Thanksgiving Tips and Activities for English Language Learners
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time 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.
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.
I have a FREE writing set to help student write about what they are thankful for. Read more about it HERE.
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 ESOL students.
Include Multiple Perspectives
As you teacher students about Thanksgiving here are resources to help students learn about the history 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
Integrate Thanksgiving Vocabulary into Content Lessons
I have created Thanksgiving Parts of Speech Coloring Sheets, Thanksgiving themed illustrated vocabulary sheets, and Thanksgiving word searches. that are organized by parts of speech. The vocabulary sheets are helpful for students when they are speaking and writing about the holiday.
Language Arts Thanksgiving Activities
For language arts I have sight word puzzles with Thanksgiving vocabulary. Students match a sight word with a sentence that used the word in context.
Math Thanksgiving Activities
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.