We all know that finding creative ways to incorporate cultural festivities is key to keeping students motivated to learn English.

With this in mind, now that we’re in the month of November, both English teachers and conversation assistants are rushing to find resources that will allow them to tackle this special American holiday. How can I teach my students what Thanksgiving means?

5 Fun thanksgiving games to play in the classroom

1- «Thanksgiving Charades»

Charades or miming games are always a good option for teaching new vocabulary. Simply review the vocabulary to be learned, write it on cards, and let the students gesture the word they’ve drawn for their classmates to guess. You can write words like «Turkey,» «Thank you,» «Pumpkin,» «Harvest,» or «Corn.» This simple game requires very little planning and guarantees a session filled with laughter.

2- Turkey Trivia

This is a great activity to split your students into two groups. To make it even more fun, each time a team gives the correct answer, you can ask them to celebrate the point scored by «doing the turkey dance.» You’ll find that your students will not only find it hilarious but will also embrace the competitive spirit that motivates them to participate. Here are some examples of questions and answers (for a simpler format, ask your students to choose the correct answer from 3 options):

  • Question: In what year is considered to be the first Thanksgiving celebrated?
    • Answer: 1621.
  • Question: What is the name of the ship the Pilgrims arrived in America on?
    • Answer: The Mayflower.
  • Question: What is the characteristic Thanksgiving food that is essential on the table and is usually stuffed with bread and herbs?
    • Answer: Turkey.
  • Question: What sport do Americans traditionally watch on TV on Thanksgiving Day?
    • Answer: American football.
  • Question: On which day of the week is Thanksgiving celebrated in the United States?
    • Answer: Fourth Thursday of November.

3- «Gratitude Circle»

This activity is as simple as it is beautiful. Create a circle where each student shares something they are thankful for, either by passing a ball or any object to pass the turn to speak. To make the activity more challenging, you can require that nothing be repeated that students have already said.

4- «Build a Thanksgiving Story»

First, explain the traditional story of Thanksgiving but don’t forget to approach it respectfully with regard to the Native American community. Then, divide the class into groups and assign each group a different part of the Thanksgiving story. Each group creates a visual representation or dramatization of their part and then they will have to come out in order to dramatize the complete story.

5- «Thanksgiving Vocabulary Pictionary»

Just like with the game «Thanksgiving Charades,» prepare cards with words related to Thanksgiving, such as «cranberry,» «mash potatoes,» or «feast.» Divide the class into teams. A student from each team chooses a card and must draw the word without using letters or numbers. The rest of the team tries to guess the word in English. A proposal that never disappoints to reinforce vocabulary in a fun and visual way.

A Cultural Experience

As educators, we have the privilege of not only imparting knowledge but also of cultivating experiences that will linger in the memories of our students. By incorporating these creative activities in the classroom during the Thanksgiving season, we are not only teaching about history and traditions but also building bridges to cultural understanding and fostering human connection. And all through a holiday that celebrates the feeling of gratitude! Isn’t that wonderful? Happy Thanksgiving!