Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1941. This was when President Roosevelt designated the fourth Thursday in November as our country’s day of gratitude. In the classroom, November is a wonderful time to play some themed games and show your students how to give thanks. In this guide, we’ve shared 5 fun and educational ways to celebrate Thanksgiving at school.
First, ask your students to write down their favorite Thanksgiving dishes and traditions. Maybe they love mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, or candied yams. You can create a template for the students to write out the recipe for their favorite dish. Of course, they probably won’t know how to cook it, so their instructions will be hilarious and cute. Then, you can collect all of these recipes into an official classroom cookbook.
Gratitude is a concept that every child needs to learn. At the end of a lesson, you can wind the class down by asking students to list what they’re thankful for, from A to Z. For example, A might be “America” and “applesauce”, while F might be “friends” and “family”. For an extra fun activity, you can group students into teams and make it a buzzer-beating game. The first team with an answer wins a point.
Thanksgiving is about gratitude, but it’s also about giving back. Show your students the value of volunteer work by starting a canned food drive in the classroom. Ask each student to donate at least one can, so that needy families can have a special Thanksgiving meal. If the school allows it, take a field trip to the food bank or personally deliver the food to houses. Perhaps students can write a thoughtful letter to the family as well.
Who doesn’t love tracing their hand and transforming it into a colorful Thanksgiving turkey? All you need is some construction paper, colored pencils, and some magazines to cut and paste. Students can also grab a few fall leaves from outside, and paste them onto their art project for extra flair.
Still looking for Thanksgiving craft inspiration? Check out this article from Scholastic and you’ll be crafting and learning about Turkey Day in no time.
Finally, try hosting a special storytime to share the origin of Thanksgiving. Teach students about Native Americans, like Squanto, who taught the first Pilgrims how to grow corn and survive the winter. Then, explain how Governor William Bradford invited his Native allies to celebrate with a three-day feast in 1621. This eventually became the “first Thanksgiving.” Almost 250 years later, President Lincoln brought the country closer together by establishing a national Thanksgiving holiday during the Civil War. And in 1941, President Roosevelt cemented Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November.
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