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Preschool Lesson Plan Ideas for Thanksgiving

by Sara Ipatenco, studioD

Thanksgiving is a holiday that encourages people to be grateful for all their blessings. While it's easy for adults to rattle off a list of all the things they are thankful for, gratefulness is a more difficult concept for preschoolers to fully grasp. In addition to teaching children how to identify and be thankful for what they have, use the Thanksgiving holiday as a way to also teach preschoolers some classic American history.

Give each student a large piece of white paper and a few magazines. Ask the preschoolers to page through the magazines and cut out pictures of things they are thankful for, such as food, toys and animals, and glue them to the paper. Allow each child to share his finished collage with the class. This activity teaches students how to identify the blessings in their life so they can express their gratitude.

Teach preschoolers about foods that might appear on their Thanksgiving table. Examples include turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Invite the preschoolers to describe their Thanksgiving meals. Then show the students pictures of foods that appeared on the table at the first Thanksgiving, such as ducks, fish, pumpkins, squash, onions and corn. Ask the students to compare the two menus, which will help them learn to identify similarities and differences.

Plant corn seeds with the preschoolers. Place potting soil in small disposable cups, and let each preschool poke a hole in the dirt and plant a corn seed. As you plant the corn seeds, talk about how Squanto helped teach the pilgrims how to plant corn and other crops to eat. Not only will the students learn more about the Native Americans and the pilgrims but they will also be introduced to the scientific concepts associated with planting and growing seeds.

Make turkeys. Teach students to turn their handprint into a turkey by coloring the fingers to be feathers and the palm to be the turkey body. You might also give each preschooler a turkey body that you've traced and cut out of brown construction paper. Give the students colored paper or craft feathers and googly eyes, and let them finish the turkey. As the students work, you can teach them the different body parts of the turkey, including the body, feathers, feet, wings and wattle.

Teach counting skills with a Thanksgiving food craft. Give each preschooler five pictures of a pumpkin pie. Help them write the numbers one through five, with one number on each pie. Pass out small pumpkin shaped cutouts, and ask the preschoolers to glue the right number of pumpkins to the pie, so the pie with the number one has one pumpkin, and so on. Reinforce the counting concept by circling around the room asking preschoolers to show you their counting skills as they work.

Items you will need
  •  Large pieces of white paper
  •  Age-appropriate magazines
  •  Scissors
  •  Glue
  •  Pictures of Thanksgiving foods from past and present
  •  Disposable cups
  •  Potting soil
  •  Corn seeds
  •  Colored construction paper
  •  Craft feathers
  •  Googly eyes
  •  Pictures of pumpkin pie
  •  Small pumpkin cutouts, 15 for each student

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images