Top 14 Classroom Ideas for Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it is that one time of the year where teachers all across America can think of fun Thanksgiving activities for their students that will definitely put them into the holiday mood! 

Many different Thanksgiving activities can be done during class time and these are our top classroom activities you can do with your students, from elementary to high school, to bring some fall excitement into your school.

Gratitude activities; the holiday to be thankful

One of the important aspects of Thanksgiving is remembering all the things we should be grateful for and taking the time to appreciate all the wonderful joys we have. This is an important lesson that you can teach your students and here are different gratitude activities you can do for them to be thankful. These were our favorites! 

1. Gratitude Jars

One of the easiest activities is to get your class to make a gratitude jar. You can tell your students beforehand to bring in a jar of their choice into the planned class. This can allow them to either bring a jar that has decoration already or a plain one they can decorate on later. 

During the class, ask your students to jot down everything they are thankful for on slips of paper and place them into their own gratitude jar. You can help them to give some inspiration and examples of your own, allowing them to brainstorm ideas. The great reason for the jar is that there doesn’t need to be a fixed amount that needs to be written. Your students can choose how much they want to fill out in the jar. 

At the end of the exercise, your students can share some of the things they wrote and this can create a great bonding experience. Let your students know that this jar can be kept safely in their room and whenever they need to open it, they can, allowing them to be reminded that there are wonderful things in their life to celebrate. If they want, they can keep filling it up until next Thanksgiving!

2. Gratitude Cards

What better way to let someone special know how much you are grateful to have them in your life than by gifting them a specially designed card! Your class can take the time to create them and is a fantastic way for their creative art side to come out. Each card can have special elements related to that specific person too. 

Not only is this a great art activity for many ages, but will also help the children to learn how to appreciate those that help them in their lives. Whether it is a classmate, their parents, siblings, or even their teacher. 

3. Thankful Turkeys

Thankful turkeys are truly a traditional activity to do during these holidays and it is easy and fun, especially for the younger students. You can easily use a template to print out and the kids can use them to write out all the items they are thankful for on the feathers of the turkey. Once they have jotted down the items they are most thankful for, they can then color in their turkey however they like. 

4. Thankful Tree

Of course, the Thankful Tree is another well-known activity that can be done not only to help your students to be thankful in their lives, but this can also be a group activity for the whole class to contribute to by creating a large tree to be displayed onto the wall of your classroom. 

It can also be a great way to allow the students to look back on the year they have had together and all they accomplished. A great way to form a strong bond for them with not just their friends but as a class as a whole. A form of comradery!

5. Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade has become an annual tradition whereby millions of families across America tune in and watch the parade. Its story goes back to 1924 and creating an event to teach your students about the parade is both exciting and knowledgeable. 

You can start the class with a little history lesson and you can even include a fun video explaining how the Macy’s parade began and your students can learn how the event grew, even leading it to be televised live for millions of viewers to watch. 

Once they know about the parade, this is where the fun can begin! Depending on the ages of your students, they can brainstorm and plan on how they would host the parade, citing what floats they would design based on the popular shows of the year or any of their favorite books, tv characters, or celebrities they would want to be featured. This activity can not only be exciting but help them to brainstorm and be creative, especially when it comes to creating an important event. 

To enhance this idea up a level, you can then get your students to create costumes of the ideas they had. This activity can be in groups and each group designs one costume, which is the main float that would be featured if it was a real Macy’s parade. This will help to build teamwork and also presentation skills, whereby at the end of the assignment each group explains their costume and why they chose it. Showcasing their floats will truly be a fun story they will be telling their parents too. 

Thanksgiving Decorations

A Thanksgiving holiday would not be complete without having some decorations! Getting your class to create different decorations is another great, art activity for them and they can be displayed proudly in the classroom or be taken home to be part of their family Thanksgiving dinner. 

6. Making a Thanksgiving Bouquet

One popular decoration that can be made is the Thanksgiving bouquet. You can encourage your students to go outside and gather the dry flowers and leaves that have fallen during this Fall and gather them together, creating a beautiful bouquet. You can also explain to them how this used to be a popular activity that was also done during the Colonial era. 

This bouquet can even be at the centerpiece of the dinner table for their families to enjoy! Just remind your students to make sure there are no bugs in the dried flowers or their family members will be truly surprised but perhaps not in a happy way. 

7. Pinecones Placement Cards

Pinecones can not only be found fallen around the neighborhood but can also be found at craft stores as well. They are the symbol of Fall! Get your students to collect a few before the next class and they can spend class time to decorate and paint their pinecones how they want them. They can then be used as beautiful place cards for Thanksgiving dinner. This can also help to encourage your students to be more involved in helping with the family Thanksgiving preparations, which we are sure their parents will be happy about. 

8. Paper Roll Turkey

Thanksgiving decorations would not be complete without a turkey! We found this fantastic video showcasing how to make cute turkey decorations using colored paper, an empty toilet roll, scissors, glue, and a stapler. Of course, do make sure your students use these items safely! It truly is a fun and bright way of making decorations, which we are sure your students will enjoy creating! 

9. Funky Turkey 

Besides the paper roll turkey, they also included cute, printable turkey designs that your students can use to create funky turkey designs. These turkeys can be any colors they want. Colouring is known to be a great way for anyone to relieve stress and this activity will help them to get into the Thanksgiving mood whilst also having fun! 

10. Handprint Turkey

The handprint turkey is a truly common and easy design that can be done, which is great if your students are in elementary school. Just remember that this is going to be a messy paint activity, but a whole lot of fun! 

Make sure to have brown, yellow, orange, and red paint to be placed on the different parts of the child’s hand. Once all the students have done their handprint turkeys and designed them with eyes etc, these can be combined into one wall art display showcasing every student. Then after the holidays, these individual handprints can be given back to the students for their parents to keep. This will make a great memento they have and can see how big their child grows every year. Don’t forget to have them write their name before they are all combined for the class showcase! 

Maths, English, and History Activities

Celebrating Thanksgiving with your students doesn’t have to be all about the arts and crafts. Many other activities can also be done to get your students to have their analytical and methodological skills going. 

11. Story Dictogloss

Learning about Thanksgiving and its origins is not only an interesting history lesson but the story can be used as a creative dictogloss for English class as well. The students can create their version based on the Thanksgiving story that you read out to them and what they remember was said, jotting down keywords mentioned. This will help to encourage students on their listening skills and to use their imaginations to create the origin story in their own words. This will also help them to improve their grammar and the way stories are written out. 

12. Cross Word Puzzles

Word puzzles are a great way to involve younger students in learning more about Thanksgiving. To get the answers, they will have to know more about the holiday. This can even be done as a fun homework assignment they need to work on, giving them more time to read up on the history of Thanksgiving. 

Creating your own crossword puzzle can be simply done online as well and enables you the freedom to tailor it to your students’ curriculum level. QuickSchools also found a ready-made Thanksgiving crossword template that you can also use as well. 

Another fun, word-based activity that you can create for your students is a Thanksgiving word search. Easy to make word searches can be found online and you can quickly create according to the vocabulary level your students are at and print out these templates. This can be a fun way to start the holidays for your students and get them into the holiday mood! 

14. Math Tasks for Thanksgiving

We came across some great ideas whereby math and problem-solving are mixed with the Thanksgiving theme. 

This Thanksgiving printable activity encourages students to enhance their problem-solving skills using math whilst encouraging them to discuss the holiday with their classmates. 

We all know that Thanksgiving involves a lot of shopping, especially at the grocery store! QuickSchools found a fun shopping activity that students can do to get into the holiday spirit. This printable activity allows them to use math by listing down all the items they would need for Thanksgiving and then calculating the cost. This can not only get them to be both analytic and creative (depending on the fun dishes they come up with) but also help them to realize how much work their families do for them to make this a joyous, family holiday. It all ties in with being thankful. 

We hope these ideas can help you in creating a fun activity for your students this Thanksgiving, and if you did any of them, please feel free to tag us on our social media. We would love to see what your students created! 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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