In America, the month of November is all about Thanksgiving. From Thanksgiving dinner to Black Friday shopping, this particular holiday season is full of family traditions, and that’s why it’s the perfect time to start thanksgiving writing for kindergarten.
And since Thanksgiving time is a special time for many families, students will enjoy bringing their thanksgiving traditions into their writings.
So let’s dive deep into how to make Thanksgiving writing for kindergarten effective and meaningful.
Introducing Thanksgiving to Your Students
Give Them Time to Talk
The very first thing you want to do when introducing any new concept is to spend time talking with your students and asking them questions about what they already know.
This is one of the best ways to see who is familiar with the content and who needs to have the opportunity to develop.
It is also a great way to let your elementary kids share their favorite things about Thanksgiving. It’s a good idea to build in time for these conversations because they are going to happen whether you make time for them or not.
So let them talk about the way their mom decorates the living room or about how the Thanksgiving turkey from last year was so big it looked like it was going to pop!
Allowing them to have a little bit of time to discuss these facts that are VERY important to them will help them feel seen.
Then when you are ready to start sharing the history of Thanksgiving they won’t be waving their arms around dying to tell you everything they didn’t have the opportunity to share earlier.
Just be sure that you have taught them how to behave during discussion time. It is important that they are aware of the expectations you have for them.
Begin with History
Start by introducing the concept of Thanksgiving to the students. Obviously, most students who have been in America for awhile are familiar with this particular holiday.
And because it means some time off to celebrate, students are already going to be excited. So tap into that excitement and shift it into writing!
Open the conversation with questions about the first Thanksgiving and see if your kindergarten students have any prior knowledge they can tap into.
Then take them on a journey into the history of thanksgiving.
Use non-fiction texts with images that help children understand how difficult it was for both people groups and how the Native Americans helped the pilgrims live through the winter by teaching them the skills they needed to survive.
This is a perfect way to lead into the conversation about what it means to be thankful and why the pilgrims were thankful to the Native Americans for showing such kindness.
Building Thanksgiving vocabulary for kindergarten students can be an engaging and interactive process. Here are some words that would be ideal to use as vocabulary for Thanksgiving…
- Native American
You can print two of each vocabulary word to make a Thanksgiving Memory game for your little learners.
Then use visuals including real photos and illustrations, flashcards, sight words, and props to help the children understand and remember these words.
Bring in pumpkins, share videos of turkeys gobbling, and let them see corn in the husk.
This will help them make connections between the words they are seeing and what those words represent.
Read Non-Fiction and Fiction Texts
The best way to become a good writer is listening to good writing.
Read age-appropriate non-fiction and fiction picture books that include descriptive language and vocabulary related to the holiday.
This will help your students get acquainted with Thanksgiving traditions and stories.
Some of my favorite Thanksgiving books include…
As you read, pause to explain new words and concepts, and discuss how the author describes the scenery using descriptive language.
Now everything we have just discussed is important to give students context, but what about the actual writing process?
The Thanksgiving Writing Process
Just to be clear, the Thanksgiving writing process follows the same trajectory as the traditional writing process, but the theme is…you guessed it…Thanksgiving. So where should we begin?
Well if you started with the things I mentioned, then your students will already have been part of a great discussion.
No doubt they will have shared more information than anyone needed to know, but they feel good about their contribution to the conversation.
They will also have learned about the historical importance of the holiday, and listened to a few non-fiction and fiction texts related to Thanksgiving read aloud.
So that means they are ready to write!!
Model the writing process by creating a Thanksgiving-themed sentence, short paragraph, or short story on the board.
This will show students how to structure their writing and use appropriate vocabulary.
You can use a sentence from one of the stories you have read or a basic sentence you have written. The key is pointing out usage and grammar.
The most crucial points to introduce from the start are…
- a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence
- a punctuation mark at the end
- appropriate spacing between words
- important information
Provide Sentence Frames
One of the greatest struggles for newbie writers is coming up with sentences or ideas out of their own heads.
So incorporating a sentence frame (or several) with a thanksgiving prompt at the beginning to help them get started on their writing journey is pivotal to their writing success.
Consider a few sentence frames like these…
- “I am thankful for ___ because ____.”
- “On Thanksgiving, my family ____.”
- “During Thanksgiving, we eat ____.”
You can take these directly from the conversations and discussion you had as a group earlier or you can simply come up with them in the moment.
Utilize Graphic Organizers
Some people think of graphic organizers as a crutch, but I believe graphic organizers are an excellent tool for helping students organize their thoughts before writing and prevent writer’s block when it’s time to start the actual sentence writing.
Graphic organizers are also an excellent way to differentiate for students who are not quite ready to write full sentences.
Maybe some of your students need time to build up to sentences. Allow them to draw pictures or write a word in each box or circle.
This will give them the appropriate stepping stone they need to become writers without the same pressure of being on the same level as everyone else.
Allow for Individual Writing Time
Time is probably the biggest issue most teachers face when I mention Thanksgiving writing for kindergarten.
We only have a certain amount of time that we can devote to our writing block each day or each week and it doesn’t take long for that time to disappear.
So consider incorporating writing activities into morning work, literacy centers, or even into other subjects.
The most important takeaway is that kids have to be instructed on how to write properly and then given ample time to hone their new skills.
Then offer support and guidance as needed with spelling, sentence structure, and vocabulary usage.
Encourage your students to illustrate their writings to further express their ideas.
This gives them a “break” from the actual construction of sentences and words and lets them tap into their more creative side.
Encourage Writing Sharing
Some kids will be really excited about what they have created and most kids love seeing their hard work displayed.
So create a space where students can showcase their hard work and add time into your lesson plans to allow for reading of writing.
This will give them a sense of accomplishment and provide an opportunity for others to appreciate their work.
If you notice sharing doesn’t work well in a whole group, allow students to share with a partner or their small group. This fosters excellent communication and listening skills.
Create a Thanksgiving Classroom Writing Center
A classroom writing center is my favorite way to provide students with ample time to write and develop their craft.
In an ideal situation, this center will include basic supplies needed to write like pencils, pens, paper, and crayons as well as other useful tools like sticky notes, clipboards, graphic organizers, and relevant thanksgiving worksheets.
Add a fun Thanksgiving twist, by post new vocabulary words on the word walls near the writing center where students can see them.
So let’s look at some of the fun Thanksgiving writing activities you can include in your writing center that will build your students’ writing stamina.
Play simple word games like “I Spy” with Thanksgiving-themed items. For instance, “I spy something orange and round that we carve for Halloween.”
This encourages them to use descriptive vocabulary to describe things they see.
Art and Crafts
Engage in art and craft activities related to Thanksgiving. I know this seems like a crazy idea when we are talking about Thanksgiving writing for kindergarten.
But the truth is, our young learners need to have opportunities to develop secondary skills that will give them the confidence to become better writers.
While working on these projects, discuss the names of the materials and items being used. Bring in fall colors, lots of construction paper, and an open mind. Then watch them create thankful turkeys or pumpkins.
While this would not seem like the type of thing to have in a writing center, it is ideal as we are diving into Thanksgiving writing for kindergarten because our young writers need to have the opportunity to explore and describe things with all of their senses.
Create sensory bins with items related to Thanksgiving, such as dried corn kernels, small pumpkins, the inside guts of a pumpkin or squash, dried seeds, leaves, etc.
Then encourage students to use descriptive words to describe textures, colors, and shapes.
One of my favorite ways to give students opportunities to practice writing is by building sentences.
This activity requires students to cut out a pre-written sentence, paste it in the correct order, write the sentence, and then add their own unique illustration.
If you want a morning work activity that students will enjoy and that will get them primed for more individualized writing, this is the perfect resource.
Labeling and Describing
Good writers need to be able to describe things in detail. And this ability begins with being able to label common things.
So give your students the opportunity to go around the writing center, classroom, or school labeling different Thanksgiving props, items, and decorations with sticky notes.
By providing them with sticky notes, a clipboard, and a pencil, you are giving them a superpower. They will feel invincible!!
Once they have had time to label all sorts of things, ask them to write down interesting words that describe the items they have labeled.
This is an easy way to help them build confidence in their word smithing abilities and hone their writing skills.
Remember, at the kindergarten level, the focus should be on fostering creativity, language development, and a positive attitude towards writing.
Keep the activities age-appropriate and enjoyable to ensure a successful Thanksgiving writing experience for your students.
These fun writing activities will help young learners develop a love of writing that will carry them through the end of the year and into the rest of their academic careers.