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.
- Culturally Responsive Way to Teach about Thanksgiving from Lee and Low books
- Online Discovery game to Learn about the First Thanksgiving
- Native Amerian Perspectives on Thanksgiving includes links to activities and materials to teach students about Thanksgiving from the perspective of Native Americans.
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.
I have writing task cards to help students write about Thanksgiving. I include pictures to help with vocabulary and to generate ideas. Topics include what students are thankful for and describing foods that they eat.
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 picture writing prompts.
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
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.
Language Arts Thanksgiving Activities
For language arts, students can compare and contrast Thanksgiving with other harvest holidays from around the world with a set of harvest festival reading passages.
I also have sight word puzzles with Thanksgiving vocabulary. Students match a sight word with a sentence that used the word in context.
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.