9 Awesome and Helpful Thanksgiving Writing Activities for 4th through 7th Grade

Engaging Thanksgiving writing activities can help your students continue learning while they anticipate Thanksgiving break.  Students get so excited about taking time off from school that it gets hard for them to focus.  The best thing we can do as teachers embrace our students’ excitement and use it in their assignments

Thanksgiving Writing Activities in My Classrooms

Over the years of teaching, the schools I’ve worked in and I have approached Thanksgiving in a few different ways.  In my first school, they followed anti-bias teaching, which meant that we weren’t supposed to celebrate any holidays. In one school we had a Thanksgiving banquet on the last day of school before break. In some schools, we read and wrote about it.   

Thanksgiving Writing Activities

I like having my students write about thanksgiving because it’s possible to include everyone by simply offering an alternative topic as an option.  I believe culturally responsive teaching is a more inclusive way to teach around the holidays because then you are working towards getting to know everyone’s holidays and beliefs.  It’s important to know about the other cultures surrounding us.  The nice thing about Thanksgiving is many students celebrate it.

Why Celebrate Thanksgiving with Thanksgiving Writing Activities?

The Thanksgiving banquet is a lot of fun and helps the school bond as a community.  The students learn about manners, sharing, and how to talk to others at their assigned table.  It’s a huge event that takes a lot of cooperation and preparation by everyone.  There are a lot of life lessons and life skills the students learn too.  It might be fun, but it’s not always possible.

Gratitude can help improve our mental health year-round.  Studies continue to show that when we can show gratitude our mental health and attitude toward life improve. 

I like to celebrate Thanksgiving with Thanksgiving writing the week or two before.  Writing is a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving because it helps students think about why this day is even a holiday.  When students have to write about the holiday they have to think about it on a deeper level.  

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9 Thanksgiving Writing Activities

Having lots of different ways to approach a holiday is a great idea because our students are all different.  Depending on who we are teaching that year we may need to change the lesson we’re teaching.  Enjoy these nine activity ideas for Thanksgiving.

  1. History of Thanksgiving Timeline as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

In timeline projects, I assign each student a different event from the list.  The students work on researching and writing about that event.  Then we compile all the timeline events together either physically or digitally.  The students share their research and events with the rest of the class.  

I love timeline projects because it lets students practice research, organizing, and writing.  Students can focus on writing their one small event well.  It’s a smaller more focused topic.  There are a lot of skills they can focus on because it’s short.  Students also find these short assignments less intimidating.  This is a fast-to-grade and write assignment that produces an awesome final product.  It’s nice that the class will create the history of Thanksgiving together.

  1. History of Thanksgiving Day as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

Do your students know the history of Thanksgiving?  A lot of times students are given an article to read with questions to answer about how Thanksgiving started or became a legal holiday.  Students skim the article and don’t internalize the information.  I like to have my students research the history of Thanksgiving.  When students research they are still reading about how Thanksgiving began and evolved, but they aren’t limited to a short article.   They can learn more.  They also have to decide what information is important and should be included in their writing.

When I have my students research in this project they research alone, then they bring the information together to fact-check each other’s ideas.  Then the students collaborate for the rest of the project. In the collaborative part of this lesson, your students will work together to develop a slideshow all about the history of Thanksgiving.  

  1. Thanksgiving Acrostic Poetry as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

Acrostic poems are the most common type of poem I see teachers write with their students.  They are easy to plan and fast to complete, which makes them a great choice for the busy teacher.  Acrostic poems are when there is a base word (usually  written down the left side of the paper) and each line starts with a letter from the base word.  It can be as simple as one word on each line.

Once students hit 4th grade I like to challenge what they’ve been taught about acrostic poetry.  I trade in the simple acrostic for a more mature version of an acrostic poem.  I ask my students to write full sentences instead of just one or two words.  I also allow them to have their sentences go over several lines of the poem.  The result is a more mature acrostic.  Sometimes they are simply descriptive, while other times students tell stories.

This mature version of an acrostic poem lets students share a lot more with the reader.  They can describe traditions in detail and share what they are grateful for in a way that’s not possible with beginner acrostics.

  1. Thanksgiving Acrostic Poem (no digital version) as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

This is one of my first ever TpT products.  It is the same as my other thanksgiving acrostic, but there is no digital version.  I kept this available at a discount so my original buyers would have continued access.   If all you need is the print version then this is for you.

  1. Poetry Thanksgiving Day as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

Thanksgiving is full of sounds that aren’t ordinally our focus.  There are friends and family around.  There is so much food and no one has to work.  These variables create lots of sounds.  Onomatopoeia poetry is a great way for students to observe and write about their sense of hearing during the holidays.

In this Poetry Thanksgiving Day lesson, students describe what is making the sound and then share the sound through a repeated onomatopoeia.   It’s a free verse poem template that guides students through the writing process and some onomatopoeia practice.  I love this lesson because students discover what an onomatopoeia is and then get to practice using it in writing simply and easily.

  1. Happy Thanksgiving Poetry as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

The thing that makes Thanksgiving happy is all the things we are thankful for.  Odes are poems that give praise or glory to something. That’s a great way to talk about what you are thankful for.  The poet picks a topic and then writes about why it is wonderful.  The catch is the three different types of odes vary in difficulty.  I think the perfect ode for beginners is irregular odes.  Irregular odes let go of some of the more complex rules.  I have my students focus on the purpose of an ode and a rhyme scheme. 

In this Happy Thanksgiving Poetry, students think about what they are thankful for and write an ode about it.  They can choose to share a few things or have the whole ode focus on one thing.  Sending students home with an ode about what they are grateful for will be a gift to the whole family.

  1. Haiku Thanksgiving as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

Haiku poetry originated in Japan.  These poems focused on small moments in time about nature, such as a leaf falling from a tree. They are three lines long, that’s it.  Haikus are most famous for their syllable count of 5-7-5. Writers must use descriptive language and conciseness in haiku poetry.

In our modern world haiku poetry can be about any topic.  They are great for teaching syllables, descriptive language, small moments, and conciseness.  Having students write a short poem with descriptive language about something they are thankful for is a simple and meaningful way to celebrate Thanksgiving.  You will be able to teach academic skills while embracing the holiday.  

  1. Thanksgiving Worksheets as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

Word games can be so much fun and they are a nice break from the usual work in the classroom.  I always loved when my teachers gave me word games like word searches, crosswords, or mystery puzzles.  These worksheets are a word game that is like a crossword, but a little easier.  There is a base word and off of each letter of the base word is a Thanksgiving word that students have to figure out using a clue.  This bell ringer or earlier finisher activity is so much fun the days before Thanksgiving.

  1. Thanksgiving Activity as Thanksgiving Writing Activities

Do you know how Thanksgiving became a legal holiday?  It’s a tale told so well by Laurie Halse Anderson in her book Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving.  She spent her whole life writing presidents asking them to make Thanksgiving a federal holiday.  The fifth president made her life’s work complete.  

This is an excellent book to read with your students before Thanksgiving.  I asked myself how I could bring this wonderful story and teaching moment into action for my students.  I decided that my students should write someone of authority about a change they thought was important.  I could be a principal, superintendent, mayor, congressman,   president, or CEO.  The lesson walks your students through how to approach letter writing after you read this story together.

Final Tips About Thanksgiving Writing Activities

There are so many activity options out there so all you have to decide is which activity is right for your students.  Thanksgiving writing activities allow students to continue some academic work while celebrating the holiday.   

If you want any of these activity ideas ready to go then head over to my TpT store.  They are all available now.  Most of these activities come with a digital and printable version (if they don’t then they should be updated soon to include it.)   Most of these Thanksgiving writing activities walk students through the writing process to help them gain a better understanding of the steps they need to follow while they write.

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students by using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets making this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

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