Planning a Classroom Thanksgiving Feast

There are many types of Thanksgiving Feasts that take place in elementary schools throughout the United States. It can be a hands-on way to learn about the history behind the holiday, an opportunity to promote community and parent involvement, or a fun way to encourage your students to work together to accomplish a common goal.

There are many types of Thanksgiving Feasts that take place in elementary schools throughout the United States. It can be a hands-on way to learn about the history behind the holiday, an opportunity to promote community and parent involvement, or a fun way to encourage your students to work together to accomplish a common goal.

As with most things in life, there are different opinions on what a “feast” should look like. Every version has pros and cons but the key to success is organization! I’m going to share some things to consider when planning your feast to help make it a successful event.


VOLUNTEERS

Think about how you might involve others to limit your investment of time and expense. Some parents love to help with decorating or serving while other are happy to donate materials or food. You can send out a little form to assess interest and then assign things based on the responses.


INVITATIONS

This is a great time to do a mini lesson with your students teaching them “How to Write an invitation”. You might want to invite parents or grandparents or you could invite another class to join you. If you’re thinking you’d like to invite another class, arrange with that teacher beforehand to be sure they will attend. You may want to have one class come as pilgrims and the other Native Americans by creating headbands and pilgrim bonnets or hats. Using fall colored construction paper and cutting out holiday shapes (turkeys, pumpkins, pilgrim hats, etc.) makes for a simple and cute invite. If you are inviting family members, plan to send at least two weeks in advance.



DECORATIONS

Start with fall colored butcher paper which brightens your table and helps cut down on clean-up. Add center pieces. They don’t have to be crafty; a variety or tiny pumpkin and squash are a great if you’re looking for quick and easy. Think of ways your students can help; teach them to weave place mats or have them make place cards. Let the kids each write something they are thankful for on a colored paper leaves and scatter them down the middle of the table. If you have enough volunteers, it is good to have at least two in charge of setting up tables the day of your feast.

Welcome guests with a special Thanksgiving door or bulletin board.


Let students help create table decorations.


THE FEAST

Some teachers go all out here and try to serve foods the actual pilgrims might have eaten at the first Thanksgiving. If you have the energy and resources, that is amazing! Another option is to go with some easier, kid friendly foods: turkey sandwiches or if you have parents helping with the food you can have them use cookie cutters to cut turkey shaped cheese to serve with crackers or crescent rolls, which cut in half resemble cornucopias. Fresh fruit and veggie trays can be requested from those parents wanting to contribute but unable to attend, or make each child a pumpkin using clementines or tangerines with small pieces of celery for the stems. Pumpkin muffins have always been a favorite at my feasts and I like to serve warm apple cider (add a couple crockpots to your donations list if you’re doing this one).


ENTERTAINMENT

If you’ve invited family members, they love to see they’re little ones perform. Plan for them to sing a song, recite a poem, or act out a Thanksgiving skit. If you are sharing your feast with another class, choose a Thanksgiving picture book to read, a game to play, or a movie to watch, like “The Mouse on the Mayflower”. My two favorite Thanksgiving read alouds are A Turkey for Thanksgiving and Turkey Trouble.



Whatever you choose to do, enjoy making it a special day to share with your students!



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