Holidays, Inquiry-Based, STEAM

Thanksgiving in Upper Elementary

Living on the east coast, we get hit with several hurricane evacuations each year where school is cancelled. This year, the make-up days were added to our Thanksgiving week (Monday and Tuesday). Since I knew several students would be out, I planned academic activities around the holiday because I didn’t want to introduce any new material. If you are looking for some fun ideas, borrow and steal away:


MathThanksgiving Dinner Digits 
This activity is great for practicing math skills. Students will invite family, figure out how many pounds of turkey they’ll need, determine when to start thawing their bird, and calculate food costs. (I would use the differentiated pages next time, since my students had a hard time multiplying decimals.) You can even set the table with placemats and napkins to set the mood.

ReadingBalloons Over Broadway 
Second graders were working on map skills at our school, so I invited them to join us for this cute read aloud. We then mapped the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route, and completed this STEM activity to make balloon floats from balloons.  Parade route was a free download from The Star Spangled Planner. These activities were by far, my favorite all week, and I am thankful for my room mom who came in to help blow up all the balloons.

Science – We completed the digital breakout Turkey Trot. My fourth graders thought this was hard at first, but finally got the hang of it and six of seven groups “escaped” in the 30 minute time frame.

Social Studies – We watched “Animated Hero Classics: William Bradford – The First Thanksgiving”.  We watched this on Discovery Ed Streaming videos but it is also available on YouTube if you do not have a subscription.


Math – We continued with our Thanksgiving Dinner Digits activity from above.

Reading – I assigned six Thanksgiving related NewsELA articles and the students had to pick two that were of interest to them to read and take the quizzes on. Then, we read this article on the Quill Pen and practiced cursive penmanship with D’Nealian paper and magic markers. I played the YouTube fireplace video to set the mood.

Science – We read articles about the Mayflower and completed another STEM activity. Students had to design a ship that will hold as many Pilgrims (pennies) as possible without sinking using a piece of aluminum foil. This book helps!

Social Studies – We watched “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and I baked cookies for my class. Finally, we made thankful turkeys with our kindergarten buddies. Leave a comment with your favorite Thanksgiving activities for upper elementary students!