Thanksgiving Lesson Plan
by Judie Haynes
Gobble, gobble! Get ready to break out the cranberry sauce and put the stuffing in the oven with our Thanksgiving related lesson plans and activities for ESL students Grades 1-4.
In November I like teach a unit on Thanksgiving to all of my students. These units are written to follow the TESOL Pre-K-12 ESL Standards: Standard 2, Goal 2.
Lesson topicThanksgiving; The Mayflower
Proficiency/Grade levelBeginner, advanced beginners, grades 1-4
Content Concepts and Skillsvocabulary development for the holiday of Thanksgiving; social studies concept of the settling of the New World.
Vocabulary neededPilgrim, Mayflower, passenger, freedom pray, king, Native Americans, tools, plant, hunt, build, crowded, hungry, dirty, equal, rules, warriors, harvest,turkey, lobster, corn, squash, pumpkins. Vocabulary will vary according to grade and English language level.
Instructional sequence for Grades 1-4 beginners & advanced beginner ESL students
- Look for a book with simple pictures in it about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. Try one of the following for ESL students in grades 1-4:
- Give students a sense of how crowded the Mayflower was by making a rectangle on the floor of your classroom with masking tape. Make your rectangle small enough so that when your students all stand inside of it, they feel crowded.
- Have students download the pattern for the Mayflower and for the sail pattern. Have students draw lines for boards and color the ship. Fold on the lines so that the ship stands. Cut out two copies of the sails and put the masts between the sails. Glue to the ship. Make the ship stand up on a sheet of light blue paper. Students can make an ocean by drawing waves on the paper with a dark blue marker.
- Brainstorm 4 or 5 important facts about the Mayflower as a group and write these facts on sentence strips. There should be a strip for each student in the group. Students should be able to sequence these strips.
- Have students write one of the facts on a sheet of paper & learn to say that fact.
- Present the story of the Mayflower to the ESL students' classes.
- If students are older but don't speak much English, use the Thanksgiving booklet.
- Have students in Grades 2-4 recreate a Pilgrim house by downloading PDF files House pattern, thatched roof pattern, and door and chimney pattern. Students should learn about the materials used to build houses in 1620 and discuss how they were built.
- Have students go to Design a Period House Interior. To reach this page, click on the title on the right side of the page.
- Students can compare and contrast life as a Pilgrim child and their life in the U.S. in 2001 using a Venn diagram. They can also compare Thanksgiving in 1621 and Thanksgiving in 2001.
- Have classes write an E.S.L. compact of rules for getting along with each other in school. Have students make a turkey with one of the rules written on each of the feathers.
- Have students in Grades 4-6 compare the facts that we know about Thanksgiving and the myths. A good source for doing this is found at Read, Write, Think which is a site sponsored by NTCE.
1. The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward
2. The Pilgrims'First Thanksgiving by Ann Mc Govern.
3. If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann Mc GovernTo make difficulty level of your book irrelevant, tell the story using the pictures in the book. Review the story several times by asking students to point to the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, etc. First and second graders like to hear about the children on the Mayflower. When you read the story of the First Thanksgiving, emphasize the reasons the Pilgrims left England, the hardships of the voyage, and the terrible first winter.
Show students how to make the out side of the house with brown construction paper, a door which opens and no windows. Make the thatch roof by cutting a piece of dark gold construction paper and drawing the thatch with a marker. Add a stone chimney.
Download Pilgrim house interior. Have students complete the directions for the inside of the house: chimney for cooking, warmth, and light; the iron kettle brought from England; and a few pieces of wooden furniture.
Cut a piece of lined paper the shape of the house. Have students write about the Pilgrims' house.
Arrange your houses on a large sheet of paper on a wall or bulletin board and draw in the colonial village.
Links for Other Thanksgiving Activities
Here are some links for other Thanksgiving activities for young ESL students.
1. Turkey songs
5. Life of the Pilgrims in Plimouth. Check on the Teacher's section and find lessons plans plus downloads for student activities.
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