Next Thursday, in the United States anyway, is Thanksgiving Day. It’s a day where the President “pardons” a turkey, people get together with family and celebrate what they’re thankful for (and watch football). This Thanksgiving will be an interesting one in light of the recent Presidential election. I imagine some [families] will get into arguments and ruin the event for everyone. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.
For teachers, however, it creates many opportunities for crafts and sharing what students are thankful for. ESL/ELL teachers can use the holiday to bring-in cross-cultural ideas and get students to think about life outside of their home country.
Here are four Thanksgiving activities for ESL students!
- What is Thanksgiving? – For beginning ESL students, you can introduce the idea of being thankful. You can use the target language of “I am thankful for….”, and have each student say one or two things they’re thankful for. For intermediate to advanced students, have them write about it in the form of an essay. They can share an experience they’ve had with family and discuss how they felt.
- Make a hand-print turkey! – This is always a favorite for many young students! They get to make a craft to show their parents afterward. You need to gather enough materials for your students (construction paper, scissors, glue, etc.) ahead of time. Below their turkey, they can write some simple sentences such as, “It is Thanksgiving,” or, “I am thankful for____,”. For young learners they should trace the sentences, but for more advanced students, they can write free-hand. If you want to get a little messy, instead of construction paper, your students can use washable paint! They can still glue the eyes and feathers on once it has dried.
- Thanksgiving reading comprehension – For older and more advanced students, you can introduce some of the history behind the holiday. Have the students read a short passage about Thanksgiving and its roots, then give a short gap-fill worksheet to check for understanding. You can also teach vocabulary like “pilgrim”, “Native American”, “cooperation”, “freedom”, and others that may seem appropriate. If you cannot find a resource appropriate for your students’ level, then it is best to make your own.
- How to cook a Thanksgiving meal – for more advanced students, have them write a how-to essay for preparing and cooking a Thanksgiving meal. You can discuss different foods that people eat, and what their favorite foods. Then, give them the task of planning a meal for a given number of people. You may want to put the class into small groups for this activity. After they’ve planned their meal, have each group make a poster with pictures of foods, and instructions for cooking a few dishes. They can present their poster in front of the class. If it’s possible, see if you can make a dish or two in-class. I’m sure there are some no-bake pies or casseroles you can find!
These are just a few activities, and I’m sure you have ideas of your own that may be better!
Here are a few sites with activities and ideas: