Plan Thanksgiving Activities for Students with Newsela
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Plan Thanksgiving Activities for Students With Newsela Resources

Newsela Editorial
Nov 9, 2023

Sandwiched between Halloween and the big winter holidays, Thanksgiving sometimes misses its moment to shine in media, marketing, and in the classroom. Even if you want to do Thanksgiving-themed activities with your students, finding quality, engaging materials for this holiday can be more difficult than others. That’s why we’ve curated content, activities, and text sets for all our subject products to help you inform, celebrate, and reflect in your classroom in the weeks ahead. Use the articles, literature resources, and experiments to get your students excited about Thanksgivings of the present, past, and future:


Discover Thanksgiving literature with Newsela ELA

Explore how to deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of this holiday with the Thanksgiving: Background, Fiction, and Poetry text set:

Thanksgiving background knowledge 

Prepare your students to understand the context of Thanksgiving in both fiction and nonfiction content with resources that build their background knowledge.

  • Discover which common Thanksgiving dinner foods grew in or came to North America before the Pilgrims.

  • Test students’ knowledge about Thanksgiving myths and facts, such as the date of the first feast and the original destination of The Mayflower.

  • Go back in time to see how New Yorkers in the late 1800s celebrated Thanksgiving. Hint: It wasn’t with a parade!

Thanksgiving fiction

Have your students read Erin Guendelsberger’s original Thanksgiving fiction story called “The World’s Biggest Thanksgiving Disaster.” Customize instruction with scaffolds like annotations, writing prompts, and assessments with Formative to help them practice literacy skills.

Thanksgiving poetry

Help students explore the themes of Thanksgiving and the attitude of gratitude with poetry selections like:

  • Thanksgiving Day” by Lydia Maria Child

  • A Song of Thanksgiving” by E. Barrie Kavasch

  • Thankfulness” by Dale Cross Purvis

Learn more about Thanksgiving traditions with Newsela Social Studies

Help students explore the history of Thanksgiving and its traditions with this curated text set:

History of Thanksgiving

Dive into the background of everyone’s favorite food- and gratitude-filled holiday by learning the origins of the first feast and some of our most common traditions.

  • Watch a video to learn more about the surprising origin of the most popular Thanksgiving foods.

  • Read President Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation that declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.

  • Discover where the Wampanoag people—the Native group that helped the Pilgrims survive their first winter—are today and how they feel about Indigenous representation in the historical Thanksgiving story.

Try a tasty food experiment with Newsela Science

Encourage students to explore the world around them with these engaging seasonal STEAM activities:

Thanksgiving STEAM activities

Take a hands-on approach to Thanksgiving instruction with food-themed projects and resources.

  • Encourage students to experiment with unconventional ways to make homemade Thanksgiving staples like butter, graham crackers, and even cake for dessert!

  • Discover how to combat food waste from all your leftovers with a make-your-own compost activity.

Newsela + Formative go together like turkey + stuffing

We hope that these resources for Thanksgiving lessons will help you tap into your students’ excitement for the holiday and keep them engaged as you work through the last few weeks before a well-deserved break.

How do you plan to activate, build, and reinforce prior knowledge about these and other holiday topics? Do you know how you’ll measure and track their comprehension and other reading skills from one lesson to the next? 

Take advantage of the new Newsela + Formative integration to meet these needs! Read our blog post about the integration to learn how you can start making the most of it in all your classrooms today!

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