The week before Thanksgiving it’s easy to feel a little scattered! For teachers AND students. It can be nice to take a break from your main unit and focus on some activities that still promote ELA skills but give kids something freshly engaging to focus on. And since I imagine your attention is a bit divided at the moment between lesson planning, menu planning, and maybe even packing lists, I’d like to give you three day’s worth of activities that you can plug and play next week to take the pressure off yourself.
Ooh real quick, before we start. Next week on Black Friday I’ll be opening The Lighthouse, for the first time ever, for a $1 trial week. I love what’s happening in our Lighthouse community SO MUCH that I just want everyone to at least see if it’s right for them. So be sure to check your email on Friday, November 24 for a special ONE DAY ONLY opportunity to test out The Lighthouse for one week for only $1. If you’ve been on the fence these last few years, this is your chance to join over 700 other individual teachers, many school departments, and even an entire school district inside and see what it’s like to have a full-time curriculum writer on your team.
You can listen in to this episode below, click here to tune in on any podcast player, or read on for the full post.
Native American Heritage Month: Explore the Authors and Artists on your Interactive Display
November is Native American Heritage Month. Do you have your new display up featuring Native American writers, poets, and creators? You can grab it free here if you don’t already have it! You could easily spend a day exploring the works of the featured artists on this display.
Let’s talk logistics.
To keep things super simple, just let students read the bios and explore the QR codes on your display to learn more about all the different creators. Invite them to share back what they learned about their favorite artist in a small group at the end, and then have each small group present back one artist to the whole class.
Another option would be to scatter the materials around your room a bit to create stations. If you have time, you could hit the school or public library to bring in books by the different featured author. You could print some of the poems or song lyrics as well. In this case, you might consider having students create a one-pager about what they learn or use a sketchnotes template to jot down their top takeaways.
Thanksgiving in ELA: Gratitude Videos
The science behind the power of gratitude is very clear. Gratitude makes our lives better, not the other way around.
Spending a day focused on gratitude makes for an easy win the week before Thanksgiving. In the short video below featuring Brene Brown, students will learn more about the research behind gratitude. In years of study, Brene learned that it’s not if you’re joyful you’ll be grateful, it’s that practicing gratitude leads to joy. And that gratitude has to be a tangible practice.
Let students put what they learned in this video into practice right away. They could do the guided gratitude journal pictured here (free download below), and/or write thank you notes to folks in their lives.
You can make your copy of the guided journal and thank you notes here. (Lighthouse members, this activity is part of the larger “SEL Strengths Character Mini-Unit” in the “Stress Relief” section of The Lighthouse.)
Another idea would be to let students use the thank you cards to shout out people at your school, writing their names above the thank you message, then personalizing it below. They could create a wall of gratitude somewhere in your school, and set up a table with tape, markers, and notes ready for others to contribute to the wall. Students could even take turns staffing the table at lunch to encourage others to participate.
Thanksgiving in ELA: The Mr. Thankful Video + Gratitude Drag-and-Drop Poetry Tiles
If you go all the way until Wednesday and you need another day, you can continue the focus on gratitude with these two fun activities.
First off, check out the Mr. Thankful Video below and make sure it feels like a good fit for your classroom.
I first saw this last summer at family tennis camp with my son, and I found it both hilarious and super impactful. It’s a quick watch, and then you could let students chat with a partner about what they thought of it. The key takeaway for me personally was that it didn’t necessarily make the OTHER people in the protagonist’s life so much happier that he was thankful, but it really made HIM happier. Which is the opposite of what I would have expected if you asked me before watching. But it actually makes a lot of sense.
Following up on the video, try a creative reboot by having students create gratitude poems from my (free) gratitude drag-and-drop poetry tiles. I consistently hear from teachers that their students find these poetry tiles to be a fun creative springboard they can actually focus on for the day before a break.
Students simply drag the tiles they like into a poem, then delete the rest. Watch the process in this super quick video.
Once the poems are done, you can have students copy them into a class slideshow to share, or even print them as a display students can return to after break.
You can sign up for my Friday emails full of teaching ideas below, and this gratitude poetry kit will be the first thing I send your way.
Ready for Thanksgiving Week?
OK, while I’m tempted to also share a half dozen of my favorite recipes for the Thanksgiving meal too, I’ll leave it at classroom recipes. I hope you found something here that will lighten your load next week!