3 Must-Have Thanksgiving Reading Activities

Is it just me or has this year passed us by? We are already in November and talking about Thanksgiving. THANKSGIVING?! I can’t believe it but I am so ready for it! And not just the holiday, but the fun, Thanksgiving reading activities we get to do in the classroom (or at home with the little ones, too.)

I know not everyone can celebrate Thanksgiving in the classroom but even if you’re just talking about Turkeys, you can still find a way to connect it all. 

When I think about Thanksgiving in the classroom, I imagine a fun Turkey read-aloud, connections being made to our own Thanksgiving experiences, and tons of hands-on activities! But most of all, Thanksgiving activities should put you in the holiday spirit. 

I like to incorporate three essential Thanksgiving reading activities within my reading lesson plans in November that allow for “cozy” classroom discussions and build excitement for what’s to come.

Your students are bound to be thankful for these engaging ELA activities and I suspect you will too. 

(FYI, all of the activities mentioned in this post are from our Rooted in Reading unit for Plump and Perky Turkey. You can find out more about it HERE.)

Thanksgiving Traditions 

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Not everyone does Thanksgiving, or holidays in general, the same. We often find ourselves talking about the differences in Christmas celebrations around the world, but we should consider talking about the many ways each of us celebrate Thanksgiving inside our country as well.

One way I like to introduce Thanksgiving traditions is through our reading passages.

Thanksgiving Reading Comprehension Passages

For example, some families spend Thanksgiving feeding other families who don’t have access to healthy meals, let alone holiday feasts. In our reading unit to accompany the book, Plump and Perky Turkey, we include a reading passage to portray this type of family Tradition. 

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Students will read the passage and then answer comprehension questions about the family’s routine and how it connects to things they do in their own lives.

Nonfiction Reader and Connections

We like to deep dive into Thanksgiving Traditions with a nonfiction reader! In our original nonfiction reader, Thanksgiving Traditions, we dive into the origins of Thanksgiving and the various ways it has been celebrated throughout the years. 

Some prominent traditions to discuss include:

  • The origins of Turkey as the main course 
  • The Macy’s Day Parade
  • Thanksgiving Football
  • Making a Wish with the wishbone
  • The President’s Turkey Pardon 
  • The many ways families give thanks

Students will get a hoot out of learning one lucky turkey will be saved from becoming Thanksgiving dinner!

I like to make a connection to the turkey pardon with the book, A Plump and Perky Turkey, for which we use this reader as a complementary text. The character in the book for our Rooted in Reading unit attempts to disguise himself to elude the feasters! 

When we think about holidays, they are the perfect time to have students practice making connections to the text and generating some questions of their own. 

Using flap-ups, students can show what they’ve learned about various traditions then, they can practice connecting to the story.

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Ask your students whether any of the traditions match things they’ve done at home. Allow them to question the text and images. Guide them in understanding or questioning why certain traditions are done a certain way. Let them recognize their differences and embrace them.

There is a huge opportunity for wholesome classroom discussions when we chat about things that are familiar and comfortable.

Thanksgiving Vocabulary 

Thanksgiving Vocabulary Pictures

An easy way to keep the holiday spirit while still keeping up with your weekly vocabulary standards and routines is to include Thanksgiving vocabulary. 

I like to make this fun by including words that they’ll likely hear around the dinner table on Thanksgiving. Like feast or plump!

Take your vocabulary lesson a step further by helping students understand the difference between a meal and a feast.

For example, in our Plump and Perky Turkey unit, we use picture vocabulary cards to show students what a feast could look like. We then have them talk about a time they’ve seen or had a feast. 

Once they understand what a feast looks like, we can compare it to our normal everyday meals!

And we can play around with the word ‘plump’ for describing turkeys. As an added bonus, you can use it in your adjective lessons, too.

BME & Fact Turkey Craft

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Your Thanksgiving reading activities just wouldn’t be complete without a Turkey craft or drawing! Now, I am all for doing a fun Turkey in disguise but you can turn this into a complete lesson with a little bit of creativity.

I like to have students retell a story using their turkey crafts. In our Thanksgiving reading unit, students will craft a turkey and on the feathers, they will retell the story of the week using the beginning, middle, and end. 

You could also have students write facts about the Thanksgiving traditions they learned throughout the week!

When it comes to Thanksgiving reading activities, it’s important to highlight the different ways we celebrate, include familiar vocabulary they may encounter over the holidays, and incorporate symbols of Thanksgiving, like turkeys, into your lesson plans!

You can find all of the activities mentioned in this post and much more in my TPT shop right HERE.

Not celebrating Thanksgiving but still looking for seasonal activities? Check out THIS post on Turkey activities for the classroom and grab a FREE Turkey in Disguise family project!

What Thanksgiving reading activities are you planning for this month? Let me know below!

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Must Have Thanksgiving Activities 1

Hi, I'm Amy

Hey, y’all! My name is Amy Lemons and I am passionate about providing students with both engaging and effective standards-based Math and ELA lessons.


Sample a day of Rooted in Reading with these lesson plans and activities for Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Grammar!