Most kids learn the traditional Thanksgiving lessons in school and often associate Thanksgiving with Pilgrims, Indians, and of course, food. However, to understand what Thanksgiving is about, it is important to understand what happened at the first Thanksgiving and learn details about the finer points of the holiday. Click on the lesson image to open the PDF file, download, and print. If you need specific directions for your browser, there is a guide for working with Adobe printables.
The First Thanksgiving Dinner
The First Thanksgiving Dinner is a complete lesson plan for grades one to three. The lesson explains what happened at the first Thanksgiving celebration. Students will learn what events led up to the first dinner and use printable plates and food to figure out how a modern Thanksgiving dinner differs from the first dinner. A resource list is included to help you prepare for your discussion of the first Thanksgiving. You'll find links to websites, books to read to the class and video suggestions.
First Thanksgiving Myth or Truth Race
The First Thanksgiving Myth or Truth Race gets your students up and moving and engages them in learning more about what the first Thanksgiving was like. This lesson plan is best suited for grades six and up. The details are a bit more in-depth than lessons for younger grades, even touching on how the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and the lesson plan also includes blank cards so that you can create questions tailored to your unit of study. Other topics in this lesson include:
- Suffering on the voyage to the New World
- How the settlers struggled after arriving
- What was eaten at the first feast
- Lifestyle of the Wampanoag and how they helped the settlers survive
Zany Turkey Trivia
Grades two and up will have a lot of fun with this turkey trivia lesson plan. This is a great filler lesson when you have a bit of extra time in class, or to leave out for a substitute teacher. Homeschoolers will appreciate the science of learning more about wild turkeys. Students will learn facts they probably didn't know about turkeys, both domestic and wild, and complete a handout. These types of fun facts will stick with kids and make them more knowledgeable about this species of bird.
Thanksgiving Object Lesson: Then and Now
Kids in grades two and up will explore how tools and objects related to preparing a Thanksgiving dinner change over time. They'll explore tools used to hunt, gather, fish, and cook at the first Thanksgiving meal and tools used by people today. This activity engages the imagination and involves both writing and drawing skills.
Thankfulness Bible Lesson for Thanksgiving
Focus on thankfulness at home or in Sunday school Thanksgiving lessons with a Bible lesson including Christian Thanksgiving activities for children. Kids in grades three or higher will participate in a Bible scavenger hunt where they have to find the location of a Bible verse about thankfulness. Kids will then explore what they think each of these verses means and how they can apply this knowledge to their own lives. These ideas can be added to Thanksgiving prayers at the dinner table.
Fun Thanksgiving Lesson Activities for Kids
Whether you are a classroom teacher, Sunday school instructor, or a parent, you'll find lots of wonderful ideas to use with your kids. Thanksgiving activities for kids can include everything from cooking and crafts to games. While many of these lessons and activities are geared toward the Thanksgiving Day holiday, they can also be modified to use any time of the year.
- Add a few Thanksgiving games for kids like a word scramble, pin the feathers on the turkey, or Thanksgiving word searches to any lesson.
- Make computer lessons seasonal by choosing online Thanksgiving games for kids that are both fun and education.
- Create cohesive and creative Thanksgiving language arts lessons that include reading or writing Thanksgiving poems for kids and Thanksgiving stories for children.
- Help kids learn what it felt like to be at the first Thanksgiving by dressing them in Thanksgiving costumes for kids.
- Thanksgiving arts and crafts incorporate natural elements to create iconic holiday items such as edible Thanksgiving crafts and paper turkeys.
- Add free, printable Thanksgiving math activities that incorporate Thanksgiving images and scenarios into math problems.
- Use free Thanksgiving coloring pages to illustrate the concepts you talk about and engage visual learners.
- Challenge older kids with Thanksgiving trivia questions as a quiz or fun group activity.
Learn the True Meaning of Thanksgiving
Kids often fail to stop and count their blessings, but with some great activities centered around this special holiday, they can understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving Day. From learning about settlers' survival to turkeys to what was served at the first Thanksgiving meal, there's plenty to explore.