Thanksgiving Activities for Secondary ELA

With the changing weather and the excitement of winter break just around the corner, this time of year means that students can get pretty squirrelly! Luckily, teaching students about Thanksgiving and the meaning of gratitude translates well into the secondary ELA classroom and there are plenty of important lessons to be had (and keep them busy in a good way!) Here are some of my favorite activities for this time of year.

The Thankful Student Bingo Challenge

This is a fun one to start at the beginning of November and check in with students throughout the month!

Students choose 5 challenges from the bingo game board horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Optionally, you can have students attempt blackout bingo to really make an impact. This resource also comes with a pre-challenge questionnaire and a post-challenge reflection to get students thinking and discussing during the whole process!

Thanksgiving Dinner Mad Libs

This one is great for upper elementary grades and is perfect as an early finisher activity. Have students write a no-pressure fun story! Students first fill out the parts of speech table with silly choices. Festive food adjective choices are included for inspiration like “crunchy,” “tangy,” and “buttery.” Then, they transfer their answers to the letter. Students can read their letters to each other or out loud to the class for some good laughs!

Write a Thanksgiving Menu

This was my absolute FAVORITE activity last November. Have your students flex their descriptive and creative writing skills while celebrating the giving season by writing a Thanksgiving menu! The menus students come up with don’t even have to be traditional Thanksgiving food; they could be inspired by different cultures and countries… Some of my students even went to the extreme and wrote about some funny (and sometimes gross!) choices. All around it was really fun and entertaining to see how excited they got about this!

This resource comes with a helpful worksheet with lists of food related adjectives + descriptors and there’s an example and rubric included. What’s really cool is that this resource also comes with digital versions of every resource! You can post this instantly to Google classroom if you want to save on paper.

Thanksgiving Poetry Stations

If you can dedicate a class period of 50 minutes-1 hour, this is such a fun choice for secondary ELA. For this one, students rotate stations and write 7 different types of autumn and Thanksgiving-themed poetry: acrostic poetry, visual poetry, magnetic poetry, haikus, paint chip poetry, ode poetry, and shape poetry. If you yourself have never heard of some of these types of poetry, you can learn right along with the students! They’re all chosen to be engaging and quick to learn.

Instructions and manipulatives are included for every station for easy printing. Students record their poetry in a memorable keepsake Thanksgiving Poetry Mini Book with space for every station. Students love to share their poetry with each other – everyone always has a unique spin on every type of poem!

Gratitude Bloom Ball

This is a fun, hands-on activity that will help your students understand the meaning of gratitude this Thanksgiving season. A Bloom ball is actually a 12-sided shape (a dodecahedron). Students fill out each Bloom ball panel with something they’re thankful for with the given prompts – or give them a blank template for their own ideas! Each panel is also editable so you can customize prompts for your own classroom. It also makes for a great keepsake craft to take home!

Hope these ideas put you in the giving spirit! Happy teaching and happy Thanksgiving!


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