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Five Activities to Celebrate and Teach Thanksgiving in the Classroom
Although the celebration of Thanksgiving goes back to the days of the pilgrims, it did not become an official holiday until 1941. That is when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially proclaimed the fourth Thursday in November to be the official national day of Thanksgiving. Here are just a few activities teachers can use in their classrooms to honor the day and teach their students the concept of giving thanks.
Gratitude journals with a twist.
It is common for teachers to have students make lists of items for which they are grateful. The routine list will include things like “a house to live in” or “food to eat.” An idea that turns routine into fun is to list things that are annoyances and turn them into things to be grateful for. For example, “I am grateful I get to do the dishes after dinner because it means I had food to eat.”
Students of all ages enjoy creating collages. Save magazines and advertisements from newspapers. Have students cut out pictures that represent things to be grateful for like food, houses, vacation spots, clothes, people etc. Students then creatively glue the pictures on construction paper or poster board.
“Buy” groceries for the Thanksgiving meal.
This is a good math activity that works well for all grades. It teaches math skills and how much it costs to prepare a basic Thanksgiving feast.
Students discuss their favorite foods eaten at Thanksgiving dinner and write them on the board. Students make their own menus and grocery lists. They decide how many people they will need to buy food for.
Provide students with circulars from grocery stores that list the prices of the food. Have the students figure out how much of each product they will need for their meal and have them calculate how much it will cost.
Younger students may enjoy having play money to buy their food. A variation can be to have the students buy their food based on a predetermined budget.
This is a simple activity that requires no planning. Use it when students have finished their work early. They write down the letters of the alphabet and list as many things under each letter they are grateful for. For example, under “A” they may include “apples” and “Aunt Mary.”
The activity can be extended by having them go back over their list and choose some words to use in a poem about Thanksgiving and gratitude.
Practice random acts of kindness.
Encourage students to practice random acts of kindness throughout the month of November. Put up a bulletin board with a tree in the center. Students write down their kindness act on a leaf and add it to the board. See how many leaves are on the board at the end of the month.
Emphasize that acts can be little things, like picking up something another person dropped on the floor, doing a chore at home without being asked or writing a thank you note.