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Tasty Thanksgiving Lesson Plans for 1st Grade

thanksgiving prompts for first gradeThere’s no feast quite like a Thanksgiving dinner. The mere mention of it conjures up vivid memories: the sweet flavor of a deep red cranberry sauce; a savory spoonful of stuffing melting on your tongue; the warm, homey smell of fresh-baked bread as it’s pulled out of the oven and set beside the stove to cool. And of course, at the heart of it all, a big, beautiful turkey, crisp-skinned and roasted to perfection, sitting in the middle of the dining room table.

Aside from making our stomachs rumble, such rich imagery makes Thanksgiving fantastic fodder for creative work in a 1st-grade classroom. It’s perfect for working on descriptive exercises and building vocabulary. But don’t just stick to the same old vocab lists your students probably saw last Thanksgiving—get their creative juices flowing with some truly imaginative Thanksgiving lesson plans and project ideas that will get their gears turning and their mouths watering.

Lesson Plan #1: Attending the First Thanksgiving

have your first grade students play pilgrimsYour 1st-grade students are blessed with being young enough to still thoroughly love playing make-believe. Redirect that creative energy to their writing with a twist on a classic writing prompt. Instead of asking them simply to list what was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving feast, ask them to pretend that they are pilgrims who have just attended that very occasion. Their task now is to write a letter home to their family in England describing what it was like.

Encourage them to think not just about the food they ate, but other details like the weather, who they ate with, what they talked about. To help spark their imaginations, you can use framed paragraphs or other simple writing strategies to guide their writing—for example, assigning one topic to describe per paragraph.


Turn this writing assignment into a historical fiction project by asking your students make up pilgrim personas. Pair this assignment with a history lesson or two—perhaps even include a few simplified excerpts from actual letters from Plymouth Rock—to help them get even more into character. Once their letters are complete, ask them to provide an illustration to match, either of the dinner itself or of themselves as pilgrims. Make pilgrim hats out of construction paper and take a class photo together—then use that picture on the front of a professionally published classbook featuring their letters and drawings!


Lesson Plan #2: The Ideal Mealcreate a thanksgiving meal

Kids rarely get to choose what they have for dinner, which makes this Thanksgiving lesson plan particularly mouth-watering. Provide your students with a list of foods and drinks to choose from. Assign each item on the list a number of how many people it can feed—for instance, a turkey might feed a dozen people, while a cob of corn would only feed one.

Give your students a worksheet with four categories—main dish, side dishes, desserts and drinks—and ask them to pick at least one of each from the list. Provide them with the number of students there are in the class and ask them to choose just enough food in each category to feed the entire class; they can repeat choices, such as buying two turkeys to feed a larger class, but they cannot buy in excess, such as buying two turkeys and a ham to feed a class of 13.


Once they’ve finished the list exercise, supply your students with cut out clipart images of the foods from the list to color and glue onto paper plates, using only the foods they’ve included in their menus. Take photos or scans of their individual meals. Then, push the desks together, grab a tablecloth, and lay all of the plates out like a real feast. Take a class photo together of everyone enjoying their pretend meal, and have a class discussion about the foods they chose and why. Finally, collect the pictures of their food and publish your students’ work as one big Thanksgiving meal planning book, using the class photo as a brilliant cover image.

Lesson Plan #3: Sharing Homemade Recipes

family traditions for thanksgiving first gradersThis Thanksgiving lesson plan involves a bit of homework. Ask your 1st-graders to ask their parents, grandparents or whoever else in their family who cooks to share and help them copy out a favorite Thanksgiving recipe. (If their family does not particularly celebrate or cook for Thanksgiving, they can use an everyday favorite instead.)

Ask them to then describe that food to someone who has never tasted anything like it before. How would you describe the flavor of green bean casserole to someone who has never heard of green beans, or the glow of yellow corn to someone who is blind? Finally, ask them to share their recipes and descriptions. The more detail they provide, the better!


Ask your students to draw and color a picture of their chosen meal item and/or its ingredients. Combine the pictures, recipes, and descriptions together into a professionally bound, published cookbook that shares beloved recipes with each child’s family. Ideally, time it so that your class’s cookbook arrives before Thanksgiving, and give them out to the families as gifts of the season!

delivery for thanksgiving classbooks


Adding Flavor to Your Thanksgiving Lesson Plans

Whether they’re pilgrims at the original Thanksgiving dinner or meal planners creating menus and sharing recipes, your students are, first and foremost, kids who love to play. Make lesson plans feel less like work and more like play with writing prompts and activities that let their creativity shine. You may not be able to have a real Thanksgiving feast right in the middle of your classroom, but you can still feed your 1st-grade students’ imaginations by giving them truly inspired assignments to sink their teeth into this November.

For more free teaching resources and tasty brain food, be sure to check out our online teacher’s lounge, and sign up today for your free publishing kit!


Image sources: Lead Image Source via Pexels user Pixabay; Images 1, 2, 3 via, image 4 via Studentreasures



At Studentreasures, we believe every student should experience the joy and accomplishment of becoming a published author. Our blog’s aim is to provide teachers with the resources, ideas, and inspiration to make that happen. Happy writing!

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