Ideas for Thanksgiving and Gratitude lessons.

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magazine Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of the year. It’s a great opportunity to pause and appreciate all the things we have. Even if you and your students don’t celebrate this holiday, it’s a great excuse to plan lessons on gratitude or kindness. Below, we have a few ideas for activities that you can use around this time of year.

Gratitude plates

Prepare a few white paper plates. Write a short question or a task on each one. Make sure they’re somehow related to gratitude or kindness.

For example:

What are you grateful for?

Who makes you happy?

In what ways has English language made your life better? etc.

Make as many plates as you have students. Give one to each student. Their task is to write a short answer to the question on their plate. Next, they send the plate to the person sitting on their right, and at the same time, they’re receiving a plate from a person sitting on their left. They now have to answer the question on that plate. But, they have to make sure their answers are different to the ones that have already been written on the plates by other students.

The victories jar

Bring an empty jar to class. Have some small pieces of paper ready. Every time a student has a victory in your lesson, put it on the piece of paper, and throw it in the jar. For example: Juan learnt all the irregular past verb forms. Monica has no more problems with pronouncing the word: available. Have a few days in the school year (one of them could be around Thanksgiving) when you open the jar and, together with the students, go through all the victories they had. It will definitely boost their morale and motivation for learning English.

Thanksgiving project

Take this opportunity to familiarise your students with Thanksgiving (if they don’t know this holiday). Watch a short video on Thanksgiving during the lesson. It could be a video on how the holiday is celebrated or its history. If you don’t have time during the lesson, set it as homework a few days before. After watching the video, in small groups students do one of these projects:

  • an information poster about Thanksgiving
  • a short comic strip on the history of Thanksgiving
  • a Thanksgiving menu for a restaurant

Something nice

Get a few pieces of paper. On each one write a name of one student from the group. Throw them all into one box and let the students draw one each. Just make sure that everyone has a piece with a name of a different student and not their own. Their task is to write something nice about the person whose name they have drawn. After everyone’s finished, collect all the pieces of paper and read out all the nice things about everyone.

Thanksgiving your way

This is an activity for students whose countries don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Their task is to come up with some ideas on how Thanksgiving would be celebrated in their own country.

They think about:

  • what would they eat for Thanksgiving dinner
  • how would the holiday be celebrated
  • what would the country be grateful for

In short, they brainstorm some ideas for equivalent of Thanksgiving in their own countries.


That’s it! We hope that these activities will make your Thanksgiving lessons something to be grateful for 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re looking for more ideas and ready-to-use resources for Thanksgiving and gratitude lessons, check out this issue of Twofold Magazine for teachers:

Twofold Magazine #9 Thanksgiving

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