Teacher Resources, Lesson Plans, and Classroom Management Tips

Thanksgiving Unit

Thanksgiving Unit

Thanksgiving Unit

Getting Started

Introducing the Mayflower Journey: To start off our Thanksgiving unit, we read a story of the Mayflower journey. Before reading, I tape off a small square of floor space on our carpet for the students to sit. The space should be small so that the children are a bit "cramped" (but not so cramped that they won't pay attention to the story). Read the story together and explain that they Mayflower was small and cramped, much like the space where they are sitting. After the story give the children a small snack of crackers and cheese or dried beef - a close substitute for the true "Mayflower meal". After this experience, my children have a better understanding of the hardships and sacrifices that the Pilgrims endured on their trip across the Atlantic.

Literacy Activities

T is for Turkey Art Project: This idea is from Mailbox. The reproducible turkey head in the picture is from the magazine also. To make this project, cut out a class set of the letter T on any color paper. Ask your students to glue feathers to the top of the T shape. While the glue is drying, have each child color a pattern of a turkey head/neck. Glue head/neck to the T. So cute! This project is great if your letter of the week is T.

Thanksgiving Unit


Shared Writing:
  • Make a KWL chart of Pilgrims and/or Native Americans.
  • Make an imaginary journal with your students and write in it each day. Write a journal entry each day as if the class were on a Mayflower journey.
  • Brainstorming Ideas:
    • Thanksgiving foods
    • Items you would take on a trip
    • Things to be thankful for
    • Ingredients you would need for a recipe
  • Predictable Charts:
    • I will eat ___________.
    • I am thankful for _____________.
    • _______ is thankful for ________.
    • On Thanksgiving, I will help ________.
  • Make a diagram of the Mayflower and label its parts (sails, mast, crow's nest, hull, etc.)
  • Make a Venn diagram comparing the life of children now and Pilgrim children. You can also compare Thanksgiving in 1621 and Thanksgiving today.
Independent Writing:
  • Picketing Turkeys: This idea stems from the idea of the "Chick-fil-a" cows. If you've never seen the marketing for the fast food chicken restaurant, their mascot is a cow that is seen all around holding up misspelled picket signs saying things like "Eat More Chikin". After reading the story, 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, we make turkeys that hold picket signs that read "Eat More ______." We make the signs using an index card and a popsicle stick and color a turkey reproducible. We attach the sign to the turkey after coloring and cutting. These turkeys come out SO cute! Below are some teacher made examples. They are photos of the same turkey with different signs in hand.
ThanksgivingThanksgiving Unit

Songs and Poems

Ten Little Indians

One little, two little, three little Indians,
Four little, five little, six little Indians,
Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians,
Ten little indians boys and girls!


Thanksgiving's a Wonderful Thing!
(tune: My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)

My Uncle is eating a drumstick,
My Auntie is having a wing.
My cousin is nibbling the stuffing;
Thanksgiving's a wonderful thing!

My daddy loves candied potatoes,
my mother loves the cranberry ring.
My brother is covered in gravy;
Thanksgiving's a wonderful thing!

My grandfather's favorite pickles,
That my grandmother preserved in spring.
My sister has two plates of turnips;
Thanksgiving's a wonderful thing!

And if you should happen to ask me,
What gives me a nip and a zing.
For me it's a pie made of pumpkin;
Thanksgiving's a wonderful thing!


The Albuquerque Turkey
(tune: Oh My Darling Clementine)

Albuquerque has a turkey
and he's feathered and he's fine,
And he gobbles and he gobbles,
and he's absolutely mine.

He's the best pet that you can get,
Better than a dog or cat.
He's my Albuquerque turkey
And I'm awfully proud of that.

And my Albuquerque turkey,
is happy in his bed,
'Cause for one Thanksgiving dinner,
We're having Egg Foo Yung instead.


Thank You

Thank you for the _____ I see.
Thank you for the _____ for me.
Thank you for the _____ I know.
Thanks for _____. I love (him/her) so!
Thank you, thank you; this I say;
Thanks for all I have today!

I'm a Little Indian
(tune: I'm a Little Teapot)

I'm a little Indian on the go,
Here is my arrow, here is my bow.
When I go a-hunting, hear me shout,
Bears and buffalo, better watch out!


A Turkey Tom and Turkey Mom
(tune: Polly Wolly Doodle)

Oh, a turkey Tom and a turkey mom go
Gobble, gobble, gobble all day long.
When the moon goes down
and the sun comes 'round the go,
Gobble, gobble, gobble all day long.

Oh they love to be with their family and go
Gobble, gobble, gobble all day long.
And they say hello
To the folks they know with a
Gobble, gobble, gobble all day long.

Oh they say "how's tricks?"
to the ducks and tricks with a
Gobble, gobble, gobble all day long.
Oh they greet the frog and mill pond log with a
Gobble, gobble, gobble all day long.


Mr. Turkey

Here is Mr. Turkey
With his tail feathers high.
Gobble, Mr. Turkey,
Now fly, fly, fly!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day,
So, Mr. Turkey - Fly Away!


Thanksgiving Riddle
(tune: I'm a Little Teapot)
from Mailbox Magazine

I am not a drumstick.
No, not yet!
I need to eat more
So fat I'll get.
Corn is what I like and
Lots of grain.
Sometimes I gobble.
Can you guess my name?

If you guessed my name
On your first try,
You know I have a problem.
I don't have to tell you why!
If you would be so kind,
I have one wish:
Help me out
And eat some fish!

Math and Science Activities

  • Favorite Foods Graph: Make a favorite Thanksgiving foods graph.
  • Thanksgiving Shopping List: Collect grocery store ads and laminate for continued use. Plan a Thanksgiving feast with the class making sure to plan a balanced meal. Add up the cost of the groceries for your dinner.

Special Activities

Hand and Foot Turkey: This is a turkey that I let my kids make all by themselves. I provide all of the paper and simple instructions of what to do. For each child, you will need one half sheet of brown construction paper and a quarter sheet each of 5 different colors (such as red, yellow, green, purple, and blue). Instruct the children to take off a shoe to trace on the brown paper. After the shoe, they trace one hand on each of the other colors to make 5 hands total. After tracing, the children should cut the shoe pattern and 5 hand patterns and glue together. After complete, help the children attach a beak and eyes (glue craft eyes or draw eyes). Below is an example of a turkey in progress. It is missing 3 hands/feathers and eyes.

Hand Turkeys

Turkey Pin/Magnet: For this project, you can use a real or artifical leaf (artificial leaves will last longer). You will also need a wooden "ice cream" spoon and a pair of craft eyes for each child. Paint the spoon brown and add details like a beak and feet. Attach a pin or magnet to the back.

Thanksgiving Unit

Handy Turkey Project: Use the reproducible as a display for your turkey handprints. Paint a child's palm and thumb with brown paint and each finger an assortment of colors. When the paint is dry, ask the children to draw legs and a beak and as an option, attach a feather for a wing. Download the handy turkey poem below:

Hand Turkey

Turkey Puppet: Click below to downlod printable patterns for a turkey pilgrim puppet.

Native American Patterned Bags: Each child will need 2 pieces of felt and a 2 foot length of cord. Instruct your students to glue together the felt along 3 edges. Use felt pattern block shapes to make Native American designs and patterns on the felt. After the glue dries, attach the cord by hole punching the pouch and tying the cord.

Woven Placemats: Fold a large sheet of construction paper in half the long way. Cut slits into the folded side, each about 1 inch apart. Cut several one inch strips of paper (assorted colors) and show students how to weave the paper through the slits of the frame. Glue down loose ends.

Thanksgiving Unit

Friendship Pins: Provide each child a safety pin of any size. Allow the children to slide beads of different colors down the open arm of the pin. Children can wear their friendship pins or exchange them with each other.

Native American Headbands: Provide each child with a long 2 inch wide strip of paper. Allow the children to use any medium you would like to decorate headbands. You can ask the children to glue on beans, macaroni, or beads. You can also ask them to draw a pattern using markers or crayons. When design is complete, glue craft feathers to the middle of the band. When dry, meausure around the head and staple.

Native American Vests: I have seen vests made two different ways. You can use a brown paper bag or a pillow case for each child to make these vests. Whether you are using a bag or a pillow case you will need to cut a whole in the seam for the head, a slit down the middle for an opening and one hole on each side for the arms. If desired, cut a fringe at the bottom. Allow your children to decorate as they wish.

Pilgrim Hats: Make Pilgrim hats for your boys and girls. Patterns coming soon...


Thankfulness Placemats: Have children look through magazines and cut out pictures of things they are thankful for. Glue onto a piece of construction paper that says "I am thankful for...". Laminate to use for Thanksgiving dinner.

November Bulletin Board: Here is a picture of my November bulletin board. On the board you can see our watercolored fall leaves and our family homework turkeys.

Bulletin Board


Squanto Snack: This recipe is from Mailbox Magazine and is my favorite recipe. After reading about how Squanto showed the Pilgrims how to plant corn by using fish, make this recipe. Each child will need a plastic cup (clear if possible), a ziploc bag holding 4 Oreo cookies, 3 candy corns and 2 gummy fish. First , the children will crush the cookies in the bag by using their hands, a can, or a rolling pin. After crushing, pour the cookie crumbs into the cup to represent dirt. Plant 3 candy corns and 2 gummy fish into the "dirt" and then - Enjoy! This is such a neat teaching recipe!

Turkey Cookies: For each child you will need 1 vanilla wafer, 1 teaspoon of chocolate frosting, 1 Rolo candy, 5 candy corns, 1 chocolate chip, and 1 red hot candy. Spread a layer of frosting on the vanilla wafer. Press the Rolo into the icing at the bottom of the wafer. Arrange the candy corn in a featherlike patter around the water's edge. Add a chocolate chip head and a red hot wattle to the Rolo by using frositing.

Thanksgiving Punch: Mix 2 qts cranberry juice, 1 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, and 1 qt. of ginger ale or lemon lime soda together in a punch bowl and serve.

Family Homework Project

Terrific Turkey Family Homework Project: I got this idea from KinderKorner and modified it. For this project students decorate a blackline master of a turkey. This project is an extension of a story we read called 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving. This is a great story about a group of school children who go on a field trip to a turkey farm and make friends with the turkeys. The children in the story take the turkeys home for Thanksgiving as guests. For this project, the children and their families will disguise a turkey for Thanksgiving using any creative medium. When the children return the project, they share it will the class. Click below to download the project.

family homework project angel turkey
This is an angel turkey decorated with gold foil, doilies, and ribbon.
Church is very important to this family.
family homework project hula turkey
This is a hula turkey, complete with hula skirt, sunglasses, hat, and hawaiian shirt!
This family loves the beach.
family homework project jeweled turkey
This is a Jeweled Turkey, encrusted with multicolored beads
and reinforced by cardboard because of its weight.
This family owns a jewelery store.

Related Units

Resource Links

Related Literature

Coming soon...