Are you looking for some of the best Thanksgiving ESL activities and games, along with lesson plans, worksheets, vocabulary lists and more? Then you’re certainly in the right place. Keep on reading for all the details you need to know.
Thanksgiving ESL Activities
Without further ado, let’s get to the Thanksgiving and fall activities and games!
#1: What are you Thankful For?
This is a classic Thanksgiving activity, not just for English learners but for anyone. It’s always nice to think about things we’re thankful for so have a discussion with your students about it, get them to talk with a partner for a few minutes, or have them do a writing exercise.
#2: Thanksgiving Idiom Activity
There are lots of English idioms related to Thanksgiving. Some examples are:
- Cold turkey
- Gobble up
- The gravy train
- Easy as pie
- Eat like a bird
Check out one of my favourite activities for idioms here. It’s fun, interesting and also memorable:
Try out this fun ESL Thanksgiving activity with your students.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 78 Pages - 03/22/2021 (Publication Date)
#3: A to Z Thanksgiving ESL Game
Unless your students are absolute beginners, it’s likely that they already know some Thanksgiving vocabulary before you teach them it. If that’s the case, consider using this quick warm-up activity to help activate your students’ prior knowledge. Or, consider using it for a review activity at the end of your lesson.
More details here: A to Z Alphabet Game.
Try out this challenging multi-skill ESL activity with your more advanced students. The way it works is that you have to find or write a little story about Thanksgiving. I’ve talked about my family traditions before. Then, read it out but at a faster rate than normal.
Then, students have to work together to recreate what they just heard. Read it again and students do the same thing. Finally, they can compare their version with the original. Want to try it out? You can get all the information here about one of the best ESL Thanksgiving activities for adults:
#5: Thanksgiving Listening Comprehension
I always like to include some dedicated listening activities in my conversation classes. After all, a conversation is half listening but all too often we just focus on speaking! It’s easy to find listening passages online or in ESL textbooks. However, YouTube is another great resource.
Here’s one example of a Thanksgiving listening passage you could consider using in your classes. There are a bunch of listening activities to consider doing along with it.
#6: 3 Things ESL Writing Activity
If you want to do a quick and easy ESL writing activity related to Thanksgiving, then consider 3 things. When used as a general activity, students can choose any three things. However, you can also choose a theme such as this one and require that students choose words related to Thanksgiving vocabulary. Find out all the details here:
3 Things Writing Activity for ESL.
#7: ESL Thanksgiving Survey
Do you teach in a country where they celebrate Thanksgiving or have a similar holiday? Yes? Then you’ll want to consider doing a survey. I love them because they cover a range of skills and also that they require students to get up out of their seats and talk to their classmates. It’s also reasonably quick and easy to make your own. Here are some tips:
#8: Thanksgiving Food Activities
For most people, Thanksgiving is ALL about the food. That’s why these ESL food games and activities lend themselves particularly well to Thanksgiving lessons. If you want to see some of our top picks, then have a look right here:
#9: Dialogue Substitution
New words are often introduced through a dialogue of some kind. However, they’re often too easy for my students. Here’s how I pump up the difficulty level and turn it into a meaning-focused activity as well:
#10: Opinion Games and Activities
Holidays are one of those things that people certainly have some strong opinions about. How they should be spent, what traditions are most important, what you should eat, etc. The good news is that there are lots of interesting, engaging and fun activities for this. Check them out here:
ESL Opinion Activities and Games.
#11: Proofreading and Editing
If you want to slip some serious learning into your Thanksgiving lesson, then you’ll want to consider doing this activity. It’s simple enough—find a reading passage related to Thanksgiving and then make some errors. The kind and number of errors strongly depend on your students and what you’ve been teaching them in class but they could include some of the following:
- Capital letters
- Subject-verb agreement
- Word order
- Wrong word choices
Find out more about this simple ESL Thanksgiving activity here: ESL Proof Reading and Editing Activity.
#12: Thanksgiving Listening Lesson
It’s quite easy to plan a TEFL listening lesson based on any topic, including this holiday. Find a conversation between two people talking about their plans. Or, somebody talking about a fun memory from Thanksgiving (it could even be you). Then, design a fun listening lesson around that. Here are the steps to follow:
#13: Thanksgiving ESL Songs
I love to use songs and chants when teaching young learners. My favourite thing is that I’ll catch many of them singing the song days later outside of class! When this happens, I consider it a job well done. Have a look on YouTube for lots of great options.
#14: Thanksgiving Reading Comprehension Lesson
It’s easy to base an entire lesson around a reading passage. And there are certainly lots of them out there at a variety of levels for Thanksgiving. Here are some tips and a template you can use to plan this style of English lesson:
How to Teach an ESL Reading Lesson.
#15: Concentration Vocabulary Game
A fun way to help students remember new words related to Thanksgiving is to play concentration. For beginners, use a vocabulary word and then a corresponding card with the picture. More advanced learners can handle words and definitions.
Then, students have to find the matching pairs using their memory skills. Check out this challenging game here:
#16: Odd One Out
A fun review or warm-up game is odd one out. In this case, choose some sets of words related to Thanksgiving. For example:
- Turkey, stuffing, pilgrim, gravy
Students have to choose the one that doesn’t fit and say why. In this case, they’d likely say pilgrim because it’s not food. However, I accept any answer as long as students support it well. Find out more here about one of my favourite Thanksgiving activities for ESL students:
#17: Word Challenge Spelling Activity
Spelling is an important but often neglected skill in ESL classrooms. One fun way to practice it is to use this word challenge game that requires only the use of a whiteboard and a couple of markets. Of course, you’ll want to focus this one on Thanksgiving vocabulary. Learn more about it here:
#18: Word Association Thanksgiving ESL Activity
Unless your students are absolute beginners, it’s likely that they know some words and phrases associated with Thanksgiving or any other holiday for that matter, including Juneteenth. A nice way to activate this prior knowledge is to use Word Association.
It’s basically getting your students to make a mind map with categories of words. For example, food, traditions, activities, etc. Find out more details here:
Word Association ESL Vocabulary Activity.
#19: I’m an Alien
It’s likely that students already know a fair bit about this popular holiday before you explicitly teach them. If that’s the case, consider using this fun warm-up activity:
#20: Thanksgiving Themed Dictation Practice
Dictation has fallen out of favour with the more communicative style of language teaching these days, but it still certainly has value and is a worthwhile use of class time once in a while.
Find a passage that hits the target vocabulary and grammar that you’ve recently taught. Then, read it to your students who have to write down what they hear. Besides vocab and grammar, students also have to focus on spelling and punctuation. Learn more here:
#21: Me Too!
A quick warm-up activity for a lesson on Thanksgiving is Me Too! The way it works is that students have to make a true statement about themselves related to a theme. In this case, you may want to limit it to holiday traditions.
Then, if another student does the same thing, they say Me Too! and stand up. Try out one of the best Thanksgiving activities for ESL students.
#22: 3 Things Writing Activity
To use this activity, require that the 3 things students choose be related to Thanksgiving!
#23: Turkey Dinner Potluck
If you teach adults and it’s feasible, consider having a potluck party. I generally prepare the turkey myself and then get students to bring all the side dishes. They can do research to learn about what generally is eaten with a Thanksgiving meal in Canada or the USA.
This is certainly one of the best ESL Thanksgiving activities for adults.
#24: Turkey Bowling
This is a hilarious game that should be done with bowling pins and a frozen turkey! I’m sure you can picture the results.
However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be done with an actual turkey. Find an irregularly-shaped item and decorate it as a turkey. Then, play a few rounds of random bowling. It’s some pure excitement and fun. Of course, show some YouTube videos of the actual game so that students can understand what’s going on.
#25: Touch Football
What goes better with American Thanksgiving than football? If it’s feasible, consider teaching students some football rules and a few basic plays. Then, get outside and play!
#26: What Am I? Thanksgiving Guessing Game Online
#27: Thanksgiving Vocabulary Bingo
Create Bingo cards with Thanksgiving-related vocabulary words such as “turkey,” “pumpkin,” “cornucopia,” etc. Call out definitions or describe the words, and students mark the corresponding words on their Bingo cards.
#28: Thanksgiving Story Chain
Start a Thanksgiving-themed story with a sentence or two. Each student adds a sentence to the story, building on what the previous student said. Encourage creativity and imagination as the story unfolds.
#29: Gratitude Circle
Have students sit in a circle and take turns sharing something they are grateful for. Encourage them to use complete sentences and explain why they are grateful for that particular thing or person.
#30: Learn About the History of Thanksgiving
ESL Thanksgiving Worksheets
Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? It can be a real time saver to just print something off and then just use it in class. There are a ton of excellent Thanksgiving ESL worksheets to use. Here are some of the best resources:
ESL Thanksgiving Lesson Plans
There are also a number of ready-to-go ESL Thanksgiving lessons that you might want to consider using. Check out some of our recommendations here:
Or, plan your own!
Thanksgiving ESL Vocabulary
Here are some of the most common words related to Thanksgiving to consider teaching your students:
- sweet potato
Try out this Thanksgiving vocabulary trivia activity with your students!
Did you try it out? Leave a comment on the video and let me know how many correct answers your students got.
FAQs About Thanksgiving ESL Lessons
There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching an ESL Thanksgiving lesson. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
How do I teach ESL students for Thanksgiving?
To teach ESL students for Thanksgiving, you can do the following. Set the context by having students talk about a fall celebration in their country. Then, teach some Thanksgiving vocab through a reading or listening lesson. Then, do some activities related to Thanksgiving or play a fun game.
What is Thanksgiving for ESL students?
A way to describe Thanksgiving for ESL students is this: It’s a Canadian and American holiday in the fall that celebrates the harvest. People get together with family and eat Turkey and all the side dishes, as well as give thanks for what they have in their lives.
What is Black Friday ESL?
Black Friday for ESL students is the day after American Thanksgiving. It’s generally considered to be the biggest shopping day of the year and you can find some great sales in stores and online.
Did you like these Thanksgiving ESL Games and Activities?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 134 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to want to check out this book over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Kids. The key to better English classes is a variety of games and activities and this book will help you do that in style.
There are dozens of student-centred, engaging and fun activities to try out with your students. You’ll be able to make it through an entire semester by doing a different activity every single day. It really is that easy to have better English classes with kids.
Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, consider taking it with you to your favourite coffee shop on your phone, laptop or tablet for some lesson planning on the go.
Either way, it’s a serious dose of ESL teaching awesome. Check out the book for yourself, but only if you want to level up your teaching!
Thanksgiving ESL Activities: Join the Conversation
What’s your favourite Thanksgiving activity or lesson plan idea to do with your students? 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 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API