Make Thanksgiving a classroom holiday this year, by having your students participate in a special celebration. Encourage them to be thankful during this holiday season with the ideas below. Be sure to take a lot of pictures of whichever activity you choose, so that you can include them in student scrapbooks at the end of the year!
Thanksgiving Activities for the Classroom
Combine Thanksgiving, Writing & Math
This fun idea comes from Catherine, a 4th Grade Teacher, in Oakdale, Minnesota. “In preparation for celebrating Thanksgiving, my class brainstorms questions for a ‘Thanksgiving Day Survey,'” she says. “Typical survey questions include:
- Who do you share your Thanksgiving meal with?
- Do you watch the Macy Thanksgiving Day parade?
- Do you like white meat or dark meat?
- What’s your favorite kind of holiday pie?
- What do you do after the Thanksgiving Day meal?
- …And so on.
We then look at each question separately to determine if it is the open-ended kind that can have many different answers, or if it can be answered by a simple yes or no. I then divide the class into small groups representing the different Thanksgiving categories reflected in the questions (e.g., Meal, Desserts, Activities, Traditions, etc.). Each group uses a computer to prepare and print the list of questions related to its category. Students then distribute their individual questionnaires to each other to complete. After the questionnaires have been filled out and returned, the groups use the data collected to create a graph displaying the results. The groups use these small group graphs to create a master graph poster displaying all the results. We display our ‘Thanksgiving Day Survey’ poster in the hallway for the whole school to enjoy.”
Instead of focusing on what students will get during the holidays, use Thanksgiving to remind them of what they can give. At the beginning of the month, encourage students to brainstorm an idea for a community service project. It might be collecting canned food for a local food pantry, tending a flower bed for a local senior center, or collecting scarves for the homeless. Use these student generated ideas to pick one project that your class will do during the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving. Encourage them to hold a collection drive, or create a fundraiser to complete their project. You will find that your class’ focus quickly moves beyond themselves as they experience the true meaning of giving.
Thanksgiving Dinner Reenactment
Hold a Thanksgiving dinner reenactment for your students and a guest. Beforehand, have students find, select and copy down recipes that they will make for the dinner. Prepare parents ahead of time that a special dish will be requested of them on the day of the event. Work with your class to create place mats, Pilgrim hats, and centerpieces. On the day of the dinner, have students share something for which they are thankful before or after they enjoy their meal.