If you’re looking for some ideas for a Thanksgiving ESL lesson plan, then you’re certainly in the right place. Holiday lessons, including Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas, can be fun and entertaining for ESL students. Keep on reading for the top ESL thanksgiving games and activities, along with lessons, worksheets, and other good stuff. This article also has many useful Thanksgiving videos for the classroom!
ESL Thanksgiving Activities and Games
Let’s get into the best Thanksgiving TEFL games and activities to try out with your students.
#1: What are you Thankful For?
I love to include a lesson on thankfulness around Thanksgiving! After all, this is what this popular holiday is all about. And the food, of course too!
There are a number of approaches here, but a nice ending point is for students to talk, write or make a short presentation about things that they are thankful for.
#2: Let’s Talk Thanksgiving Food
In many countries around the world (Asia!), students won’t be that familiar with Thanksgiving food. That’s why I like to dedicate a lesson to it and try to tie it into special holiday food in the students’ own countries.
Who doesn’t like talking food, right? That’s what makes this a great topic!
#3: Odd One Out
#4: Thanksgiving Charades
For a party class, I always love a fun game of charades! It’s easy to make holiday-themed words like:
- eat turkey
- make stuffing
- carve the turkey
- play football
- take a nap
- hug a family member
#5: Vocab Auction
#6: Thanksgiving Bingo
Who doesn’t love a good Bingo game, right? However, to make this activity a bit more educational, I describe the words by giving hints instead of just saying them out loud.
To start, elicit some Thanksgiving words and write them on the board. Or, have a PowerPoint prepared beforehand to save time. Students can fill in their Bingo sheets and then play the game.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 148 Pages - 03/09/2016 (Publication Date)
#7: Thanksgiving Puzzles
Students love doing crossword puzzles! I like to include them in my classes because they can be a really nice change of pace from the usual communicative style of activities that heavily favour extroverts.
You can certainly find ready-made ones online, but I like to make my own with the specific vocabulary that I taught. The best resource for this is here:
#8: ESL Thanksgiving Speaking Lesson
It’s easier than you might think to plan a speaking lesson about almost anything, including this holiday. Have a look at this video for the simple steps to follow:
For a party kind of class, I love a fun game of Pictionary. It’s very similar to charades, but instead of acting out the vocabulary words, students have to draw them. Try out this game, and the results are usually hilarious!
Find out more fun ESL guessing game ideas!
#10: I’m going to bring _____ to Thanksgiving Dinner
I’m sure you’ve played that game before, “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m going to bring_____.” If you say something that fits into the pattern, you can come. If you don’t, then you can’t. I like to play this but change it to Thanksgiving dinner.
For example, students may be able to bring pie but they can’t bring cranberries. Or, they could bring wine but not stuffing. The rule for this one is that it must be four letters or less. Play a number of times with different rules and let students choose some too.
#11: Thanksgiving-Themed Talk Show
This is a fun take on the usual conversation-style activities. Students have to interview their classmates about their experiences with, and opinions about certain topics. In this case, it could be Thanksgiving food, or something else related to this holiday. Find out more here:
#12: Dialogue Substitution
#13: Vocabulary Review Game
This is a simple vocabulary review game that’s ideal for holiday words. The best part is that it requires very little in the way of preparation or materials, so keep this one in your back pocket in case of emergency. Find out more about it here:
#14: Thanksgiving Picture Warmer
It’s often the case that students already know lots of Thanksgiving vocabulary before you explicitly teach them. That’s because they may have seen it mentioned in TV, books or movies or they have done a lesson on it already.
If you suspect that this is the case with your students, then consider using this as a quick warm-up activity. Show students a typical Thanksgiving scene. Maybe a family eating a big turkey dinner. Then, elicit from the students what they see.
This can lead it into any number of other activities in the lesson, including more explicit vocabulary teaching. Doing this exercise first will make new things that the students learn more memorable because you’ve helped to activate their prior knowledge.
#15: Thanksgiving Running Dictation
Try out this engaging ESL activity if you want to make your Thanksgiving lesson at least a little bit educational!
#16: Chain Spelling
This is a simple spelling activity for beginners who are just learning some new vocabulary. All the students stand up and the teacher says a word. For example, “Turkey.” The students take turns spelling it out loud, letter by letter. If someone misses a letter, they sit down and are out of the game. Continue until only one person is left standing.
#17: What Am I? Thanksgiving Guessing Game
#18: History of Thanksgiving
#19: Thanksgiving Trivia General Knowledge Quiz
Thanksgiving ESL Lesson Plans
If you’re a teacher then you already know how much time it can save to use lesson plans that other teachers have made! Here are some of the top ESL Thanksgiving lessons to check out:
ESL Thanksgiving Worksheets
If you’re looking for some fun Thanksgiving ESL worksheets, have a look at some of my favourite options:
ESL Thanksgiving Vocabulary
Here are some of the most common words that you might consider teaching your students for this holiday:
- Black Friday
- native Americans/Canadians
Did you like these Ideas?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 78 Pages - 03/22/2021 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book you can easily find on Amazon: 63 ESL Holiday Games and Activities. The key to better English classes is a wide variety of engaging and interesting TEFL games and activities and this book will help you get there in style.
Have some fun with Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year’s, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and other popular holidays with the activities in this book. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, take the digital version with you to your favourite coffee shop for some lesson planning on the go.
Whatever the case, get ready for some ESL holiday awesome! Pick up a copy today:
FAQs About Thanksgiving for ESL Students
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about teaching Thanksgiving to ESL students.
How do I teach ESL students for Thanksgiving?
One of the best ways to teach Thanksgiving to ESL students is to use games and activities. Try out these fun and educational Thanksgiving activities: Odd One Out, Thanksgiving Charades, Vocab Auction, Thanksgiving Puzzles, Thanksgiving Running Dictation, and Picture Warmer.
What is Thanksgiving for ESL?
When you teach Thanksgiving to ESL students, try explaining it like this! The tradition of Thanksgiving goes back to the 1600s when the Pilgrims first landed in America on a ship called the Mayflower. During the first winter, only half of the Pilgrims survived. The following year, Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to grow crops. When the Pilgrims had a successful harvest the next autumn, they gathered and celebrated. This celebration day has become a tradition; it is now called Thanksgiving.
What are the best Thanksgiving videos for the classroom?
Check out this video for your ESL Thanksgiving lesson. A vocabulary quiz is a great way for students to test their knowledge of new vocabulary.
ESL Thanksgiving Lesson: Join the Conversation
What are your thoughts about these ideas for an ESL Thanksgiving lesson? Do you think these ideas are going to be helpful for your holiday lesson? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2022-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API