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October 18, 2018

5 Popular Stories and Activities for Thanksgiving

By Shari Carter
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    If you have young children you are planning to read to during the days that lead up to Thanksgiving, these books are perfect for you! I have included some of my very favorite stories, and each is paired with activities to enhance your little learners’ reading experience, and make your teaching a little easier!

    1. 10 Fat Turkeys

    10 Fat Turkeys is full of silly words and turkeys doing silly things while it teaches kids to count. It is entertaining, has vivid illustrations, and my kids LOVE when I read this story to them!

    Activity: Pattern Block Turkeys

    These pattern block turkeys are a perfect follow-up to 10 Fat Turkeys by giving students a chance to put their counting skills into practice. I hand out recording sheets to each student and have them color code the shapes with crayon. Doing this makes it easier for my students to count how many of each shape they used on their turkeys. This activity also helps deepen a child's understanding of shapes, and how they can be used to build pictures. Teacher Tip: Ask a parent volunteer to cut out the shapes with a die-cutter beforehand.

    Just before we built our turkeys, I gave my students a quick mini-lesson on symmetry. As soon as the students had a basic understanding of this concept, they were off to add feathers to their turkeys!  

    My kids worked hard on symmetry and this project gave them an opportunity to show an extended understanding of a key math concept. It’s important that kids are provided with open-ended opportunities like this, so that we can monitor just how much these young students know!

    2. Bear Says Thanks

    This is a fine book for teaching gratitude, and understanding how we each can bring something "to the table" even if it's not something material. The illustrations are beautiful and my kids love that there are so many rhyming words. Bear is the epitome of what a good friend is, and I love sharing this story with my kids during the Thanksgiving holiday season.

    Activity: Thankful Writing

    The simple message from Bear Says Thanks is a perfect segue into a writing lesson on what we are grateful for. It helps my class to share out loud the things in their lives that make them happy and for which they give thanks. This exercise also gives me a glimpse into the inner workings of my kids' emotional lives when I read about things and people who are very important in their lives. Scholastic Teachables has some lovely options to get your writers started including this I Am Thankful mini-book and Spanish Write & Read Book.

    3. The Great Turkey Race

    The Great Turkey Race  is a very funny Thanksgiving story that features three little turkeys that kids seem to find irresistable. The illustrations are rich and colorful, the competition is exciting, and there is a very interesting twist when they turkeys decide how to treat a cheating friend.

    Activity: Thanksgiving Turkey Baster Relay

    Fine motor skill activities are necessary in kindergarten. They help to build strength in little hands. During the month of November, I can’t think of a better (and more fun) way to do that than with this relay race. After reading about Cassie, Wing, and Ollie’s field day in The Great Turkey Race, we held turkey baster relays! It was a great way to have some fun and improve fine motor skills as my students used turkey basters to get their feathers to the end of the finish line!

    4. 10 Turkeys in the Road

    Stories with a math theme are some of my favorites. I get so excited when I can incorporate literacy into my math lessons. 10 Turkeys in the Road is a super fun counting book about one turkey who won’t. get. out. of. the. road!

    Activity: Roll-a-Turkey

    Dice games are a favorite in my class. Anytime we bring those little cubes out, the excitement level in the room ratchets up several notches. Roll-A-Turkey is a fun game your students can play in a math center or with a friend. This dice game will help students with number sense and I promise you, your kids will love it!

    5. A Plump and Perky Turkey

    A Plump and Perky Turkey is a holiday favorite with every kindergarten class I've ever read it to — and I've read it to them all! The plot is simple: the people of Squawk Valley want a turkey to eat for Thanksgiving, but the clever and tricky turkey foils the plan. The story line is great and kids love it that the turkey comes away a winner!

    Activity: Directed Drawing

    Directed drawing is a quick and easy way to teach basic elements of art. When my students have more confidence in their ability to draw, they are less inhibited to add pictures to their writing. We made simple turkeys with round bodies and used watercolors to paint them. Teacher Tip: Use watercolor paper instead of construction paper — it is thicker and holds up a lot better.

    We always begin our directed drawing lesson with pencils, sketching lightly in case students want to erase. After drawing, we take out Sharpie markers (yes, kindergarteners can handle these) and trace over all pencil markings. When they have finished they get out their watercolors to bring their turkeys to life. After completing their artwork, my students write  about their colorful turkeys. 

     

    Happy Thanksgiving from my classroom to yours!

     

    Here are some other Thanksgiving ideas from my Top Teaching blog post: "Thanksgiving Fun in the Classroom."

    If you have young children you are planning to read to during the days that lead up to Thanksgiving, these books are perfect for you! I have included some of my very favorite stories, and each is paired with activities to enhance your little learners’ reading experience, and make your teaching a little easier!

    1. 10 Fat Turkeys

    10 Fat Turkeys is full of silly words and turkeys doing silly things while it teaches kids to count. It is entertaining, has vivid illustrations, and my kids LOVE when I read this story to them!

    Activity: Pattern Block Turkeys

    These pattern block turkeys are a perfect follow-up to 10 Fat Turkeys by giving students a chance to put their counting skills into practice. I hand out recording sheets to each student and have them color code the shapes with crayon. Doing this makes it easier for my students to count how many of each shape they used on their turkeys. This activity also helps deepen a child's understanding of shapes, and how they can be used to build pictures. Teacher Tip: Ask a parent volunteer to cut out the shapes with a die-cutter beforehand.

    Just before we built our turkeys, I gave my students a quick mini-lesson on symmetry. As soon as the students had a basic understanding of this concept, they were off to add feathers to their turkeys!  

    My kids worked hard on symmetry and this project gave them an opportunity to show an extended understanding of a key math concept. It’s important that kids are provided with open-ended opportunities like this, so that we can monitor just how much these young students know!

    2. Bear Says Thanks

    This is a fine book for teaching gratitude, and understanding how we each can bring something "to the table" even if it's not something material. The illustrations are beautiful and my kids love that there are so many rhyming words. Bear is the epitome of what a good friend is, and I love sharing this story with my kids during the Thanksgiving holiday season.

    Activity: Thankful Writing

    The simple message from Bear Says Thanks is a perfect segue into a writing lesson on what we are grateful for. It helps my class to share out loud the things in their lives that make them happy and for which they give thanks. This exercise also gives me a glimpse into the inner workings of my kids' emotional lives when I read about things and people who are very important in their lives. Scholastic Teachables has some lovely options to get your writers started including this I Am Thankful mini-book and Spanish Write & Read Book.

    3. The Great Turkey Race

    The Great Turkey Race  is a very funny Thanksgiving story that features three little turkeys that kids seem to find irresistable. The illustrations are rich and colorful, the competition is exciting, and there is a very interesting twist when they turkeys decide how to treat a cheating friend.

    Activity: Thanksgiving Turkey Baster Relay

    Fine motor skill activities are necessary in kindergarten. They help to build strength in little hands. During the month of November, I can’t think of a better (and more fun) way to do that than with this relay race. After reading about Cassie, Wing, and Ollie’s field day in The Great Turkey Race, we held turkey baster relays! It was a great way to have some fun and improve fine motor skills as my students used turkey basters to get their feathers to the end of the finish line!

    4. 10 Turkeys in the Road

    Stories with a math theme are some of my favorites. I get so excited when I can incorporate literacy into my math lessons. 10 Turkeys in the Road is a super fun counting book about one turkey who won’t. get. out. of. the. road!

    Activity: Roll-a-Turkey

    Dice games are a favorite in my class. Anytime we bring those little cubes out, the excitement level in the room ratchets up several notches. Roll-A-Turkey is a fun game your students can play in a math center or with a friend. This dice game will help students with number sense and I promise you, your kids will love it!

    5. A Plump and Perky Turkey

    A Plump and Perky Turkey is a holiday favorite with every kindergarten class I've ever read it to — and I've read it to them all! The plot is simple: the people of Squawk Valley want a turkey to eat for Thanksgiving, but the clever and tricky turkey foils the plan. The story line is great and kids love it that the turkey comes away a winner!

    Activity: Directed Drawing

    Directed drawing is a quick and easy way to teach basic elements of art. When my students have more confidence in their ability to draw, they are less inhibited to add pictures to their writing. We made simple turkeys with round bodies and used watercolors to paint them. Teacher Tip: Use watercolor paper instead of construction paper — it is thicker and holds up a lot better.

    We always begin our directed drawing lesson with pencils, sketching lightly in case students want to erase. After drawing, we take out Sharpie markers (yes, kindergarteners can handle these) and trace over all pencil markings. When they have finished they get out their watercolors to bring their turkeys to life. After completing their artwork, my students write  about their colorful turkeys. 

     

    Happy Thanksgiving from my classroom to yours!

     

    Here are some other Thanksgiving ideas from my Top Teaching blog post: "Thanksgiving Fun in the Classroom."

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