Celebrating Holidays in the Classroom: Thanksgiving Edition

This is my first year as a Library Media Specialist and my first year working with younger students. I wanted to share some Thanksgiving books with my students but when I started reading picture books I found that some were historically inaccurate. Some of the books were portraying a one-sided story. I don't want to get into the gory details about what happened because the students are very young, but I didn't want to give them inaccurate information either. I figured if I was having issues finding good resources, others might be having the same issue as well. Here are some of the resources I've been using in my library.

If your school subscribes to BranPop, they have an excellent video about Thanksgiving that gives an accurate story without going into gory details. I showed this short video to some of my older students and then I received an email from BrainPop about the video that made me feel even better about the video. This is what BrainPop said, "Developed in collaboration with members and scholars of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, our new Thanksgiving movie brings you the messy, fascinating, and sometimes painful roots of the classic American holiday. Watch the movie to share with students the real story of Thanksgiving." What I love about BrainPop is that they give you activities to go along with their videos. I've used a number of their videos in the classroom and in the library. 

One of the best books I found was from my local library, it was called Peppa Gives Thanks. No author is listed in the book but it's a Scholastic Book. I used this book with both Kindergarten and first grade. This book is not specifically for Thanksgiving but it talks about being thankful for what we have. I brainstormed a list with the students and I wrote everything that they said on the board for them to copy. I had students pick 3 things from the class list to put on their paper and I had them draw pictures of each of the items/people that they're thankful for. They came up with some really cute answers. 

Another really cute book that I found was called Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano. In this book, a turkey is trying to disguise himself as other animals in an attempt to not become Thanksgiving dinner. It was a funny book and my kindergarteners really enjoyed it. I created this handout to go along with the book. (Everything linked in this post is free). I like to have my kindergarteners trace words so that they can practice writing. The fonts I used are KG Fonts that are available here free for personal use.

With the middle grades (2nd and 3rd) I used the book Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet. This is a book about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Before reading this book I asked students how many of them have watched the parade on TV. I was very surprised that many of them didn't know about it. I showed them some pictures of the balloons on my smartboard. I teach in NY so I was very surprised that they weren't familiar with the parade. For students who are unfamiliar with the parade, this book is a great way to introduce it to them. I have several students that now want to watch the parade on TV because of this book. After reading the book I had students design their balloon as a makerspace activity. 

With my older students, I used this free writing activity from Laura Candler. I also used this holiday-themed word search as an extension activity for students that finished early. After spending 17 years working with secondary students in the classroom, TPT has really been a lifesaver for me this year. 

Let me know what you do with your students for Thanksgiving in the comments below. Happy Holidays.   

5 YouTube Channels to Help Review Language Arts Concepts

The teenagers in your class are online more than any other generation before. Sure, they’re reading articles and consuming ebooks, but more and more, their medium of choice is video. Video demonstrations of important English and reading ideas help this generation of visual learners.

Share these 5 YouTube Channels to help review language arts concepts with your high school students.

Crash Course

Brothers Hank and John Green (you know, The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns. . .) have their own YouTube channel with tons of educational content for a wide array of subject areas. One of my favorite playlists for high school English students is the Literature playlist. Popular high school reads like The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Things Fall Apart are just a few titles on the list of videos focusing on literary concepts like theme and character. Check out all the channel has to offer, and share with your non-ELA colleagues as well!

Vancouver Poetry Slam

Slam Poetry is one of the most powerful things you can introduce to an English class. Slam is more than just a free verse poem. Introducing this spoken form of poetry, performed on stage (often competitively), allows students to share their voices in a powerful, innovative way. The Vancouver Poetry Slam channel showcases poetry from the weekly Vancouver, British Columbia poetry slam. Make sure to review videos before sharing with your class. Some have sensitive topics or may be triggering for some students. After viewing some slam poems from the channel, encourage your students to write their own slam poetry. Have a poetry cafe or showcase to allow your students to share their own unique voices. What a perfect way to review the elements of poetry and create original works with your students.

Intelligence Squared

Whether you teach a debate course or integrate into your ELA class, this channel is perfect for teaching and reviewing argumentative writing, the art of the argument, or debate. The channel is nonpartisan and pairs two teams of experts arguing for or against public policy issues in the United States. In a world where our students are trying to stay informed of current issues while avoiding left or right-wing media bias, this channel does an excellent job of providing both sides of issues ranging from fake news, social media regulation, international trade and more.

Khan Academy

Oh, Khan Academy. The channel that has helped many an advanced math student get through calculus and stats has expanded to include more subjects than you can count on your fingers and toes. The Grammar Channel makes it easy to review parts of speech all the way through relative clauses. Grammar has never been so much fun!

Grammar Girl

Need more grammar review? More than 11,000 subscribers can’t be wrong! While Khan Academy rocks at reviewing parts of speech, homophones, and sentence parts, Grammar Girl covers just about everything else as well. You can even kick it old school and teach your kids how to diagram sentences - Grammar Girl style! Grammar Girl helps with precise language in writing by addressing word choice and the differences between different phrases. These 5 YouTube Channels to help review language arts concepts will help your students learn more about literature, review argument and debates, and get more help on grammar and writing concepts. Bring video to your high school ELA classroom!


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