Thanksgiving is my favorite Holiday to celebrate at school! Here is a collection of activities I’ve stolen, accumulated, and tried in my own classroom over the past few years to celebrate Thanksgiving.
- Thanksgiving Play- I WISH. Every year I say I’m going to plan a real, old-fashioned grade level play for Thanksgiving. Every year I am overwhelmed and never find the time to get to it! BUT I’ve improvised by doing Reader’s Theaters instead. I have stalked and downloaded every single free Thanksgiving Reader’s Theater script I can find online and on Teachers Pay Teachers. I set the kids up in groups with a script. They then spend time practicing their part in the play. They have time to make a costume for their character. By the end of the day we perform our plays for other classes and parents who are able to make it to watch. The kids are allowed to just read from their scripts. This does take a good amount of time from practicing, to costume making, to performing. But it’s educational! (Reading fluency practice-I’ll take it!)
- Thanksgiving Feast- Another teacher told me this idea and I desperately wanted to do it last year but I had a class full of random food allergies (literally almost every kid was allergic to something so it made planning food parties difficult) so I have yet to do this one. But the teachers contacted their local KFC and worked out a deal for their grade level. They collected $2-3 per child and had drumsticks, mashed potatoes, corn, and biscuits brought in from Kentucky Fried Chicken. They dressed the kids up as Pilgrims and Native Americans and reenacted the first thanksgiving with their own feast!
- Charlie Brown Thanksgiving- so if the feast listed above is too much work than just ask the students to bring in jelly beans, bread, butter, popcorn and pretzels. You bring in your toaster from home and boom you have a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving! You can let the kids feast on this meal while you watch the movie. I did this in kindergarten and the kids loved it.
- Pair up with another class to learn about Pilgrims and Native Americans- I also did this one in kinder! Believe it or not. My class spent the day learning and making all things Native American. We made costumes, gifts (dyed noodle necklaces), and informational books. Then we left to go on our “journey to the Pilgrims for the first Thanksgiving dinner” aka we paraded down the hallway in our costume to the first grade classroom. They in-turn had spent their day learning about Pilgrims, and making Pilgrim costumes and Pilgrim things. We then paired the kids off and each kid went and taught the other one what they had learned about Pilgrims and Native Americans. They read each other their books they made and my class gave them their gift they made. Then we had a Thanksgiving Feast together.
- Hide the Turkey- My grade level teammate does this every year and it’s adorable.. She reads the story Turkey Trouble and then gives the kids a paper turkey and they have to disguise it so that it won’t be caught for Thanksgiving dinner. You could send this home for them to do or give them materials and have them do it in class. Then have a contest and vote on the best Turkey disguise. (Thanks Mrs. Wilson!)
- Pie Party- I made a cute TPT product that is basically a Pie survey to find out what the best flavor or Pie is. Invite your class to bring in a pie and spend time as a class sampling all the different Pie flavors. Have your students make, color, or paint their favorite pie for a bulletin board. Then send them home with a Pie survey so they can do it at their family Thanksgiving. On the following Monday have them complete their bar graph and make a giant class graph to attach to your bulletin board announcing the favorite pie flavor for the season.
- Turkey Trot- my school does this every year. The students (in the entire school) make a Turkey Hat. They either make them at home or the classroom makes them together. Then they run around the track gobbling and wearing their hat. After they cross the finish line the grade levels vote on most creative Turkey Hat. The parents love this and all come to snap photos of their little turkeys!
- Be a Pilgrim or Native American for the day- This is one of my favorite activities. I made nametags with a boy Native American or Pilgrim name on it and the same for girls. I put them in two brown paper bags one for girls and one for boys. They pull a name tag out and that’s who they are for the day! They will then make a hat to go with their name so girls will make a bonnet for pilgrim or a head dress for Native American. Boys will make a vest for Native American or Pilgrim hat if they pull a pilgrim. They then wear their hat and name tag all day and we do our best to call them by their new name for the day. The kids LOVE this! You can buy my pre-made name tags in my TPT store. I made them in both color and black and white so you can choose if you want to laminate them to use again each year or let the kids color and decorate their own.
- Kick it Old School! – Every year I’m searching for the best classroom party activities and last year I finally realized that kids have so much fun just playing the games we grew up with. So bust out the Thanksgiving Bingo, and pin those Feather’s on that Turkey, and go on a scavenger hunt. Your students will love it. Last year I had a student tell me “this is the best day of my life” while we were playing Thanksgiving Bingo…… LOL
- Thanksgiving Service Project- This one I’m still trying to find some more ideas on. I believe this should be incorporated more in our classrooms. When I was little we had a nursing home within walking distance to our school. We had grade level holidays where a grade level would walk over and sing Christmas Carols or give Valentines to the elderly. There’s no better way to teach students about Thanksgiving then having them do something for others. Maybe invite parents in and let them serve them “Thanksgiving Dinner” to show their families how grateful they are to them. Or spend the time making care packages for the Troops who have to spend their holidays overseas. My school usually does a canned food drive but I feel like the kids just come in and throw their cans in the bin and never really give it more thought than that, so I’ m trying to think of different ideas for this one.
What do you do in your classroom to celebrate Thanksgiving? Please share your fun activities and ideas here!