Help your ESL/ELD students get the most out of their first local Thanksgiving with these language building activities. An introduction to basic Thanksgiving vocabulary is a prerequisite for all of these activities. A basic thanksgiving vocabulary list is available here.
Reading Comprehension: The First Thanksgiving
Abcteach.com has a reading comprehension resources about the first Thanksgiving that is appropriate for beginning and intermediate English learners. The upper elementary version is appropriate for students reading at a 3rd to 5th grade reading level and is available at this site. A multiple choice reading comprehension quiz follows the reading. (Note: There are several other free language building resources on abcteach.com, including two thanksgiving crossword puzzles, several writing prompts, and a Thanksgiving nouns word sort. All are available at the Thanksgiving theme page.
Vocabulary: “Thanks” Word Family
Explore the word family surrounding the word “thanks.” Derivatives include: thankful, thankfulness, thanksgiving, thankless, unthankful, thanking, and thankfully. Phrases including the word “thank” include: thank you, Thanksgiving Day, give thanks, thank you note, and more. The easiest, and most visual way to explore a word family is to place the root word “thank” in the middle of the page with a bubble around it and let students brainstorm as many variations as they can or use a dictionary as a resource. Create a web with the added words by placing them in their own bubbles with lines linking them to the closest related word (“thankful” would be linked to “thank” and “unthankful” would be linked to “thankful”). As each word is added to the web, discuss how the prefixes and suffixes change the meaning of the word.
Oral Language Development: Thanksgiving Language Practice
Pair students up to practice speaking using the following dialogue patterns:
Student A: What are you thankful for?
Student B: I am thankful for ____________ because _____________. What are you thankful for?
Student A: I am thankful for ____________ because _____________.
Student A: What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving?
Student B: My favorite part about Thanksgiving is _____________. What’s your favorite part?
Student A: My favorite part is _____________.
Writing: Thanksgiving Writing Prompts
A simple acrostic poem can be created by having students write “I am thankful for” at the top of the page and the letters for THANKSGIVING down the left side of the page. For each letter of the word, students need to write something they are thankful for that begins with that letter. More advanced students can also write why they are thankful for each item.
Journal writing prompt questions can help students make use of their language skills and get their thoughts on paper. Prompt ideas include:
Why is Thanksgiving an important holiday?
How will you celebrate Thanksgiving this year?
How would you like to celebrate Thanksgiving?
What are you most thankful for?
Describe what you know about the first Thanksgiving dinner.
What does it mean to be thankful?