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Teacher and schoolchildren in class

By: Mary Ware

The holidays are quickly approaching and for student-patients, just because they are away from home doesn’t mean that holiday anticipation ceases to exist. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holidays are a special time for many students, and it is important to help students feel connected to their traditions, especially when they are unable to be at home with their families.

The busy holiday season also means many different priorities that may cause time restraints for teachers. Today we are sharing some ready-to-go lesson plans centered around Thanksgiving, to help bring the holidays to your classroom without having to do a lot of prep work!

Below you will find lessons for a range of ages, grades and topics. These can be completed as a full unit in the classroom, or select activities can be used to supplement when students finish—or arrive without—their regular schoolwork.


Thanksgiving Lesson Plans


Pilgrim Unit of Study

This unit plan can be adjusted fro PreK-5th grade, and includes 29 printables that cover subjects ranging from Language Arts to Science, Math and Visual Arts. There are also quite a few craft activities that would make for a fun class project.


Jamestown Unit

Give a glimpse into life in the new world with this unit on Jamestown. Ideal for 4th-8th graders, this unit plan includes grammar, vocabulary, spelling and geography skills. The unit is based on the book James Towne: Struggle for Survival by Marcia Sewall.


First Thanksgiving for K-1st

This festive unit is filled with creative hands-on activities to introduce the youngest students to pilgrim life and Thanksgiving. Broken up into a five days, the unit covers the Journey on the Mayflower, Life as a Pilgrim, Life as a Native American, The First Thanksgiving, and How We Celebrate Thanksgiving. These craft based lessons will help students learn about the significance of the holiday while engaging in exciting learning opportunities.


Surviving Thanksgiving: Lessons of Gratitude for Secondary ELA

This high school based unit is full of activities that focus on common aspects of the Thanksgiving that teens can relate to, such as entitlement vs. gratitude, and discussing culture/family values when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner and shopping holiday deals. It also includes a movie viewing pack for The Blind Side.


Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation: A Rhetorical Analysis Activity

When students study the first Thanksgiving, they typically do so with stories of pilgrims and Native Americans. But what about learning how Thanksgiving became a national holiday? This interesting lesson plan provides background of the Civil War and uses Abraham Lincoln’s two Thanksgiving Proclamations to encourages student to analyze and understand the persuasion behind his statements.

When planning your lessons, here are also a few books to keep in mind to incorporate into Thanksgiving lesson plans:

  • The Pilgrims First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern
  • If You Were At… The First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma
  • The Thanksgiving Story by Anne Dalgliesh
  • If You Sailed on The Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern
  • The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross
  • Or for some fun turkey themed books, check out this list of 12 great ones!

There are many ways that hospital teachers can approach and incorporate Thanksgiving history and values into their hospital education curriculum. These are just a few ways to do so—but the holiday offers limitless opportunities for creative lesson planning. For help discussing spending holidays away from their families or traditions, be sure to communicate with the treatment team in order for support.


Happy Thanksgiving!