Tuesday, November 1, 2016

18 Thanksgiving Content Activities, sites and Lessons Kids Will Love!

I don't know about you, but during the holidays my kids are always just a little nutty. It helps SO much to have activities, books, lessons and even good bulletin boards on hand that go along with the holiday. It's like harnessing all that excitement and putting it to a good educational use! Below are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them to!

Let's start off with a great place to get lesson plans (already done....bless them!) on everything Thanksgiving. Includes reading a chart, videos, investigating the first Thanksgiving, Indian folktales, the Mayflower and so much more!

These terrific lesson on the First Thanksgiving are for grades 3-5 and from Scholastic. The site includes ALL of the materials you need (free) and covered 15 Common Core State Standards! This is seriously one great set of lesson plans!

This site from TeacherVision has everything you could want! There are tons of lessons that are both content, and some just for fun! They cover reading and language arts, Native Americans, slideshows, printables, lessons plans and so much more! This one will give you great content lessons for the entire month!

Scholastic has its act together...for sure with this site! It is perfect for fourth and fifth graders and includes teacher's guides!

For the Native American people's perspectives on Thanksgiving don't miss this great site! 


No one is really sure how the turkey got its name, but...there are a few stories!
a. Christopher Columbus thought that he was in india, so he thought the bird was a type of peacock. He called it "tuna" which is eacock in an Indian language. The turkey is actually a type of pheasant.
b.  The name the Native Americans gave the bird is "firkee", and that sounds a bit like turkey.
c.  Or...a turkey makes a "turk, turk, turk" noise and that may be the origin of the name!

1.  Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey as our national bird instead of the bald eagle
2.  45 million turkeys are sold at Thanksgiving
3.  It takes a turkey 4=5 months to grow to maturity
4.  Only tom turkeys (the male) gobble
5.  Turkeys are the only breed of poultry that are native to the Western Hemisphere
6.  Turkeys can see in color, and have great hearing (even though you can't see their ears)
7. Domesticated turkeys can't fly, but wild turkeys can fly over short distances at speeds of up to 55 mph
8.  Wild turkeys often spend the night in trees
9.  The red fleshlike thing that hands off of a turkey's next is called a wattle.

Great Thanksgiving books for kids

1. The Mayflower and the Pilgrims new world by Nathaniel Philbrick. Students will understand the emptiness of coastal Massachusetts that greeted the Pilgrims, and find out how they learned to live with the Native Americans.

2.  My all time personal favorite is "Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving" by Dav Pilkey. A class's trip to a farm, just before Thanksgiving, ends up with a turkey on the bus!

3.  To teach second and third graders what life was like at the time of the Pilgrims, you can do better than "Magic Tree House, Book 27: Thanksgiving on Thursday". Jack and Annie are whisked back to the time of the Pilgrims on the eve of the first Thanksgiving. 

4.  "Thank You Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving" by Laurie Halse is the story of how Sarah Hale helped make Thanksgiving an official holiday. 

Thanksgiving Activities

1.  Make a Thanksgiving book mark

2.  Coffee filter turkeys: I did this almost every year with my kids. Give each kid a coffee filter, markers and a paper plate. Have a spray bottle handy for each table (or group of four of five students). They can color the filters as they wish, but all areas of the filter should be colored in some way with no white showing. Next put the filter on the paper plate and spray lightly with the spray bottle. The colors will run and mix.  I lay out a large sheet of bulletin board paper to then put the wet coffee filters on. Let dry overnight. Then make a turkey body and glue to the front of the coffee filter (which becomes the tail).  This makes a great cover for a Thanksgiving greeting card too. Just glue the finished turkey onto the front of the card. 

3.  Make a Thanksgiving cinquain poem.  Make a word web of things students see, hear, taste, smell or do at Thanksgiving. If students are not familiar with conquain poem they go like this:

One word (title
two words (describe the title)
three words (action)
four words (feeling)
one word (the title again)

It might look something like this:

Family dinner
Hustling,  bustling, laughing
Happiness is smiles wide

4.  After reading a number of books about what it was like in the time of the pilgrims, ask students to write five days worth of diary entries that a pilgrim child might write about their day. 

It's always helpful to have a choice of Thanksgiving worksheets to pull out when you need them. This site is terrific and is FULL of free worksheets that are pretty cute.

Don't miss this one...tons!!

Here are some great Thanksgiving bulletin boards/decorated doors I found on Pinterest. Love them all!

From My Classroom Ideas.com

This one just goes to an image, but it's an awesome door decoration!

Everything's better with minions!

And finally one more door!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

To get TONS of freebies and lots of great ideas for your classroom visit me on Pinterest at: 

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