Thanksgiving week is a great time of the year to engage your students in creative and crafty cross-curriculum projects. The Thanksgiving theme is effective with ties not only social studies, but all subject areas like math, science, language arts, technology, and foreign languages. Thanksgiving lessons also lend themselves to be tied into social skills like sharing, giving, and being thankful.
Crafty Ideas from my Experiences
Many of the ideas that I have on this topic are generated from my experiences as a teacher. These are great ideas that you can incorporate in your school or classroom.
Class Feast – Hold a feast for students and invite parents. Students can prepare dishes at home to bring to school to share with their classmates. If students are not allowed to bring home prepared foods, many traditional Thanksgiving fare can be purchased already prepared from local grocery stores and restaurants. Students can make craft items like placemats, place cards, and Indian headdresses or pilgrim hats.
“Turkey Hand Poems” – Students write a short poem (like a haiku, acrostic, couplet, or limerick) about turkeys (or any other Thanksgiving theme). Students then trace their hand on construction paper and decorate it into a turkey. The poem is written or pasted (if typed on a computer and printed) onto the turkey hand. This can then be turned into a card or place setting for a Thanksgiving meal.
Food Drive – Students bring in canned and non-perishable foods to donate to local food banks, homeless shelters, veterans hospitals, or senior centers. Older students can help to organize the event by promoting the drive to the different classes, making flyers, collecting, and delivering the food. Students could even volunteer their time the day of Thanksgiving at a local charity to help serve Thanksgiving dinner. These ideas tie in with many business and computer education classes with the idea of marketing and desktop publishing along with community outreach. Providing direct responsibilities and roles for special needs students helps them in following through with their directed assignment in helping out for a food drive.
History Videos – Another great activity that incorporates technology with learning about History is showing videos about the history of Thanksgiving. This activity can be combined with a teacher-made guided worksheet. The videos available on The History Channel Website represent the true stories of the first Thanksgiving, the historical importance, and traditional customs of celebrating Thanksgiving today.
Native American Costumes – A great activity for younger students is to hold a Thanksgiving reenactment play. Students can be split into pilgrims and Native Americans. Students can make headdresses and pilgrim hats out of sentence strips. They can write short sentences in relation to a theme or activity about Thanksgiving. Students can make vests or outfits out of paper bags that can then be painted and decorated in traditional ways to represent Native Americans and pilgrims. A math connection can be made when making the feather headdresses by having the students put the feathers into patterns. The final result can be a short play reenacting the first Thanksgiving.
All of these activities can be adapted to meet the needs of any specific classroom or a school. Providing assistance or a buddy pairs with craft activities help students with limitations to participate in the activity.
Parents also love to volunteer during the holiday season so they can watch their students grow and learn with fun hands on activities. Teachers should welcome this help by assigning specific roles to the parents.
Sites with More Thanksgiving Craft Activities and Lessons
- Crafts & Coloring
- Curriculum Connects & Games/Activities
- Thanksgiving Recipes (for kids with restricted diets)
- Crafts & Activities (with adaptions for special needs kids)
Article By Laura Ketcham
Picture By StarMama