Fall is always a great season to incorporate fun Thanksgiving activities in your classroom as a great way to recognize the holiday. Teachers often face the challenge of maintaining rigorous academic standards but still want to incorporate some holiday-themed fun; yep, Thanksgiving activities. You’ve WAITED for this fun, but you feel stressed about giving up any precious instructional time for it.
What if I told you that you could incorporate Thanksgiving activities while continuing to refine your students’ nonfiction reading and writing skills? Would you believe me if I said you don’t have to give up ANY time to do this?
I want to share my tips and tricks as to how I seamlessly blend the holiday season with essential classroom learning. Let’s explore two simple ways to effortlessly embed this History of Thanksgiving passage into your day-to-day teaching.
Thanksgiving Activities: Cut Them Up!
The beautiful thing about nonfiction text is that we can almost always count on it to teach chronological order or sequencing. A super QUICK and easy way to do this is to simply print a Thanksgiving passage and cut it up. I like to place these in baggies or zipper pouches (LOVE these zipper pouches from Amazon and use them in stations because of the durability. (This is an affiliate link which means we may receive a commission if you make a purchase) Divide your students into station groups (as many as you desire) and give each group their bag of the cut-up passage.
Students will then be instructed to sort the passage out and piece it back together in chronological order. Not only does this help with understanding sequence, but it also forces students to understand the context of the passage and flow of the text. Look at all that learning!
Next, after students get the article in order, they can then work together to read it and answer the comprehension cards as a group. This provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn from each other and collaborate. We know there is SO much value in that. See? We didn’t just waste time reading about Thanksgiving. We added valuable and applicable content to refine our constantly spiraled reading skills.
Thanksgiving Activities: Write Them Out!
Another simple thing I have done to incorporate a Thanksgiving activity into my curriculum is to keep the theme across my entire ELA block. By doing this, you will not only be building nonfiction reading skills, but you’ll also help students apply their new knowledge of this holiday in a meaningful way through writing.
I like to let students select (you heard it – student choice!) one of the writing tasks to complete independently after they have finished station work. I typically print them and put them on a binder ring, but using the printable page for students to respond on works really well too. Now I have provided an opportunity for my students to foster their writing skills while learning about the Thanksgiving holiday.
Writing is always an area where students can use practice so by connecting this holiday, students will be engaged knowing they are exploring the holiday theme. There are also a variety of writing tasks so students get exposure to writing with different audiences as a focus and for different purposes. There are 6 different writing genres so they definitely cater to different student interests.
This also makes a great entrance activity in the morning. As students enter and get settled, you can display a writing task on the board or have it on their desk and engage them right off the bat! These are supposed to be fun so you can also let students partner up and write together if you prefer!
Thanksgiving Activities Don’t Have to Deviate
One of the challenges in incorporating seasonal activities is the fear of deviating from the curriculum. The good news? You CAN solve the problem by providing a smooth integration of Thanksgiving-themed content into your existing ELA curriculum. Ensure that the reading passage, comprehension questions, and writing activities align with key ELA standards so that your students continue to develop their skills while embracing the holiday spirit.
Focusing on questioning will aid in reading comprehension so this is a definite plus. Students can answer the questions orally or practice writing in complete sentences. Your class will love learning about the history of Thanksgiving and not even realize that they are WORKING on their reading and writing skills. By integrating this holiday with your ELA curriculum, you are ensuring that Thanksgiving is not just a holiday, but an educational experience they’ll cherish. You don’t HAVE to skip out on the fun, just integrate it! So go ahead, and make Thanksgiving a valuable part of your ELA classroom this year.