Other Activity Ideas...

Using the Internet:
Have the students log onto the internet and surf to learn more about Thanksgiving! This is easy to do with a computer in the classroom, or the students could go two at a time to an accessible computer elsewhere in the school. Games, arts and crafts, contests and prizes, stories, history, truths, and descriptions of other harvest festivals celebrated around the world are just a few of the Thanksgiving experiences they can encounter. They will even have the opportunity to view a copy of Lincoln's actual Thanksgiving Proclamation spoken in 1863! Here are just a few sites to start off with...

After the students have the opportunity to explore Thanksgiving on the internet, allow them to print up a couple of things they found interesting. They can add these to their Thanksgiving journals. They could also simply write about their experiences and what they learned and add these descriptions to their journals/scrapbooks as well.

Harvest Festivals Around the World:
Thanksgiving as we know it in America is very culture specific. The truth is, almost every culture around the world has developed its own celebrations and festivities during fall or the harvesting season. With a lot of hard work and given some time, centers could be set up around the classroom loaded with ideas about how specific cultures celebrate their harvests. Each center could be decorated with a flag, identified on a map, and perhaps have samples of food, music, artifacts, and/or literature, all being cultural specific. I found a lot of children's literature on harvest festivals around the world at the public library: nonfiction as well as fiction. The students could use these books as references or they could simply enjoy the stories. Having the students visit each of these centers in small groups or on their own time has the potential of becoming a very exciting classroom unit. The teacher could even have specific activities listed at each center that the students could choose from to do. The activities could cover all "intelligences": art, music, science, math, language arts, drama, and even physical education. Once again, they could continue to add to their Thanksgiving journals/scrapbooks.

Giving Thanks and Sharing with Others:
While Thanksgiving is a time for being thankful for one's good fortune, it is also a time for sharing with others who may not be as comfortable in their lives. Have the students set up their own classroom food drive. Decide as a class which charitable organization to make donations to. If possible, invite other classrooms from the same grade level to join in on the project. The students could keep a classroom log and make a chart with the data describing their food drive and its success. These, of course, could become part of the Thanksgiving journal.

Set up a time line in the classroom. Post it at the front of the room, and have the dates and the time intervals all mapped out and labeled. When moving through the Thanksgiving Unit (one could begin as early as Columbus Day), the students could label important occurrences with words and pictures. Have it be up to them to decide what they would like to put up there. It could actually become a worldly activity and could even go beyond the themes of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Rapp:
Rapp music is a very rich form of expression within the African American culture. Included in this mini-unit is a Thanksgiving Rapp song printed off of the internet, written and produced by Songmeister Supreme (JRS) and DJ Gobble (APA). I edited a few verses in the song due to inappropriate language, but even still, it is a very fun and humorous activity for the children. Have the students get into their cooperative groups and practice singing and presenting this rapp song. They can assign certain parts to each member of their group (the background sounds, the singers, any classroom objects found that could be played as instruments, etc.), and when finished, can come together as a class to present their versions. If it is too much, the song could be sectioned off, and each group could become section experts. Then when the class comes together to perform, they are actually collectively performing a song where each group makes a contribution. We will be doing this in my class this upcoming week, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out. We will also be using this rapp song in sections to practice our English lessons. Have the students try to identify the number of nouns and verbs in each stanza. The student or students closest to the correct numbers could be rewarded with a prize.

Making Butter:
Making butter is very easy. Supply each student with a baby food jar, and have them fill it halfway with whipping cream. They should then screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar until butter forms. Honey can be added to the mixture to create honey butter. Refrigerate and save the butter for the classÕ Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving Feast:
very own Thanksgiving feast. They can each decide ahead of time what they think they should bring in for their meal (whether it be more modern food that they enjoy, traditional, or food items more true to the way the first Thanksgiving was). On the day of the feast, the students with parent and teacher involvement can On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, allow the students to create and experience their prepare and then eat their own Thanksgiving feast.

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