A few weeks ago it hit me that this Thanksgiving was going to be the first one away from home.  Thanksgiving is a very special holiday for my family and I.  It is a time to come together in laughter, joy, smiles, and thanks with your family.  I was thinking to myself… I need to make this Thanksgiving one to remember.  Since I am South Africa and Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I know my boys knew nothing about the holiday.  I talked with my cooperating teacher and asked if I could plan a special Thanksgiving lesson with the class.  She approved of my request and was very eager to see the result!  That being said I have been looking forward to this lesson for a few weeks and it finally arrived!  The way that I taught Thanksgiving was in 2 days.  On the first day (yesterday) I introduced the holiday and on the second day we celebrated Thanksgiving!

Day One:  

What is Thanksgiving?

Before getting to the fun part of the lesson (I think it is all fun! :p), I needed to give the class a basic understanding of Thanksgiving.  I was looking for various materials that contained formative information on the holiday.  I don’t get to read to the class often, so I decided to explore the school library.  I came across and excellent book titled, Highdays and Holidays.  Although it only had a little over a page of information on Thanksgiving, it did the job!  In the matter of a page, it was able to cover the common traditions and detailed background knowledge on what the holiday is and how it came about.

Highdays and Holidays

To make it a little more exciting for my kiddos, I showed them a video.  Along with the video was an assignment that I created for them to assess what they learned about Thanksgiving!  The video is titled, “The First Thanksgiving!”  Click here to view the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh_0t4EcsjE  In under 5 minutes the class learned the who, what, when, where, and how about Thanksgiving.  It just so happened that /wh/ was the digraph for the week and who, what, when, where, and how was also on the agenda for the week.  I was very ecstatic because the video fit perfectly with both the digraph and the 5 W’s.  Once the video was finished I had the class complete a worksheet on the video.  The worksheet consisted of the 5 W’s mentioned throughout the video.  I was very impressed with all of the detailed responses from each student.

Click here to view the worksheet: 5 W’s Worksheet

5 W's Worksheet!

5 W’s Worksheet!

Gobble Gobble!

I don’t know about you but when I hear Thanksgiving, the first thing that comes to mind is TURKEY.  I’m not sure if it’s because they are so delicious or how silly of a bird they are.  To start off the activity I sang a fun turkey song with the class.  It was a song that I used to sing as a young boy and it has stuck with me ever since.  Do you think you can guess the song?  Here’s a hint: Gobble gobble gobble!!

Turkey Song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIUrxo2P5C0  (This version is a little slower then what I remember but my students loved it.  We went faster as the song went on and added in some fancy turkey moves!  My kiddos are just so silly!  I love it!

After singing the song, I taught the class a little bit about the importance of the turkey on Thanksgiving.  Our conversation then led to fun turkey activities.

First Activity:  If I were a TURKEY…

I wonder what it is like to be a turkey?  Well, my first graders can tell you what it’d be like if they were a turkey!  This activity is a creative writing piece that I had each student complete.  It did an excellent job of promoting their creativity.  The amount of words, sentences, and correct punctuation I received from each student was outstanding!  I was very proud of them!  🙂

If I were a Turkey...

WOW! Look at all of the detail in this writing!

My Thankful Turkey!

How do you make a turkey?  We made our own turkey using our hand!  Once again, this was one of my favorite holiday crafts as a child.  It is a very easy and fun activity.  Each student traced their hand on brown construction paper and selected four colored feathers for their turkey.  The instructions were to glue the feathers on the turkey and write four things they are thankful for on either the feathers or each individual finger (not thumb).  Super simple craft that captured their attention for quite some time!

I've been spelling my name wrong this whole time..... :p

I’ve been spelling my name wrong this whole time….. :p

Thankful Turkey Hand!!

Yesterday was a wonderful and extremely productive day in first grade!  The best part was that my kiddos thought we were done learning about Thanksgiving.  They had no idea what was in store for them today on Thanksgiving!

Day Two:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let the festivities begin!  The Wynberg Boys Junior School had 24 visitors that came over on the Mayflower to say hello on this special holiday.  These visitors are also known as pilgrims!  I topped off the day with a paper pilgrim hat craft!

Pilgrim Hat


The only necessary item for this activity was black, yellow, and white construction paper.

  • Black hat
  • Yellow buckle
  • White strap
  • Long black strap

I explained to the students what we were going to make.  I created a pilgrim hat to show them and for them to use as a guide when making their own.  Once each student glued all of the pieces on their pilgrim hat, I attached a long black strap.  I stapled the long black strap to the hat and taped it to fit all of my student’s head.

Pilgrim Hat!

Pilgrim Hat!

Place Mat 

Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with tons and tons of food.  In order to eat the food, it is important to know what you will need to eat the food and where it belong on the table (place mat).

Last year right before Thanksgiving break a professor that I had celebrated Thanksgiving with us.  The professor had us all make our own place mat.  On the place mat we had to find the correct order for our utensils, plate, napkin, and cup.  Once we found a place for all of your items we had to write one thing we were thankful for.  When we were finished we went around the classroom and shared what we were thankful for.  I loved this activity and I was really inspired to use it in my classroom one day.  Due to the fact that I am in another country and they are not familiar with this holiday, I took advantage of this activity and opportunity.

I created a PowerPoint that I used as a guidance when teaching the class how to set up a place mat.

Check it out!  Place Mat PowerPoint

After teaching my student’s how to set up a place mat, it was time to do it on their own!  I provided each student with a long blank piece of construction paper.  Each student was responsible for placing each item in the correct order on the place mat.  I told the class to color each individual item its own color.  (This is so they did not get confused)  When the order was checked by me they were told to write one thing they are thankful.  (I had them write it in the center of the plate so it was easy to find!)

Place Mat!

Teaching p

Teaching place mats!

Place Mat

Place Mat!

Thanksgiving Feast!

The table is set and we are ready for our feast!  I passed out a plate, cup, napkin, and utensils to my class.  They did so well matching each item to the illustrations they created on their individual place mats.  Little did they know that food was on its way.  Since Mr. Guignet adores his first grade class he wanted to spoil them with a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Meal:

  • Turkey
    • Potatoes, Onions, Carrots, and Rosemary
  • Gravy
  • Stuffing
  • Sweetcorn
  • Apple Juice
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Special Ingredient
    • One of my students told me that I used a special ingredient in my food.  He told me that it is love.  He was 100% correct!

Before eating our meal I explained to them exactly how Thanksgiving is done with my family.  I had my class hold hands with both of the students next to them.  We went around the table and said one thing we are thankful for.  Once we were done I said a prayer to the class before we ate our scrumptious meal!!  The class LOVED the feast!  It was a huge success!  This is definitely a Thanksgiving that I will remember forever.


Scooping out turkey for my class!

Scooping out turkey for my class!

Check out our table arrangement! They loved the set up! Too bad it’s already changed back to regular seating!! :p

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a classic Thanksgiving movie!  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a hit movie for young children to watch on Thanksgiving!  It is hilarious and teaches children the importance of being thankful.

I was able to find the movie on YouTube.  Here is the link!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ961y0VKEk

As Thanksgiving is slowly coming to an end, I want to say how thankful I am for my experience and for having such an amazing support system.  I have learned so much on my journey in a matter of weeks.  These next two weeks better go by very SLOW.  I don’t want to leave my schools and this spectacular country.  I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving!  I was able to FaceTime with both sides of my family today.  It wasn’t the same as being home with them, but it was as good as it’s going to get!  Have a wonderful rest of your holiday everyone!  Thank you for reading!

Gobble Gobble!

Mr. Guignet


One thought on “HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Gobble Gobble!

  1. Johnny, Your blogs about life in Cape Town have been very interesting. I am sure you have mixed feelings about leaving South Africa but I am sure, too, that you will never forget these weeks there. Africa will always be a part of your life from now on! Have a good trip home next week.

    Lois Burmeister


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