Thanksgiving Activities and Lesson Plans

The Thanksgiving pages will provide you with great activities and resources for this day of being thankful. Ideas within this section include: thematic units, easy craft ideas, bulletin boards, coloring sheets, and Internet resources.

Your creativity can help other teachers. Submit your Thanksgiving activity today. Don't forget to include additional resources-documents, web sites, or a photo.

New Activities

ThanksgivingThanksgiving Day is a harvest festival that is celebrated in the U.S. and Canada (among other countries). Historically, Thanksgiving was intended to give thanks to God, but more recently has become a more secular holiday. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday in November (Canada celebrates it on the second Monday in October).

Thanksgiving Day dates: (U.S.)
November 27, 2014
November 26, 2015
November 24, 2016

Check our November Events Calendar for more important dates

The Teacher's Corner Resources This indicates resources located on The Teacher's Corner.

  • Pinecone Turkey
    Pinecone TurkeyPinecone Turkey Supplies

    Materials:

    • Pinecone
    • Googly eyes
    • Orange foam (cut into a small double-triangle shape)
    • Red pipe cleaner (cut into a small section and then curved)
    • Construction paper – orange, red, yellow, white, and brown
    One note about the materials – the size of your eyes, beak and wattle depend on the size of your pinecones.
    • Use glue to attach the eyes, beak and wattle. (If you have parent volunteers helping, you might want to have them use a hot glue gun to attach them for the students.)
    • Students trace one hand on each color of construction paper.
    • Students cut out the hands, spread them apart and glue them to the back of the pinecone.

  • Thanksgiving Bulletin Boards Grades Various
    Don't forget to check out the Thanksgiving Bulletin Board Ideas!
  • Log Cabins Grades Primary
    Put those school milk cartons to good use. "To make a Pilgrim or Abraham Lincoln cabin, wash out school milk boxes, dry them and staple them shut again. Paint the boxes brown or cover them with a 2-inch strip of brown paper. The children can glue small straight pretzels that lay like logs all around the box. Next, cover the roof with a piece of brown paper and sprinkle with brown colored coconut. (To color coconut just add food coloring to it and shake it up in a plastic bag.) This makes a fun Thanksgiving project for the little ones."
    Idea Submitted by: Vera Crisafulli verac@email-removed , a kindergarten teacher at Jefferson School in Glendive, Montana. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly Tip Newsletter.
  • Thanksgiving Crosswords Grades Any
    These crosswords were created entirely using our popular free crossword maker. Download these PDF's by clicking on them or make your own in seconds!
    Thanksgiving Crossword 1 Thanksgiving Crossword 2 Thanksgiving Crossword 3 Thanksgiving Crossword
    *Note: All of these thanksgiving crosswords use the same word/clue lists. Download the Keys: Key 1, Key 2, Key 3, Key 4. Make your own at the link above.
  • My Thankful Place Mat Grades Any
    This is an art activity in which you can take a piece of construction paper (fall colors) and let the child glue on leaf shapes and then let them tell you what they are thankful for and you can dictate they're answers onto the leaves. Put they're names in the middle and laminate the place mat for years of use. To give it they're own special touch, they might want to color it.
    Activity Submitted by: Anna Daub Poohpdoo@email-removed
  • Squanto Grades Any
    Great corn growing activity for students. This is a great idea to allow the little ones to "see" how the corn was planted. Of course, I read this in a magazine.
    1. You will need a simple story of Squanto (to the age of the preschool group)
    2. A few coloring book style of fish, to cut out (if they are able)
    3. Brown construction paper (this is your dirt, or you can tear pieces of brown to "make dirt", then...
    4. Glue the fish to the torn glue paper, (or the colored brown crayon on white paper as dirt).
    5. Glue on pieces of real Indian corn, on top of the fish.
    6. Cover with more torn paper... Of course....adjust to the age...and improvise....could even use the Dirt Dessert with gummy fish, and candy corn....
    Submitted by: Beth Garlitz
  • Thanksgiving Word Searches Grades Any
    These word searches were created in their entirety using our free word search maker. You can download these premade word searches or make your own in seconds.
    Thanksgiving Word Search 1Thanksgiving Word Search 2Thanksgiving Word Search 3 Thanksgiving Word Search 4
    Keys: Key 1, Key 2, Key 3, Key 4
  • Thanksgiving Coloring Pages
    Lots of coloring pages that you can print and color!
  • Thanksgiving Journal Pages and Coloring Sheets
    Lots of journal pages and more coloring pages.
  • Turkey in Disguise Grades Any
    A great Thanksgiving Art activity. Make a turkey template. Draw a turkey outline on cardboard, about 12 inches tall. It should face forward, not in profile. Don't draw the tail feathers--you basically want a plucked turkey. I found a cartoon turkey on the Web that was easy to draw freehand. Cut out the cardboard turkey and use as a template to cut out tagboard turkeys for each student. Tell the students that Thanksgiving is coming and their job is to disguise their turkey so it doesn't end up on the Thanksgiving table. Provide construction paper, felt, fabric, yarn, etc. to glue onto their tagboard turkey. I have them glue one tiny feather peaking out from the disguise. Mount the turkeys on the bulletin board near a barn cutout that says "Turkey Hill Farm." Add the title "Turkeys in Disguise."

    Kids love the absurdity of this activity. They've disguised their turkeys as American flags, hippies, ballerinas, the Statue of Liberty, French chefs, Santa Claus--it's just a great creative activity!
    Submitted by: Eileen Thorpe
  • Thanksgiving Word Scrambles Grades Any
    These word scrambles were created in their entirety using our free word scramble maker. You can download these premade word scrambles or make your own in seconds.
    Thanksgiving Word Scramble 1 Thanksgiving Word Scramble 2 Thanksgiving Word Scramble 3 Thanksgiving Word Scramble 4
    Keys: Key 1, Key 2, Key 3, Key 4
  • Thanksgiving Dinner Grades 4
    A great lesson to apply real-world math skills and Thanksgiving. A lesson I like to do with my 4th graders is gather food ads from the local grocery store chains around Thanksgiving. First, you can give them a budget and a set number of guests and have them plan a meal. This uses many math skills (especially multiplication, where the prices of turkey are given in per lb.). Also, you can have them compare the meals in two different grocery stores. This is truly real world connections.
    Lesson Plan Submitted by: Virginia Richards, Shallowford Falls Elementary school in Marietta, Georgia VAH2O@email-removed
  • Thanksgiving Feast Grades Any
    A fun feast idea for any age of student. Each year my Kindergarten children churn butter using an antique churn and whipping cream. While the children are churning they are also practicing their counting to 100. My churn is an English crank-type so it is easy for the children to sit on the floor and turn the handle. A parent volunteer usually holds the base of the churn steady as each child takes a turn churning and counting 100 revolutions. Whipping cream is used as the only ingredient for the homemade butter. As the butter is being churned, we also stir up a large batch of cornbread, which we bake in the classroom in a toaster oven. The cornbread smells delicious as it bakes.

    After the butter is churned and the cornbread has cooled, the children eat the products dressed in their Indian and pilgrim costumes that they have made during the unit. The children use popsicle sticks to spread the butter onto their cornbread and stand up around the table, since little furniture and few utensils would have been had by the first settlers. Water or apple juice could also be served.
    Idea Submitted by: Gary garyn@email-removed
  • Thanksgiving Ideas Grades Intermediate
    A collection of nontraditional Thanksgiving ideas and activities for your students.
    Ideas Submitted by: Valley Blanton vblanton@email-removed, a fifth grade teacher at Lake Park Elementary School in Georgia. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly Tip Newsletter.
  • Turkey Hand & Poem Grades K-3
    Turn that cute turkey hand idea into something new! Have students make a turkey with their hands and decorate it. On the same paper, have them copy this poem:
    This isn't just a turkey,
    As anyone can see.
    I made it with my hand,
    Which is a part of me.
    It comes with lots of love.
    Especially to say,
    I hope you have a very happy
    Thanksgiving Day!
    Submitted by:   APool37253@email-removed
  • Thanksgiving Poems Grades Any
    Share these poems with your students.

  • Thanksgiving Songs Grades Any
    A collection of songs set to popular tunes.

More Lesson Plans! Also see our other November Lesson Plans, Thematic Units and Activities

A Pilgrim Conversation Grades 3-5
Students will write an imaginary conversation between a group of Pilgrims at the time they landed at Plymouth.

Coffee Filter Turkeys Grades K-5
A great craft activity that would compliment a bulletin board or writing project.

The First Thanksgiving Grades Various
Tremendous resources from the folks at Scholastic.

The First Thanksgiving: A Feast of Activities Grades Various
" Looking to cook up a feast of across-the-curriculum fun? The table is set with a plentiful selection of ideas. Dig in!"

Pilgrim Unit Grades 3-8
This unit will lead students towards an understanding of the Pilgrims and native people who inhabited the area of present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts in the 1620's. The main resources are children's books and other reference materials.

Thankful List Grades K-5
Students will learn to free-associate and create a poem.

Thanksgiving - From acbteach Grades Primary
Dozens of resources: lessons, printables, puzzles, and more.

Thanksgiving; The Mayflower Grades 1-4
Vocabulary development for the holiday of Thanksgiving; social studies concept of the settling of the New World.

Thanksgiving Theme Unit Grades Various
Critical thinking activities, reading comprehension, puzzles, and more.

Thanksgiving Weather & History
A weather almanac of the winter of 1620-'21.

Turkey Hand Puppets Grades Primary
A fun and simple art project using gloves.

Debbie's Unit Factory - Thanksgiving Links Grades Any
Quality Theme Units for Teachers and Homeschoolers - Find arts, crafts, and teaching ideas.

First Americans, Native American Studies Grades Any
An informational web site geared towards grade-schoolers.

Free Online Thanksgiving Greetings
A great site for fun and free Thanksgiving e-cards.

Indian Kids Grades Any
A history of Indian culture.

The Pilgrim Life Adventure Grades 1st
(A WebQuest) This lesson involves the students in learning about Pilgrim life and comparing it to their life. They will be learning about the Mayflower adventure and creating a vehicle for their own life adventure. They will also work with a group and create a play about their life adventure.

Thanksgiving Coloring Sheets Grades Any
Corn
Cornucopia
Turkey

Thanksgiving Story Grades K-2
A Rebus story -- Print out in color and share!!

EMAIL us your favorite Thanksgiving activity.