Thanksgiving Art and Writing Activities for the Classroom

I love to create imaginative Thanksgiving art and writing activities, to help students celebrate the richness of Fall and Thanksgiving in the classroom or at home. This time of year is perfect for exploring color, shape, abstract patterns, poetry and metaphor!

Here are some of my popular Thanksgiving art and writing activities, perfect for busy upper elementary and middle school teachers who want low-prep art lessons in the classroom.

Read on too, for some fun facts about Thanksgiving that you might find interesting to share with your students, alongside these art activities.

1. Create Beautiful Leafy Doodles, Poetry and Thankful Writing Prompts

Bring all the fun and color of Fall and Thanksgiving into your classroom. Students respond really enthusiastically to these leafy doodle coloring pages and ‘I am thankful for’ writing prompts.
These easy-to-use templates encourage students to explore color and pattern, and to expand their descriptive vocabulary by creating seasonal poetry. The watercolor and marker pen doodle leaves make beautiful frames for written work and bulletin boards.

2. Make a Ball All About Fall!

This soccer ball inspired resource, with a mix of doodle and writing prompts can help to engage students who may be fearful of expressing themselves creatively or those who are reluctant to write.

3. Thanksgiving Turkey Coloring and Thankful Writing Task

These eye-catching, abstract turkey art and writing templates are fun to do and really challenge students to think about color and shape.

Encourage students to experiment and explore their sense of color, using marker pens, oil pastels, colored pencils or watercolor paints.

The objective is to see if the cheeky turkey stands out from the background when the activity is finished.

4. Free Fall Art Activity – Fun Pop Art Acorns!

Transition into fall with this engaging Pop Art inspired acorn fall art activity. The finished abstract acorn coloring pages make a wonderful display in your classroom.

Read on, for some interesting Thanksgiving facts

You can use these Thanksgiving facts as starting points for group discussions around family, food, celebrations, culture and traditions, turkeys and history.

Thanksgiving and Family

  • Thanksgiving is the busiest ‘travel’ day of the year in America. Family and friends move across the country to be with loved ones, to celebrate the day together.  
  • Breaking the turkey’s wishbone and making a wish is used by some families as part of their celebrations.
  • Some families decorate their homes with a fall wreath and fresh or dried flowers.

Thanksgiving and Food

  • Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cornbread, cranberry sauce, and pies filled with pumpkin, pecan, or apple are all traditional foods eaten at a Thanksgiving feast.
  • Turkey is native to North America.
  • Often families will prepare the food for Thanksgiving Day together as part of the preparations.

Thanksgiving and Celebrations

  • In 1896, in Buffalo, New York, the first Turkey Trot race (8km) took place on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Since 1924, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has showcased itself in New York and its’ infamous floats and balloons have been a staple feature since 1927. 
  • Watching an American Football Match on Thanksgiving Day is a popular activity for the family to do together.
  • Some people like to give back on Thanksgiving Day by donating food or funds and/or volunteering at a food bank or local soup kitchen to help those less fortunate.

Thanksgiving, Culture, and Tradition

  • Thanksgiving Day was originally a day to give thanks to The Almighty for the harvest and other blessings received from the last year – it was associated with religion.
  • Thanksgiving Day is still very much a day of expressing our gratitude for such things as close friends and family, good health, opportunities, or even a good harvest. 
  • Since 1989, the president has pardoned a hand-selected Turkey on Thanksgiving Day to live out its life on a farm.
  • The colors associated with Thanksgiving Day are orange, yellow, brown, green, and red – similar to the colors of foods served up at the Day’s feast, yellow like corn and red like cranberries.

Thanksgiving and Turkeys

  • The world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as turkeys is 661 (in 2011), at a turkey trot in Dallas, Texas.
  • There are four towns named ‘Turkey’ in the U.S. – In Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina & Texas.
  • Only male turkeys gobble – they do so to attract female turkeys during the breeding season.
  • Canadians celebrate their own Thanksgiving every October.

Thanksgiving History

  • In 1621, a three-day feast between 50 Mayflower Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony, Mass., and 90 Wampanoag Native Americans is considered as the first Thanksgiving Day.
  • In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation for November 26 to be a national day of thanksgiving.
  • In 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the nation should recognize the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.
  • In 1870, Congress passed legislation making Thanksgiving a national holiday, allowing the president to choose the actual day. 
  • Between 1939 and 1941 Thanksgiving Day was moved to the penultimate Thursday in November, for commercial reasons, by Franklin Roosevelt – this change was not well received.
  • From 1942 onwards Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated on the Fourth Thursday in November. 

20 Thanksgiving Words for the Classroom


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