Easy Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving


Easy Ways to Celebrate at Home and at School

Part 1

As a teacher, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. We can celebrate the holiday as an entire class. Over the years, I have seen numerous ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. And of course, Pinterest has now given me endless ideas on how I can celebrate Thanksgiving both in the classroom and at home as Carl grows. 

Today, I wanted to share with you four Thanksgiving activities that can be done at home and in the classroom. For each activity, I will provide you with the materials to complete the activity. In addition, I will explain how you can use the activity at home or in the classroom (the way it's implemented may be different). All of the activities are based around giving Thanks for what we have. Look for part 2 tomorrow with more activities! 


Download all of the PDF files at the bottom of this post! 



The Thankful Tree


The example above is from Simply Vintage Girl. This is one of my favorite ways to share why we are thankful. I love Simply Vintage Girl's idea of using twigs or branches from outside in a vase to create a tree. This would be simple to do both in home and at school. Simply place them in a plain vase. If you're a teacher and do not want to use real branches, simply use brown art paper or butcher paper to create a tree on the wall (this could even be done by a parent volunteer). Here is an example below from Bargain Bound

At Home During November:
  1. Make your vase of sticks. Get the kids in on the fun, have them help collect them! 
  2. Print the small leaves for the Thankful Tree. 
  3. Use a hole punch to make a hole in the top of each leaf.
  4. String a piece of ribbon or string through the hole and tie it so that it can be hung on the tree later. 
  5. Each night right before dinner, have each person write one thing they are Thankful for on a leaf. For younger kids, have a family member help them write. Or let them draw!
  6. At dinner, each member should share what they are thankful for and then tie their leaf to the tree. 
  7. On Thanksgiving or at the end of the month, take the time to reread what everyone is thankful for.
OR

At Home on Thanksgiving:

  1. Make your vase of sticks. Get the kids in on the fun, have them help collect them! 
  2. Print the small leaves for the Thankful Tree. 
  3. Use a hole punch to make a hole in the top of each leaf.
  4. String a piece of ribbon or string through the hole and tie it so that it can be hung on the tree later. 
  5. Before Thanksgiving dinner, give everyone a set number of leaves (you can decide how many). 
  6. At dinner, each member should share what they are thankful for and then tie their leaf to the tree. 
Tip:
  • Save your leaves in a plastic bag labeled with the year. It would be fun as your kids grow to look back on what they were thankful for. If you want to do this, have everyone write their initials/name on their leaves or give each person the same color leaf each year. 
At School:
  1. Make your vase of sticks. Get the kids in on the fun, have them help collect them! Or make your tree on the wall. 
  2. Print the small leaves for the vase Thankful Tree or the big leaves for the wall tree (skip the next 2 steps if you are doing a wall tree, just use tape instead). 
  3. Use a hole punch to make a hole in the top of each leaf.
  4. String a piece of ribbon or string through the hole and tie it so that it can be hung on the tree later. 
  5. Give each student a set number of leaves. Give them time to write or draw (younger students) the things they are thankful for. 
  6. Allow students an opportunity to share their leaves. Either share them all on one day or select a few leaves to share with the class each day throughout the month of November. 
Tip
  • You can have students write their names on the leaves or you can have the whole class stay anonymous. If you have older students, you may want to let students stay anonymous (they are more likely to share some more personal things they are thankful for). Younger students tend to want people to know what they wrote. 

Individual Tree - At Home and At School
  1. Give each child one individual tree base.  
  2. Give each child a half a sheet of the individual tree leaves sheet (8 leaves).
  3. Have the child write the things they are thankful for on the leaves. 
  4. Cut out the leaves.
  5. Glue the leaves on the tree where desired. Some of the leaves may hang over the paper, and that's okay!
  6. Color and decorate the tree.
  7. If desired, have children complete the writing page to explain why they selected the items they are thankful for (see example below the tree). 
  8. Share! 
Here is an example of what the tree put together would look like (without coloring and every leaf filled in...I don't like to give children too many examples or I find they have trouble thinking of their own ideas). 



Added File for Older Students (great for classroom writing activity)
There is also a file to go with the Thankful Tree. Have children write about what they are thankful about and why. This gives an added bonus of a writing activity. Here is what the paper looks like below (2 pages).






Thankful Turkey

This is an alternative to the individual thankful tree. Instead, children get to make and decorate a Thankful Turkey!

Thankful Turkey - At Home and At School 
  1. Give each child one turkey base.
  2. Give each child one page of feather. (either with or without lines).
  3. Decorate the turkey base.
  4. Cut out the turkey. 
  5. Have the children write or draw what they are thankful for on each feather. Show them that they should not draw or write on the lower part of the feather because it will be covered by the turkey.
  6. Decorate the feathers.
  7. Cut out the feathers.
  8. Glue the feathers on the back of the turkey with the words/pictures facing up. 
  9. Share! 
Tip
  • There are 2 types of feathers available. One is blank so that children can draw what they are thankful for. The other feathers have lines so that children can write what they are thankful about.
Here is an example of what the Turkey might look like put together (with only one example on a lined feather and no coloring). 


Thankful Book

There are so many Thankful Books out there. A lot of them you have to pay for. I thought I would make a simple Thankful Book to make at home or at school. You can make the book as many pages as you want based on how many pages you give each child. Each sheet has 2 pages. The size of the book is a half-sheet. There is an option for younger children (only one word responses that an adult could write in with space to draw) and an option for older children (space to write and draw). 

Here is an example of the cover:




Younger Students Book - At Home and at School
  1. Give each child one cover (each page has 2 covers on it). 
  2. Have the child write their name on the cover (after by). 
  3. Give each child pages for their book (you decide how many). One page will represent each item they are thankful for. 
  4. Children fill in the blank with their best spelling, I am thankful for ______.  OR for very young students, have an adult fill in the blank.
  5. Then children can draw a picture of what they are thankful for. 
  6.  Lastly, have children color their cover. 
  7. Put the book together and staple! 
  8. Share! 
Here is an example of what the page looks like for younger students.




Older Students Book - At Home and at School
  1. Give each child one cover (each page has 2 covers on it). 
  2. Have the child write their name on the cover (after by). 
  3. Give each child pages for their book (you decide how many). One page will represent each item they are thankful for. 
  4. Children write fill in the blank what they are thankful for and why. 
  5. Then children can draw a picture of what they are thankful for. 
  6. Lastly, have children color their cover. 
  7. Put the book together and staple! 
  8. Share! 
Here is an example of the book page for older students. 

Thankful Notes
Great for lunchboxes, notes to students, or notes for your child. 




These little notes are more for a parent or teacher to give to children. One year I saw a teacher pass out a special hand-written note to each student. She had written why she was thankful for each student. I thought it was such a sweet idea. As teachers, we get many notes as to why children are thankful for us or school. But we don't always take the time to tell our students why we are thankful for them. There are 6 notes per page. They are easy for teachers to print and fill in to give to each student before Thanksgiving. They are also the perfect size for a parent to include in a lunchbox. You could include the note one time right before Thanksgiving or make multiple copies and include in your child's lunchbox throughout the month of November. It will be a special moment for the child at lunch each day. If you have a younger child, you can write them the notes still and instead read them their note at dinner. In the classroom, teachers could also pass out these notes for children to fill out about each other. Or at home, you could have children fill these notes out for their siblings and place them in their lunchbox or share at dinner. Or you could print them for children to fill out and give to their friends or other family members.  Everyone deserves to hear why you are thankful for them! 

Ways to Use the Notes
  1. Lunchbox notes.
  2. Dinner notes. 
  3. Notes from the teacher. 
  4. Notes from one student to another in the classroom. 
  5. Notes from siblings to each other. 
  6. Notes from kids to their friends or family members. 
Here is an example of the note:








To Download
Click the links below to download the files. After the file opens, go to File, Download (or CTRL + S).

Files to Download

Thankful Tree
Thankful Turkey
Thankful Book
Thankful Notes
















 Easy Ways to Celebrate at Home and at School
Part 2

Thanksgiving Pie
At Home or At School
  1. Give each child one pie top and one pie bottom.
  2. On the bottom pie, have children write a reason they are thankful on each “slice.”
  3. Decorate the top of the pie.
  4. Cut out the pie and pie bottom. .
  5. Cut out the “pie piece” along the dotted lines.
  6. Use a brad to attach the top of the pie to the bottom.
  7. Rotate the open “pie piece” and Share!
  8. For an additional writing piece, have students write about what they are thankful for and why on the pumpkin pie writing paper. 



Here is an example of the finished pie with one “pie piece” from the bottom showing (it’s been colored, too).



Thanksgiving Jar
There are 2 different Thanksgiving Jar designs available. Included below are themed note cards to place in the jar and a label to hang from or tape to a jar, bucket, etc.
Snoopy and Woodstock:



and a Turkey:





At Home During November
  1. Each night right before dinner, have each person write one thing they are Thankful for on a jar note. For younger kids, have a family member help them write.
  2. At dinner, each member should share what they are thankful for and place their note in the jar.
  3. On Thanksgiving or at the end of the month, take the time to reread what everyone is thankful for.


At Home on Thanksgiving
  1. Before Thanksgiving dinner, have each person write what they are Thankful for on a jar note. For younger kids, have a family member help them write.
  2. Place the notes inside of the Thankful jar.               
  3. At Thanksgiving dinner, pull out notes from the jar and share what everyone is thankful for.


Tip:
Save your leaves in a plastic bag labeled with the year. It would be fun as your kids grow to look back on what they were thankful for. If you want to do this, have everyone write their initials/name on their leaves or give each person the same color leaf each year.


At School
  1. Give each child notes to place in the jar (decide how many per child).
  2. Each child should write one thing they are thankful for on each jar note. For younger kids, have a family member help them write.
  3. Place the notes inside of the thankful jar.        
  4. Share the notes either in one sitting or share a few a day.
  5. For an additional writing piece, have students write what they are thankful for and why on the thankful jar writing paper.



Thanksgiving Ding Dong Ditch – 
You've been Turkey’d!
Ding Dong Ditch is one of my new favorite holiday traditions. There are so many cute ways to do this at school, in your neighborhood, and with family and friends. I have given you numerous ding dong ditch ideas below.

Here’s the “ You've Been Turkey’d” card.


At Home
  1. Put together a Ding Dong Ditch gift. See the ideas below.
  2. Attach the provided label to the gift.
  3. Either leave it anonymous or sign the card.
  4. Drop of your gift and ring your desired receiver’s doorbell.
  5. RUN!!


You can do this with neighbors, friends, kid’s friends, or family members. Sometimes people can really get this going in their neighborhood and will leave their note on their door to share that they have already been targeted.

At School
  1. Put together a Ding Dong Ditch gift. See the ideas below.
  2. Attach the provided label to the gift.
  3. Either leave it anonymous or sign the card.
  4. When your receiver is not around or not looking, have your students drop the gift off.
  5. RUN!! (Or walk quickly since you’re in a school building J)
  6. For an additional writing piece, have students write about who they would “Turkey,” what they would give them as a gift, and why they deserved to be “turkey’d.”



You can do this with: other teachers, front office staff, custodians, cafeteria staff, nurse, whole classes, and administration. If you’re looking for a free gift, it would be a great idea to use the “I’m Thankful for you because” note cards and have the entire class tell why they are thankful for the receiver. I especially like this idea for the custodians, front office staff, and cafeteria staff because they can never hear thank you enough!

Thanksgiving Ding Dong Ditch Gift Ideas 
Click on the underlined ideas to see the example and directions

Free Gifts


Thanksgiving Craft Ideas


Thanksgiving Food Gift Ideas





To Download
Click the links below to download the files. After the file opens, go to File, Download (or CTRL + S).

Files to Download
Thankful Pie

Thankful Jar

You've Been Turkey’d (Ding Dong Ditch)


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