I’m all about the stress-free part of teaching, and with the holidays, comes the crazies. So making the days before a little less stressful without sacrificing fun is KEY. Thanksgiving activities are included in this mix. So I thought I would share a little bit of what I like to do in my own class the day before the break to keep things engaging but manageable.
STATIONS MAKE IT EASY PEASY
Much like Halloween, I like to make the most of the day by setting up some super easy, mostly independent stations, that will engage my students. You can decide based on how much time you have in your schedule just how long students are at each station, but I generally like to keep it between 10-12 minutes with no more than four students at any one station at the same time. So for instance, in my classroom of 20 students, I will have 6 stations with 3-4 students at each station. It will take me about an hour and a half for students to get to all 6 stations. If you would work better with a schedule that only includes 4 or 5 stations, that’s perfectly fine. Or, just in case you need a few extra stations, I will add a couple of additional ideas here that you can try. To find out more about any of these activities, just click on the pictures or highlighted text.
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THANKFUL FOR GEOBOARDS
There are a few activities that are basic staples in my class. geoboards, Legos, q-tip dotters and dough are things I just always have around and I’m using in one way or another. So because my students are familiar with these activities, geoboards are a familiar activity and tool that students end up using independently and independent equals No Stress!!!
I use a couple of different levels of difficulty so I’m never worried that it might be too hard or too easy for any one student.
THANKS FOR THE DOUGH
I can’t seem to give my students enough opportunities to play with dough. I mean it is basically available for them in one form or another to use every day. I have it in their morning work stations, and we are using it for math and literacy . . . but they never tire of it. And I’m ok with that because let’s face it, it’s one of the best fine motor tools I can offer them.
So for Thanksgiving, I give two different prompts. They can complete a turkey, disguise a turkey
or make a turkey dinner. They are both included in my November Morning Work Stations packet, so whichever one I don’t use in those stations, I use for these Thanksgiving Stress-Free Stations the day before break. (I love that there are so many activities in morning work packets that I can spread out activities into other areas to give more fine motor practice.)
TURKEY BASTER FEATHER RACERS
If there is going to be a less stress day, there needs to be some kind of race involved. Turkey baster feather racers are so much fun. They are akin to the spider races we did for Halloween, but with feathers and turkey basters. The basters are used for propelling the feathers forward, but we all know that feathers have a mind of their own so they seldom go where planned and that’s what makes them so darn fun. Line two students up at the end of a table and see who can cross the finish line first.
I promise this is going to be a favorite activity, but it won’t be a quiet one.
This is another super easy station because my students use Legos nearly every day in one way or another. This time it’s to recreate a Thanksgiving item. I have a Pilgrims hat, wishbone, turkey, a ship and other various items related to the holiday that are included in my Fall Lego Building Blocks packet.
All you need are some small bases like the ones I use and legos in a bunch of different colors.
But, hey if you’re interested in just trying it on for size, you can snatch up this freebie and see what your students think.
Just click on the picture above to find the blog post where I share it.
THANKS A DOT
All you need are cotton swabs and some paint and you’ll have your station.
As an alternative, you can always give them a simple picture of a bare Autumn tree and have them use their fingers to make the little dotted leaves.
Either way, this is a familiar activity that we use nearly every day for morning work and literacy stations and math, so my students know how to manage the tools and clean it up easily.
This is another super independent station that my students LOVE. There are several different images and levels from which you can choose to print.
You can either have your students cut up paper straws for this station or just grab some super inexpensive foam beads from Amazon. I’ve had the bag I purchased for years. There are so many little beads in there. I use pipe cleaners for them to string a pattern (or not. It’s up to you.) and make a little something to remember the day.
And because my students BEG to do this, I have them shucking corn. I know this seems like a crazy idea to folks that don’t see feed corn readily available at their local department store or gas station, but in Michigan, this stuff is everywhere.
My students love using these in the sensory table so we make it a race to see who can shuck the most in the time allotted and then we use our scales to weigh the results.
And that’s it, folks. Choose 4 or 5 of these activities and have your students rotate through them. I promise you, you’ll find something that suits everyone and, the best part is, you’ll leave for the break with your sanity intact and having had a great day with your kids. And really aren’t we all thankful for a day like that?
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