looking for more ideas? Check out our blog from last year, which offers a number of last minute Thanksgiving-themed activities for the classroom. Also, remember to thank yourself for the wonderful, impactful work you do every day as a teacher. To learn how to thank yourself, take a look at Achieving a Work-Life Balance in Teaching and Stress Reduction for Better Teaching and even better- take 15% off when you use code: THANKFUL at checkout. 

Have a warm, peaceful, and loving Thanksgiving!