Thanksgiving Lesson Plans and Activities are always a fun way to teach American culture. But Thanksgiving lessons also raise timeless themes such as gratitude, types of food, and how we celebrate holidays in general. Plus, it’s nice to pop in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving sometimes and have some fun! So here’s some links to some of my most popular Thanksgiving activities and lesson plans.
Thanksgiving Lesson Plans and Activities
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving lesson plan is another great activity. The video does a great job of introducing the pilgrims and the Native Americans and the first thanksgiving. It also depicts the religious side of this holiday and the turkey and mashed potatoes. Even the football game is mentioned! You can also have fun introducing the Peanuts characters and running gags. Linus’ blanket, Sally’s crush on Linus, and Lucy always pulling away that football all are here. There are a number of comprehension questions for students to answer as they watch. There’s also a guide for teachers that breaks the movie into scenes. For each scene, there’s some key vocabulary, major themes, and a summary of the action. You can use it to break the viewing into parts. Or to pre-teach some vocab you think students might need to know. Or ask students to make their own outline of the video and then compare it to your outline.
- The Missing Mashed Potatoes. This is a clue by clue critical thinking mystery puzzle with a Thanksgiving theme. Maybe you had a favorite dish that you only ate on holidays. And everybody fought to get more than anyone else. In my family, it was the mashed potatoes. That’s what led me to write this mystery where students have to follow the clues to figure out who ate all the mashed potatoes!
- Looking for a quick warm-up for your Thanksgiving Lesson Plans and Activities? The Thanksgiving Word Association Brainstorm is exactly what it sounds like: A worksheet that asks students to name 5 things they associate with Thanksgiving. It’s a simple activity, but powerful. You can elicit vocabulary, use their answers as discussion prompts, discover misunderstandings your students have, create a word cloud, or ask students to share the reasons for their associations!
- Word Processing Skills Thanksgiving Day Edition is a fun activity that teaches students basic word processing skills. Students are given a text and rules on how to manipulate that text. In the process, they uncover a mystery message. This one is all about thankfulness! Tired of students that don’t know how to copy-and-paste? Want to make sure they know how to format in 12-point Times New Roman? Try this fun activity out.
- The Food and Holidays Lesson Plan gives students a chance to talk about their national food, then gives you a chance to discuss Thanksgiving and the traditional foods we eat on that holiday. Finally students get talk about their special holiday meals. It’s a great way to approach Thanksgiving with international students. They may not know a lot about this primarily American holiday, but they do know how to talk about food. It’s also a topic that is accessible to advanced, intermediate and beginner students.
- One part of the Food and Holidays Lesson Plan is the food and adjectives worksheet. In fact, I’ve designed it in two different ways: a Food and Adjectives Chart where students fill in words to describe tastes, ways of cooking, ways to describe food.
- For less advanced students, there’s also a Food Adjectives Cloze Worksheet that gives some more support in the form of sample vocabulary and sentence frames. Students can also graduate from this scaffolded version to the more open Food and Adjectives Chart.
This restaurant role play is how I teach beginner students to order at a restaurant. The goal of the lesson is to get them to do a role play of being at a restaurant, so the focus of the lesson is as communicative as possible. In addition, I have an intermediate/advanced level restaurant lesson that you can check out.
Restaurant roleplays are a great way to teach students survival skills. They also provide a basic customer service dialogue that they can modify. And I like how they absorb more complex grammar such as “would” without having to parse it just yet.
This full lesson plan helps ESL false beginners and low-level students practice ordering at a restaurant. The lesson includes:
- complete teacher notes
- a warm-up
- an exercise that elicits key language
- an exercise to write a sample dialogue
- work with some target vocabulary and grammar
- materials for a role play including sample menus and a sample dialogue for students to follow.
- To give students practice ordering in a restaurant
- To practice the structures “I would like” and “May I have”
- To promote fluency and automaticity
This restaurant role play lesson plan has been moved to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can purchase and download it there.
The Food lesson plan is one that goes over very well with students. It’s accessible to everyone. Beginners can handle describing their native dishes simply and you can push more advanced learners to describe detailed recipes. The lesson also has a multicultural aspect as the teacher can introduce common foods from his/her home country. Finally, the plan moves on to discussing holiday meals, which means this lesson can be used for any holiday, especially holidays that have associations with special foods: Christmas, New Years, May Day, Nauryz, Easter, Ramadan, Passover.
Or use it in conjunction with At the Restaurant to discuss restaurants and eating out.
Food and Holidays is a popular topic that almost all your students will have something to say about!
This is a pretty simple discussion lesson plan to get students talking about food from different perspectives. It can be used as part of a lesson, or supplemented with activities, games, and so on. I found this was a good lesson to do when I was still getting to know students because it is a pretty universal topic and as a foreigner in a foreign country, students love telling me about their traditional food. I talk about US foods and holidays here because I am American but obviously it could be used to talk about your own native cuisine instead. If you are American, it’s a great way to introduce Thanksgiving or other traditional holidays that revolve around food!
- To promote fluency and discussion
- To practice vocabulary related to food, tastes and ingredients
- To encourage students to describe in detail
- To talk about holidays and traditions and customs related to food
- Discussion Questions
- Food Adjective Cloze or Brainstorm Worksheet
- Pictures of typical American food (or food from your culture)
To prepare, put pictures of some typical American food on the board. For example:
but without the captions. Ask students to guess what these typical foods are. Then explain that in the US we also eat a lot of international foods. See if they can guess where these typical “American” foods come from.
Now ask students to name some of their national foods. Prompt them to describe the food in detail: what it is made out of, how it is made, how it is eaten, what it looks like, what it tastes like, etc. If you are familiar with their national cuisine you can prompt them. If you are not familiar, you can use your ignorance to elicit details. You can also get into what international foods have been absorbed into their culture and are now typical foods.
This activity has been moved to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. If you like this sample, you can purchase and download the full Food and Holidays Lesson Plan there.
And check out all my Thanksgiving lesson plans and activities here.