Canadian Thanksgiving was on October 13th, so really, the celebration has been going on for some time now. It’s a good reminder that being thankful is not something that happens just one day a year; “giving thanks” should be a year-round occurrence.
We asked our Teacher-Authors what they’re grateful for and how they’ll include Thanksgiving in their curriculum in the upcoming months. Keep reading for both inspirational stories and curriculum — a total feast!
A Tradition of Teaching Gratitude
Store motto for Kacie Travis is, “I don’t teach math, I teach students.” She knows that sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to create an attitude shift. She says, “Since moving to high school and teaching some remedial Math classes, I’ve found that often my students are feeling pretty down about life and the circumstances that have caused hardships. They often want to blame others for their grades/lack of understanding or complain about the reasons they feel they’re unable to be successful.
So, each day for bell work, they had a task before they answered their review questions. For five weeks, they wrote three new things they were thankful for each day. They really struggled at the beginning and were frustrated and angry at my assumption that they had new things to be thankful for. I pushed them to try and by the end of the ‘Gratitude Project,’ as I called it, they found it much easier to find some positives in their lives. Their habit of mind was much more open to looking for some positive rather than focusing all on the negative. These types of exercises are important for opening their own doors to learning Math that many of them closed long ago.” Take a look at her Thanksgiving Subtracting Fractions Task Cards.
Ellen Weber – Brain based tasks for upper grades agrees. “Students express surprise that thanks is more a state of mind than a state of benefits. They also find it cool that thankfulness can recharge a brain on tough days. It’s always fun to teach brain facts related to thankfulness — such as the fact that a thankful action literally reconfigures the brain to ensure more of the same!
We just got called into a setting where folks were focusing on conflicts — and our brain-based approach refocused the group on building doable pathways forward. My students use this thankfulness tool in much the same way, but it’s an adventure for all to see it in action.
Also, we just got recognized at the brain center as having transferable ways to raise the collective IQ of groups — through applying practical strategies that rev up brainpower.” Take a look at her Teach Thanks Through Brain Based Task Cards.
“I love this time of year when we slow down and put a little more gratitude in our attitude,” says Brain Waves Instruction. “After all, it’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy.
In the classroom, one of my favorite units to teach around the Thanksgiving holiday is a literature study of Langston Hughes’ short story, ‘Thank You, M’am.’ The story teaches about gratitude and how it truly takes a village to raise a child. It’s a beautiful message this time of year. Students love the story and the interactive file folder filled with activities to help them actively demonstrate their learning.” Here’s the link to her Interactive File Folder, Interactive Notebook, “Thank You M’am” Literature Study.
Talking about being thankful can extend into speech classes. “I like speaking with students about Thanksgiving and what they’re thankful for,” says thedabblingspeechie. “This is why I made a craftivity to work on articulation for speech sounds and expressions of thanks at the same time. I also work with students who have language disorders, so I like to teach language concepts by themes.” Here’s her Count Your Blessings Thanksgiving Themed Figurative Language Activities resource.
DON’T bottle up your feelings, but DO create a Thankful Jar! CampingTeacher says, “Each year, my school has a tradition of having a Thanksgiving dinner… actually it’s a Thanksgiving lunch! We set up tables in our school gym with decorations and music. The cafeteria employees serve a glorious Thanksgiving feast to the students, parents, and staff. I look forward to it every year and I know my students do, too!
Last year, during Thanksgiving, our principal was struggling with her health and it was causing her to feel like she was really letting us down. Each classroom surprised her with a gift to cheer her up. My class created a Thankful Jar for her. She loved it so much I decided to offer it as a free item in my store for others who may need to give a little thanks during the Thanksgiving season!”
Please Pass the Math “Potatoes”
Sheila Cantonwine loves incorporating Thanksgiving into her math curriculum with resources such as her Differentiated Thanksgiving Decimal Bundle. She says, “Practicing math can sometimes be tedious and boring for students but these differentiated worksheets have adorable turkeys watermarked on the pages to get everyone in the Thanksgiving mood!”
Misty Miller says, “I’ll be doing fall math activities in my classroom. I have several ones that focus on real-world math word problems for a fall party and Thanksgiving Dinner. You’ll also find math activity sheets with a fall theme, and of course, a fall food activity packet.” Yum!
Tasty morsels abound in Angelica’s Resources TpT store. “During the month of November, my students truly enjoy when any assignment is spiced up with cute images such as turkeys and pumpkins. For example, during math centers they can have fun working with these adorable Thanksgiving Number Cards.”
That Rocks Math Science and ELA spices up the holidays with diversity. “I adore working with middle schoolers — with all their insecurities, silliness, and best of all getting to watch them grow and mature. I love my school, with its socioeconomic diversity and mixture of kids from 20 + countries, including Iraq, Haiti, Bosnia, Mexico, and Columbia. Many of them know better than me how blessed we are in America and how much we truly have to be thankful for. I had a former ELL student return today to interview me for an education class she’s taking as she prepares to go into the field of education, too. It’s so rewarding to see ‘my kids’ growing up and becoming professionals in the field I love so much.” And we appreciate YOU bringing Thanksgiving Logic Puzzles to the table!
A Cornucopia of Thanksgiving ELA
everything just so has a departmentalized classroom and says, “I always struggled to find the perfect balance between rigor and fun during the short Thanksgiving week. I decided to create three lessons that would give students the academic practice I felt they needed and activities they would enjoy.
Each day, we completed a different close reading practice using a passage I wrote on the history of Thanksgiving. When students were finished, they worked on one of the three activities with a partner or small group. On day one, students used the story cards to retell the passage to a partner and then make up a story of their own. On day two, students wrote letters, poems, and paragraphs explaining why they are thankful. On the last day, students used their writing to create a Thankfulness tree.
At the end of the week, I felt content that I had provided my students with meaningful ELA work, and they were happy to have letters, poems, and crafts to take home and give to their families.” Here’s her Thanksgiving Mini-Unit.
So many delightful options — no reason to limit yourself! Fifth in the Middle says, “I vary what I do from year to year. We’re at a place in our class where we are currently studying the Separatists and Plymouth. I have also done a turkey-in-disguise writing activity. And this year we will do these Thanksgiving Common “Core”ses – ELA Center for Upper Elementary.”
Feast your eyes on this thought-provoking resource from Julie Faulkner who says, “Often times, I’m so busy trying to get things done that I forget to slow down and remember all the ways I am blessed — and to enjoy life. I think, unfortunately, that is true for society in some ways, too. That spills over into our habits and behaviors. For the past few years, I’ve done a literacy lesson with my secondary ELA students with the theme of slowing down and being thankful. We look at a very thought-provoking set of info texts to determine if we as a culture have begun to contradict the very meaning behind the holiday. The lesson is called From Thanksgiving Thursday to Black Friday: A Cultural Contradiction.”
Some Scientific “Stuffing”
See what’s cooking in Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy kitchen, er, store: “We are so thankful to TpT for providing us with an outlet to create science lessons and affect so many children in classrooms throughout the world. And because of that, we love to offer fun and engaging science lessons for every holiday, including Thanksgiving.” Take a gander at their Camouflaging Tom Turkey resource. “Students work with camouflage to disguise Tom Turkey from all the hungry dinner guests! They can disguise their turkey using one of the ‘outfits’ we provide, or they can make their own. When they’re finished, we have them fasten their turkey to a popsicle stick and parade it around the school! They have a blast dressing Tom up as an amoeba, mushroom, and even Einstein!”
Get a jump-start on Christmas, says Science Stuff. “Teach your middle and high school students how to use a dichotomous classification key while instructing them on the importance of holiday giving and community service.
Students will use this ‘scientific’ classification key to identify the scientific name of various candies and toiletries. As the activity progresses, students will place the candies in small stockings and the toiletries in plastic bags so that they can be donated to local food banks, homeless shelters, or nursing homes.”
How about this? Determine if it’s the turkey or the over-eating that causes the after-meal doze state, says Biology Roots. “Gobble Gobble Zzzz is a science-themed activity in which students read about tryptophan and turkey and come to their own conclusions as to whether or not they think tryptophan really does cause that post-Thanksgiving-meal fatigue!”
And for the kids’ table, try Erin Waters’ Cran You Believe it? November Science Experiments resource. “In my classroom, we’ll do science experiments from my November Science Bundle. From cranberries to turkeys to camouflage (for Veterans Day), to growing ‘crops,’ we cover it all! Students take a hands-on approach as they investigate air pockets inside cranberries, various animal body coverings, and candy camouflage. They even grow their own crops to predict and identify seeds vs. non-seeds! It’s a whole month full of festive fun!”
What a sensational spread of resources — and we didn’t even get to dessert! You can find more for your Thanksgiving table (and classroom) on Teachers Pay Teachers! Please help yourself to seconds and thirds. There is always something to be thankful for.