Thanksgiving Activities

It’s almost Thanksgiving.  Holidays are just packed with new listening and spoken language opportunities but sometimes, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, we lose these precious teaching moments.  Here are some tips for making the most of everyday learning opportunities during the Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Get your cameras ready!  This is a great opportunity to make an EXPERIENCE BOOK!  The book could be about your Thanksgiving celebration in general, a sequence story about cooking different foods, or a book about family members or other things for which you are thankful.


  • Preparing the Thanksgiving feast brings lots of opportunities to introduce new and unusual verbs — verbs you don’t often use in everyday conversation, like: mash, boil, stuff, baste, mince, chop, dice, broil, etc.  Take it beyond the simple “cook” and “bake” and watch your child’s vocabulary expand!


  • Cooking also brings plenty of listening opportunities — waiting for the timer to ding or the buzzer to buzz, listening to the spoon clank as it mixes around the bowl, the hum of an electric mixer, etc.


  • You can also do some good work on narratives, sequencing, and storytelling as you discuss the history of Thanksgiving and the meaning behind the holiday.  For help explaining the story of Thanksgiving to the littlest of listeners, I love Tomie DePaola’sMy First Thanksgiving.  His beautiful illustrations and simple text make a the history of this holiday easy to understand at a very basic level.  Plus, it comes in a chunky board book format, so it’s ready for lots of wear and tear!  For older children, I like If You Lived at the Time of Squantoby Anne Kamma and If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern.  Both have wonderful illustrations and lots of “Q and A” format text that challenges children to develop their critical thinking skills by imagining life in a different era.  These books are good for developing language skills “beyond the here and now” – a step toward advanced linguistic competance.


  • Discuss gratitude.  There are many different ways to express this concept — thankful, grateful, appreciative, etc.  For what are you thankful this Thanksgiving?


  • Thanksgiving often means parties with family and friends.  Familiarize your child with the people he/she will be seeing at these events.  Practice their names and introduce “family tree” terminology to explain how everyone is related.


  • Big meals and holiday parties are also a great chance to practice social skills and manners!  Go over behavioral expectations and social niceties before the parties begin so that your child is well prepared.  Holidays can be stressful times, but remember — when rules and expectations are clear and rehearsed BEFORE they are put to the test, children perform much better in real life situations.  Prepare NOW, avoid a meltdown later!


  • Thanksgiving break, as with any break from school, brings lots of, “What did you do over vacation?” questions upon children’s return to class.  Prepare your child to answer this question by doing a quick “recap” of the week’s events before next Monday.  Help your child develop their narrative abilities and social skills by preparing them to engage in this common conversation when school begins again.

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