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 Thanksgiving activities to use 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.
- Culturally Responsive Way to Teach about Thanksgiving from Lee and Low books
- Online Discovery game to Learn about the First Thanksgiving
- Native American Perspectives on Thanksgiving includes links to activities and materials to teach students about Thanksgiving from the perspective of Native Americans.
Compare and Contrast Thanksgiving
Many cultures around the world have harvest festivals and holidays that celebrate giving thanks. Students can practice comparing and contrasting as they learn about these celebrations.
- Have students read about giving thanks around the world with this free reading passage from Readworks.
- 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.
Teach About Gratitude
November is a great time to have students reflect on what they are thankful for. You can use this topic to teach about different types of nouns (person, place, thing) as students think about what they are grateful for. Then have them speak or write about what they are thankful for.
- Thankful Sentence Speaking Practice comes with cards that have pictures of people, places, and things to be thankful for. It also includes sentence frames to help students talk about what they are thankful for. There are both print and digital version included.
- Free Thankful writing set comes with task cards, a picture vocabulary set, and graphic organizers to help students write about what they are thankful for.
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 ML 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.
Practice sequencing, reading or listening and writing skills with Thanksgiving recipes.
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
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.
Students can also review parts of speech and vocabulary with a Thanksgiving parts of speech word search.
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.
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