Thanksgiving Classroom Activities for Holiday Fun Kids Love

the Funky Turkey Printable
Jeanne Sager

Written by Jeanne Sager

Thanksgiving is almost here, and the students in your class are already buzzing about the stuffing and mashed potatoes aren’t they? Tired of Pilgrim hats and hand turkeys? Maybe you’re looking for Thanksgiving classroom activities that are a little bit different for your elementary students this year?

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We’ve got you covered with Thanksgiving projects for elementary students that are fun and can also fit right into the educational lessons you’re working on right now!

Thanksgiving Projects For Elementary Students

Thanksgiving Activities for the Classroom - Thanksgiving Tree

Don’t get us wrong: Hand turkeys are a lot of fun, and we love a good craft activity for the classroom (see below for some of our favorites)!

But before we dig into turkeys and thankful trees, teaching the important history and traditions of Thanksgiving is also critical. It helps your students learn historical empathy, as well as developing their social and emotional learning around gratitude and thankfulness.

As a class, you might want to discuss:

  • Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving?
  • Which Thanksgiving traditions have been added and changed over time?
  • What other viewpoints might there be about Thanksgiving?

Get the conversation going in your classroom before diving into some fun Thanksgiving crafts, literacy center activities, and more ways to celebrate the November holiday at school.

Thanksgiving Activities for the Classroom - Thanksgiving Paper Roll Turkeys

Paper Roll Turkey Craft

Grab those toilet paper tubes and construction paper. It’s time to talk turkey! Turkey crafts, that is …



  • A selection of Thanksgiving/Fall colored construction paper or cardstock
  • Paper roll holder (we used a paper towel roll cut in half for our two turkeys, but you can also use toilet paper rolls!)
  • Stapler
  • Glue stick
  • Googly eyes

How to make the Paper Roll Turkey

This one is super simple!

  1. Draw the shape of two large double-pointed ovals and two small double-pointed ovals. You may like to pre-print these onto the paper for your class.
  2. Cut out the shapes for each piece of colored paper.
  3. Creating a pattern, overlap each shape, and paste together in an arc shape to create tail feathers.
  4. Staple your tail feathers to your paper roll.
  5. Cut a tiny triangle for a beak and two little feet.
  6. Paste your beak, feet, and eyes onto your paper roll. Fold the feet so that your turkey can stand up.

Why not staple these turkeys to your Thanksgiving bulletin boards for a cute Thanksgiving display?

Funky Turkey

Another twist on the old turkey craft is this free funky turkey printable! Not only is this a fun Thanksgiving classroom activity, but your students can practice drawing different patterns and do some mindful coloring to destress.

the Funky Turkey Printable

Cut out the template and paste it onto a colored piece of cardstock or construction paper. Choose your funky glasses – color and attach!

Create a Thankful Tree

To help your students appreciate all that they have to be thankful for, create a class Thankful Tree with all the things that the kids are thankful for this year.

Thanksgiving Activities - Thankful Tree

How to create a Thankful Tree:

  1. Create a tree trunk using paper on a display wall or bulletin board. Alternatively, you could use a real tree branch standing up in a pot.
  2. Provide students with one or more of the leaves for them to write about something they are thankful for.
  3. Stick the leaves onto the ‘Thankful Tree’ wall display, or hang them up on the real branches using a hole-punch and string.
  4. Students may also like to add photographs and pictures to the Thankful Tree display.

To make things easy, we created a Thanksgiving Thankful Tree Leaves Template.

Thankful Turkeys

thankful turkey template for kids

Instead of a thankful tree, you can stick with turkeys for this social-emotional lesson too. Have kids write out what they’re thankful for this year on the feathers of their turkey!

Thankful Acrostic Poems

Take thankful Thanksgiving activities one step further and make them a chance to practice poetry!

Have your students make “Thankful” acrostics, writing out something they are thankful for that starts with each letter of the word.

Thanksgiving Activities for the Classroom - Thanksgiving Writing Activities

For more Thanksgiving writing practice, your students can study our Thanksgiving Word Wall Vocabulary and complete one of the following in their literacy centers:

  • A Thanksgiving poem
  • A story about a past Thanksgiving
  • An informative piece about the meaning and traditions of Thanksgiving.

Write Gratitude Cards

These bear hug gratitude cards are incredibly cute, and they’re also a nice way for your students to say thank you to someone special in their lives — be it a classmate, a family member, or someone else who they are grateful to.

letter writing template shaped like a bear with long arms to "hug"

Pinecone Place Card Holders

This Thanksgiving project for elementary students isn’t just fun for the classroom — it can be used at home too! Gather up pine cones or ask your students to bring some from home (you can also buy pine cones at a craft store if you don’t have them in your neighborhood).

Provide your students with fall-colored paint to decorate their pine cones. Allow to dry on a piece of wax paper, and voila — you have pretty pine cones for the table to hold their place cards.

Want your students to practice penmanship? Cut out small squares of cardstock for your kiddos to create the place cards, carefully writing out the names of their family members. The cards can be stuck at the top of the pine cone and should be able to stay there, but if there isn’t a natural slit in the cone for the card, you can add a dab of glue.

pine cones decorated to make placecard holders

Fruit Pie Fractions

We all have our Thanksgiving table favorites from the bird to the fixings. Celebrate the dessert part of the classic holiday meal while learning about fractions!

Thanksgiving Day Word Search

Give your fast finishers something fun to do and help them brush on their turkey day terminology with this Thanksgiving activity: word search!

Use the Teach Starter Word Search widget to create a quick printable word search with our pre-populated Thanksgiving vocabulary list, or add your own words!

Save Terrance the Turkey!

Add some giggles to your turkey gobbles with these delightful writing activities about Terrance the Turkey!

Thanksgiving Activities for the Classroom - Save Terrance the Turkey

Your students will love helping him escape his fate as Thanksgiving dinner as they practice persuasive writing with a letter convincing you why Terrance should not be eaten on Thanksgiving day! Why not combine this activity with a writing task about the presidential pardoning of the turkey on our Thanksgiving Themed Writing Paper?

Looking for even more Thanksgiving activities and ideas? Check out our Thanksgiving  Teaching Resource Pack … or click on some of the fun resources below:

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