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10 Engaging Thanksgiving Classroom Activities

Despite the 70 degree weather on November 4th in Northern Michigan, I couldn’t help but share with you a few of my classroom favorite Thanksgiving activities.  These are the activities that keep them coming back for more.  They engage and delight while challenging them and helping them practice and build skills.  If you want to check out any other these activities, just click on the pictures or the activity title.

ten engaging thanksgiving

Number One:  Thanksgiving Yatta!!!

Yatta is one of those anchor activities that my students always want to play.  They don’t ‘get’ that they are actually learning.  They just think it’s fun.  The best part for me as a teacher is that I can use this game for just about any type of math or reading skill.  I change the theme, and they think it’s a brand new game.  They win because they love it.  I win because they are familiar with the activity, can play it independently and they’re learning. You can find out more about this Yatta game here!


Or watch this short clip of Yatta in action.

YouTube video

We use these games for all kinds of Math and Phonics skills.  If you’d like to see some ‘non-thematic’ Yatta games, click HERE.  You’ll find tons of skills and options to get you through the year.

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Number 3:  Writing With Turkey Feathers

It doesn’t really matter what you have them write, sight words, vocabulary . . . I actually had these little guys drawing a picture and labeling it to go with a Thanksgiving prompt we were working on that day.   I explain that in the days of the pilgrims, they didn’t have pencils and crayons.  They used quills.  Is it a novelty? Yep!  Does it engage them and make them more interested in writing? You bet!  Does it get even your most reluctant writers to write? It sure does.


Number 3:  The Story of Thanksgiving Reader and Bead Activity

Sometimes getting a reluctant reader to take a chance on reading and feeling successful is the first step.  I like providing readers with predictable text that they can practice and feel confident reading, especially for those readers that are still just getting their feet wet.  With the Thanksgiving Story, little guys often miss some of the details, so having a prompt to help them retell is always a tool.  Story beads have been around forever and, while they could use this reader without the beads, it always makes it more engaging for them.


Then when it’s finished, they can take the reader home and the bracelet and retell the story to their family.  You can find out more about this activity here.


Number 4:  Talking Turkey I Spy Sight Words

Magnifying glasses are a given in my classroom and my students love the chance to play detective.  So this differentiated I-spy activity is always a favorite.  I usually have them practice on a laminated/color version.


But because I don’t always think they get a chance to ‘color,’ I always let them take home a black and white version to work on at home if they want.


Half the fun is finding those little words.


Then I differentiate this activity, not only by having 11 different sight word leveled I-spy mats, but also by having different recording sheets that I can offer them.


Number 5:  Thanksgiving Making 10 (or 20) Play-doh Mats

Play-doh is something that really never goes away in my classroom.  I can’t tell what an incredible motivator it is for students who like to work with their hands and it keeps those fine motor muscles strong.  This activity gives that tactile ‘fix’ while working on how many more do they need to make ten.  But, of course, that’s just too easy for some of my kinders, so I have differentiated this activity by also offering a ‘how many more to make 20’ set of mats.


Number 6:  Sensory Table Fun

November I reserve my big sensory table for ‘shucking corn’ and acorns.  The fine motor muscles used to shuck corn is reason alone to have this station, but when you add some scales and magnifying glasses and leave the station open-ended, you’ll find your kinders exploring, comparing and measuring  . . . it’s discovery at it’s finest.


Number 7:  Thanksgiving Spinner Fun

I use spinners for just about any skill.  They are easy to differentiate and students love the feel of ‘game play’ that they offer.  This particular activity is simply a counting and number identification activity.  The spinner they use depends on their readiness level.  While some students might be using a different spinner, they can all feel confident and successful because they are being challenged at their own level.


Number 8:  Gobbling Up Missing Numbers-An I Spy Activity

This time I-spy takes on math and counting on.  Some students work with numbers 0-10 while other students are using numbers to 15 or even 0-20.  It is easily differentiated so they are always challenged.


Number 9:  Write the Room For Thanksgiving Ten Frames Fun

This write the room activity has students searching the classroom for ten frames cards.  Some cards have only numbers 0-10 and others may have 0-20.  Students work on the numbers that are appropriate for their level of readiness.  When they find the card, they identify the number, write it in the box and count on.  There are actually a couple of different types of response sheets to keep play work interesting and engaging.  They love it because it’s a big scavenger hunt and they get to move.


Number 10:  Sensory Table Thanksgiving Word Work Fun from November Sensory Table Activity Packet

Because one sensory table is never enough, I always have smaller sensory bins available for my students.  This one is located in our Daily 5 Word Work station.  For one set of students, they would work on these cards to match CVC words with their pictures.  Another set of students might be matching rhyming words to pictures or even beginning letter sounds and pictures.  Regardless of their readiness level, each student is equipped with the appropriate materials that will allow them to be engaged and feel successful at this activity.


So there you have it, 10 of the most engaging and favorite activities in my class.  I have a couple more I’ll share soon, but until then, if you’d like to find out more about any of these activities, you can click on the pictures.



Thanksgiving in Kindergarten is all about turkeys, pilgrims, and fun.  Here are some great hands-on, primary activities that will keep your students engaged while learning essential skills.  Sensory activities, literacy, math and so much more.  You'll want to check out these activities to get some great ideas for your own classroom before the holiday.

Marsha Moffit McGuire

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