Thanksgiving Activities for ELLs

Thanksgiving Activities for ELLs

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to integrate American culture into lessons. Some ELLs will have celebrated Thanksgiving their entire life.  These students will be able to share their family’s traditions around the holiday. Other students will have never experienced the holiday before and will benefit from a basic overview of what the holiday is. Here are some ideas for integrating the topic of Thanksgiving into your November lessons.

Include Multiple Perspectives

As you teach students about Thanksgiving, here are resources to help students learn about the history of Thanksgiving from the perspective of both the Pilgrims and Native Americans.

Compare and Contrast Thanksgiving

Introduce students to Thanksgiving and other harvest holidays with a set of Harvest Festival reading passages. Students read about the holidays of Thanksgiving in the USA, Zhong Qiu Jie in China, Chuseok in Korea, and Pongal in India. They can then find similarities and differences between the harvest festivals from around the world.

Thanksgiving Harvest Festival Reading

Speak and Write about Thanksgiving Traditions

Students can share family traditions around Thanksgiving day. Some students may need assistance identifying what these traditions are. Food is one place to start that is concrete even for young students.  For ELL learners give opportunities for them to draw and/or orally share before moving on to writing.

Students can also write about Thanksgiving topics including what they are thankful for, describing their holiday celebration, and designing a parade float using this set of print and digital Thanksgiving picture writing prompts.

thanksgiving writing prompts

Students can also use print and digital Thanksgiving Would You Rather task cards or a Thanksgiving Writing Center to write about the holiday.

Thanksgiving writing center

FREE Thankful Writing Set

This thankful writing set comes with task cards, a picture vocabulary set, and graphic organizers to help students write about what they are thankful for.

Use Read Alouds to Introduce the Holiday

There are many picture books that can be used to introduce students to the history and cultural practices surrounding Thanksgiving. Check out my list of Thanksgiving books to use with your ELLs

I am Thankful book


Integrate Thanksgiving Vocabulary into Content Lessons 

I have a set of Thanksgiving parts of speech picture vocabulary words. Students can use these to help them complete my Thanksgiving parts of speech color by code sheets and when they are speaking or writing about the holiday. This is also a fun way to review grammar concepts.

thanksgiving color code
Thanksgiving Parts of Speech Illustrated Vocabulary

Students can also review parts of speech and vocabulary with a Thanksgiving parts of speech word search.

thanksgiving word searches


Fun Thanksgiving Activities

Just for fun, I have a set of Thanksgiving-themed bingo boards that have Thanksgiving vocabulary. The playing cards also can be used as a memory game.

thanksgiving bingo

Get the Bundle

Thanksgiving ESL Bundle 

Thanksgiving Activities for ELLs

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