Our students thrive on schedules- and they definitely need a heads up when things will be different! I love helping parents and practicing our flexibility by prepping students for thanksgiving all month long (because it really does sneak up on you quick!).
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Thanksgiving Day History
It was always important to me to talk about the History of Thanksgiving with my class each year. News- 2- You + Unique Learning often have some great resources on this topic that are symbol supported and perfect. Introducing the topic to our kids is a great history, ELA, and social skills lesson all in one!
Here are s0me tips for introducing the History of Thanksgiving visually and in a variety of ways:
+ Historically accurate books (ask your first and second grade teachers to see if there are any nonfiction Thanksgiving books floating around that are easy readers if you don’t have any!
+ YouTube videos!
http://bit.ly/CartoonThanksgivingVideo (not exactly thanksgiving but fun!)
Thanksgiving Day Books
I love introducing Thanksgiving with picture books. I always loved to switch out my books on the shelf each month. It helps keeps kids interested, lends excitement to new themes, and doesn’t allow kids to get attached to certain books. I don’t like having more than 20-25 books out on the shelf- it is just too overwhelming! So I organize my books by month into bins and switch them on for the first of every month!
Tips for Thanksgiving Day Books:
+ Choose books that show a realistic story about what their day may be like
+ Use funny books to keep them interested but remind them real/ not real
+ Use books that are being used in general education
Here are some of my November favorites!
The Night before Thanksgiving is a must have! (affiliate links!)
Thanksgiving Day Social Story
Like I said earlier, schedule changes are HARD. We have days off of school, dinner may be at different times, students may travel, and their whole schedule could be off wack. Giving them a heads up of what to expect for holiday’s is a great way to support parents at home!
Using social stories is a great way to do this. You can find social stories online, or you can make your own together as a class as part of a whole group lesson using an anchor chart! If you have a small class, you can send home a note asking parents their Thanksgiving plans and customize it to each child (parents really appreciate this!) You could even sit with each student and make them together based on parent notes.
Tips for using social stories:
+ Create them based on student need
+ Use them as a whole group lesson with assessment
+ A great opportunity to talk about difference
+ A great opportunity for compare/ contrast anchor charts
I also like to use these social stories for instruction- which means we need some type of assessment. My students are very familiar with comprehension sheets. So I make one according to their story and assess them that way. This gives me feedback on how much review I need to do before the big day!
Thanksgiving Day Schedule
Thanksgiving Day schedules are another great resource to send home with parents. If you use a basic schedule outline, you could print blank ones and have parents fill them in at home, or you could send home a baggie with a variety of visuals for students to choose. They don’t need to be laminated or perfect- since it’s for one day and may change from year to year- save your lamination and just use a glue stick 🙂
Tips for Thanksgiving Day Schedules
+ Keep it simple
+ Use basic pictures and words
+ No need for lamination
+ Go over it ahead of time and tell parents to do the same the night before
Thanksgiving in Class
Our students can sometimes be picky eaters. I started the Thanksgiving Taste Test tradition a couple years ago and I absolutely love it! There are a few ways it can be done to save you some money!
Thanksgiving in class is also a great way to build community. Your classroom is like a little family! Invite those in the school that mean the most to you (who you are thankful for!) and share why you are thankful! Spreading some kindness to other staff members goes a long way!
Some tips for in class Thanksgiving:
+ Ask for donations in the teachers room (people love to help out!)
+ Cook a couple of the items in class that week for cooking class!
+ Send home a note to parents asking them to send in a dish that will actually be at their Thanksgiving (everyone makes things differently!)
+ Ask the PTO for money towards your feast
+ Split it all up with your paraprofessionals and therapy staff!
+ Invite admin or favorite staff members of your kids!
Another tip to make this super successful- is to ask (and beg) your therapy staff to fit it into their schedule to be available. (They will want to be there too- it’s so fun!) You need a lot of hands on board to be successful with this- and the goal is for everyone to try things together at the same time to simulate eating a family meal!
Now that you’ve gotten through this monster of a post- you have plenty of time to prepare for Thanksgiving! What will you be doing in your classroom? Share in the comments!