Level: Beginner (A2) to Upper Intermediate (B2)
Time: 60 – 90 mins
Language: learning about the Thanksgiving tradition
Additional resources: lesson uses YouTube and Kahoot
To make things easier for you
Everything you say is colour-coded blue.
Everything you write & examples are colour-coded orange.
Warm-up (15 min)
1. Summon one of your students to the front of the classroom.
Maintain a pokerface so that the whole class isn’t sure of your intentions.
2. Look the student dead in the eyes, stretching that suspense for as long as you can, and finally, smile and, thank them for something personal.
Thank you for cleaning the board last week.
Thank you that you helped your partner with the exercise yesterday.
3. Next, ask another student to stand up and express your gratitude again. Do this with 2 – 3 more students.
4. Instruct the last student to pick someone in the classroom, ask them to stand up, and express their gratitude in a similar way to you.
5. Continue this with another 5 – 6 students.
6. Finally, instruct the entire class to get up on their feet and walk around the classroom thanking each other.
7. Depending on their age, this will likely get crazy pretty fast. Allow them to have fun for 1 – 2 minutes, then instruct to come back to their seats.
Exercise: Mind Map (15 min)
1. Write on the board: to express gratitude = to say thank you
2. Explain that once a year there is a celebration (mainly in the USA) where people get together to express their gratitude for all the good things in life.
3. Ask if they know the name of this celebration.
4. Write down THANKSGIVING in the middle of the board.
5. Instruct your students to write that word in the middle of a blank page in their notebooks.
6. Either working individually, in pairs or in small groups, ask your students to make a simple mind map with all the information they know about Thanksgiving.
7. Volunteers share their work with the rest of the class.
Video: History of Thanksgiving (20 min)
1. Show the video:
Young Kids: (3 min)
Older Kids: (4:30 min)
Teenagers & Adults (6:30 min)
Note: the above classifications are merely our suggestions.
2. After watching the film, quiz your class about the Thanksgiving story.
Where did the Pilgrims arrive in 1620?
What nationality were the Pilgrims?
What happened during the first winter in Plymouth?
Nearly half of them died
Who saved them from dying the next winter?
Native American named Squanto
How did Squanto save them?
He taught them various skills
What did the pilgrims do after the successful harvest that year?
They organized a large feast
How long was the feast?
Who did they invite to the feast?
Their Native American friends
Who did they thank during the first thanksgiving dinner?
When is the Thanksgiving celebrated?
The fourth Thursday of November
3. Instruct your students to update their mind-maps with all the new information they have learned.
Class Discussion (10 – 15 min)
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your home?
What does the Thanksgiving celebration look like in your family?
If not, would you like to start that tradition?
How would you convince your family to start celebrating Thanksgiving?
Do you think that Thanksgiving is an important holiday?
Are there any benefits to expressing gratitude once a year?
What do you think of the first Thanksgiving story?
What would you do if you were in the place of Pilgrims?
Do you think that Native Americans made the right choice of helping Pilgrims?
What would you do if you were in the place of the Native Americans?
Would you like to be one of the first settlers in the New World?
Why do you think Squanto was fluent in English?
How did he learn it?
Group Exercise: Plan the Menu (15 – 20 min)
1. Brainstorm ideas with the whole class of what the Americans usually place on the thanksgiving table.
2. Split your class into groups and instruct each group to plan a delicious 3-course dinner.
Each dish should be made of at least 3 different foods:
Grilled fish with oranges and sesame seeds,
As opposed to:
A bowl of carrots.
3. You can make it harder by giving them a spending limit e.g. $200 (or even forbid them from spending any money). There should be enough food for everyone in the group (or even for the whole class).
If your students are struggling, you can support them with one of these images:
4. Groups present their ideas.
Bonus: Catch the Turkey! (5 – 10 min)
1. If you’re working with young kids, it’s best to get them up and active for a few minutes.
2. Pick one eager students and tell them that they are a turkey.
Student has to put their arms behind their back – hands open forming a turkey tail.
Also, they have to repeat: Gobble! Gobble! as they run away.
3. Send the turkey running and activate the rest of the class: Catch that turkey!
4. The person who catches the bird becomes the next turkey.
Bonus: Writing (15 – 20 min)
1. On the board write: Thank you mum and Thank you dad
2. Instruct students to write a 2 – 3 paragraphs letter expressing their gratitude to one of the parents.
3. When everyone’s finished, ask volunteers to read their work.
However, if no one’s willing to share, do not press them as letters like this are generally very personal.
Bonus: Thanksgiving Kahoot (15 – 20 min)
If you don’t know Kahoot it is a phenomenal classroom resource. Before you begin make sure that there is at least one internet device per 2 students in your classroom.
1. Follow one of these links to set up a new game:
Super Easy: (10 questions)
Easy: (12 questions)
Medium: (11 questions)
Hard: (12 questions)
Kids: Make a drawing of Pilgrims celebrating the first Thanksgiving with their Native American friends. ()
Write names of as many Thanksgiving-related words as you can, e.g. turkey, Native Americans, Pilgrims, celebration, etc.
Teenagers & Adults: read the short story titled: Thank you M’am.