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Freebie Alert! Thanksgiving Writing Activity for Primary Grades

With the holiday season on its way, and with the wild year that has been 2020 coming to a close, there is no better time than now to practice gratitude. I know we have moved mountains this year by adapting our curriculum and teaching during a pandemic. Many of us feel like we’re in survival mode as we wrap up the first half of the school year. That’s why, as we approach the holidays and some much deserved school breaks, I love doing activities that focus on what is going well and what we are thankful for in our lives.

Mindset is a super important part of building resilience. Gratitude and thankfulness isn’t explicitly addressed in most curriculum standards. BUT it’s such an important element to help little ones, and big people too, develop ways to cope with things that feel out of our control. It’s never too early or too late to start practicing gratitude.

Just in time for November, I have a fun Thanksgiving Freebie for you to use with your students. It will not only help kids think critically about what they are thankful for and WHY, but it gives them a chance to write and apply grade level skills. All while accessing that gratitude mindset that we all need right now.

Let’s break it down: How can primary grades use this fun Thanksgiving freebie?

I’ll share how I used this resource with my primary students so you can picture how it might work for you.

Step 1: Collect ideas

Together, we brainstormed things, people, and places that we are thankful for. I encouraged the kids to really think about WHY they are thankful for that thing. It isn’t very meaningful to say “I’m thankful for my playstation” or “I’m thankful for my mom.”

I pressed them to really focus on the “because” behind those statements. When they started to complete their thoughts with “because,” I could see the light bulbs go off for them! They started digging deep into their gratitude, which was awesome!

A student shared: “I’m thankful for my mom because she takes care of me and plans fun things and cooks yummy food.”

Step 2: Time to draft

This writing template has six spaces, so I broke it down like this:

  1. Who is a person that you are thankful for?
  2. Where is one place you are thankful for?
  3. What is one thing you are thankful for?
  4. Name an event in your life you are thankful for.
  5. Share something about yourself that you are thankful for (either your physical appearance or a quality).
  6. Your choice! Most wanted to choose a second person they were thankful for.

For each section, they had to write the REASON they are thankful for that thing. Example: for the person category, instead of writing “I am thankful for my dad,” they had to write “My dad plays with me at the park.”

Step 3: Edit and revise

In an ideal situation, you would allow time for a round of peer or self-editing and a revision. Don’t worry! If you’re strapped for time, as we all often are, you don’t have to complete the entire writing process. Do what works for you. This freebie is flexible!

Step 4: Turkey Time

Have your students write their final drafts on the PDF and decorate their turkeys. They may not be able to color them in if you’re virtual, but depending on your district’s digital resources, there are lots of ways you could address this. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Step 5: Display student writing

When other people see this on your walls, it might encourage them to take stock of what makes them feel thankful this year.

If you’re teaching virtually and don’t have physical walls to display it on, you still have great options. Consider posting them on a digital newsletter, email, teacher websites, class social media pages, blogs, etc. I know you guys come up with so many innovative ideas. Please share with me what works for you on instagram!

Are you a teacher looking for some other great Thanksgiving ideas? Consider an I Am Thankful Class Book that can work in preschool and primary grades. I also offer a Thanksgiving Craftivity in my TPT Store for grades K-2, and fun Thanksgiving Activities for centers, games, and literacy time in 1st and 2nd grade.

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