Thanksgiving Lessons and Thanksgiving Activities for Upper Elementary and Middle School Classrooms

November 10, 2021


If you're looking for Thanksgiving lessons that require students to think, create, and share, then you're in the right place. I'm rounding up my favorite ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in the classroom. These Thanksgiving activities are designed to honor the holiday while teaching students critical listening, speaking, reading, and/or writing skills. In other words, no fluff! 

Your students will love these engaging Thanksgiving lessons, and you'll love that they're already planned for you.

Here's a quick overview of my favorites:

--- Thanksgiving Doodle Poster and Gratitude Leaf Project

--- FREE Listening Comprehension Activity

--- 5 Reading Comprehension Learning Stations

--- Thank You Note Writing and Pockets

--- Parts of Speech Pop Art Turkey Lesson

--- Autumn Poetry Analysis Flipbooks

--- Reading Comprehension Passage


Celebrate Thanksgiving in a meaningful and engaging way! This resource includes two activities. One activity is a Fact Hunt and Thanksgiving Doodle Infographic Poster. The other activity is an expandable gratitude leaf project. 

With these activities, students will learn about the history of Thanksgiving, interesting facts about the day, and make connections to the holiday. They’ll create a doodle infographic filled with facts and a gratitude project. Check it out here.


In this FREE lesson, students will practice the critical skill of listening comprehension while learning about the origin of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. After a mini-lesson on what to listen for and how to take notes, students will listen to a passage about Sarah Josepha Hale two times. They’ll take notes during both readings. Then, they’ll answer questions based on their passage. Finally, they’ll create a festive piece of turkey pop art with designs and shapes based on the answers to the comprehension questions. 

This activity is a perfect way to celebrate the holiday, keep students learning, and integrate art created by Art with Jenny K. into your instruction. Download it for FREE here.


These Thanksgiving-themed reading comprehension centers or stations are not only designed to give students meaningful opportunities to practice reading, they’re also incredibly fun and engaging!

This Thanksgiving Centers resource contains activities and lessons for 5 learning centers. Each center is designed to give students engaging and exciting learning experiences to practice, enrich, reteach, and enhance their learning. Working independently and with their small groups, student will have the opportunity to develop multiple reading comprehension skills.

Great News! The reading centers are also available as a Google Slides resource for students. Find learning stations for grades 4-5 here and grades 6-8 here.


Celebrate the spirit of gratitude and thanks with this Thank You Note Writing mini-unit. This resource is all about gratitude! You’ll find resources to help your students craft a thoughtful and meaningful thank you note and create a fun Thank You Note Pocket. First, students will learn about the critical elements of thank you notes. Then, they’ll complete a brainstorm, pre-write, and rough draft before they write a final copy of their thank you notes. Finally, they’ll create a Thank You Note Pocket to place their note inside.

This resource includes two sets of writing materials. One set is for students in grades 1-3 and the other set is for students in grades 4 and beyond. Learn more here.


Make grammar especially fun on Thanksgiving with this Parts of Speech Pop Art lesson. Students will learn all about turkeys as they identify different parts of speech. Then, they'll turn their answers into art with the pop art turkey coloring page. 

Your students will love this fun and creative lesson that Art with Jenny K. and I collaborated to make. Oh, and the resource includes 11 MORE Pop Art parts of speech activities to use all year long. Click here to learn more.


Celebrate the autumn season with five autumn poem studies in this hands-on and engaging 5-day poetry analysis unit. Each fall poem study includes a 5-page interactive flip book that helps students deeply understand the poem. As students progress through the analysis tasks on each page of their flip books they not only dive deeper into the text, but they also develop an appreciation for closely reading poetry. 

Your students will love the interactive flip books and you’ll love how engaged students are while analyzing poetry. Digital versions included. See them all here.


Here's another fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving in the classroom. Have students read about the Great Turkey Pardon as they practice summarizing skills. Then, watch their learning come alive as they turn their answers into bold art work. Students will literally put the ART into English Language Arts (just the way Art with Jenny K. and I like it.) 

Check out this differentiated set of reading passages perfect for Thanksgiving (and any time of the year) right here.


Well, there you have favorite lessons to celebrate Thanksgiving in the classroom. I hope you found some that your students will love. Don't forget to grab this FREE Thanksgiving Listening passage.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday!
Mary Beth

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