Thanksgiving Activities in the Spanish Classroom

Thanksgiving isn't exactly a Hispanic Holiday, but it can be tricky to figure out what to do that Wednesday (or sometimes Tuesday also) before Thanksgiving. Many students will be out of town, so you don't want to teach something new. But every student you wish was going to be out of town will absolutely be there. And they will be extra excited for a 4-day weekend and family time and the holidays and pumpkin pie and oh lord who knows what else.

I use that Wednesday before Thanksgiving to teach Thanksgiving-related vocabulary. It's easy so no one has to think too hard, students who are absent don't miss anything, and it keeps students in an academic (not chaotic) mindset. Every year students seem to think they're going to get "free time" for the entire class period. Hahahahaha... NEVER GONNA HAPPEN, KIDS! Student free time = crazy teacher. No thanks.

What I do the day before a break depends on the group of students. Some groups of students need to walk in and see the same routines in place as any other day. I hand out a Do Now (Bell Ringer, drill, etc) and we go over it and I teach a lesson on powerpoint with Thanksgiving-related vocabulary and then we do a variety of activities with that vocabulary.  Some written, some games, some in groups, some independent.

Other groups of students can handle a break from the routine and quietly find their seats without a Do Now projected to the screen and we can go through the powerpoint and learn new Spanish words and then just play games with them the rest of the class period.
"I Have Who Has" (or "Yo Tengo Quien Tiene") can be a fun whole-class activity to review vocabulary.  Each student gets a card that says "Yo tengo" and a picture of a Thanksgiving-related vocabulary item.  Then under that it says "¿Quién tiene" and names another vocabulary word. Any student can start by reading their question, then the student who has that vocabulary word responds and reads their question, and the game is over when it loops back to the first student.
I love scavenger hunts because students get up out of their seats and walk all around the room. They see a picture for the vocabulary word (or a description in Spanish for upper-level classes) and they have to write the vocabulary word, find it around the room, walk over to it, see or read the next clue, and continue until the last clue leads back to the first vocabulary word. I have blogged about how to set up a scavenger hunt activity HERE.
Memory is also a great partner game because students will play quietly (doesn't every teacher enjoy some peace and quiet?) while also reviewing vocabulary. And they already know the rules, so it's super easy to set up and get everyone started.

And, one of my all-time favorite types of activities, a good coloring activity also maintains a low level of murmur in the classroom while students reinforce Spanish concepts. I cannot tell you how much I love coloring activities. I have blogged about incorporating coloring into the high school classroom HERE. Instead of Thanksgiving-related vocabulary, I made turkeys with conjugated verbs in them and students have to color each part of the turkey based on the subject pronoun of the verb. I have them in the present, preterite, and future tenses so students of all levels can color in turkeys. Then you can bet I staple them up on a bulletin board to display all the many pretty turkeys. Even high school students want to see their pretty turkeys displayed for all classes to admire.
I sometimes give upper-level classes a writing assignment - ¿por qué estás agradecido?. They have to write a paragraph about what they are thankful for. We brainstorm ideas as a class, write a sentence or two together, and then I allow students to finish independently. You can bet I staple their paragraphs up on a bulletin board with the pretty verb Turkeys.
Have you ever had an administrator walk into your room and look at student papers you have posted to a bulletin board and see that the date is from 3 months ago? And then they give you a look of disappointment and ask you to change the papers and keep it "relevant". Ugh. Do you want me to teach or do you want me to play with bulletin boards?? Teacher Confession: I do NOT like making bulletin boards or covering them or even thinking about them. There are so many things to do as a teacher and fooling around with decorating a bulletin board is so far down my list of priorities. And then I figured out how to make my bulletin boards work for me. Word walls! They aren't just for elementary school! I type up the vocabulary words for the current unit for each of my classes (if I have 1 or 2 preps - or more if I have ginormous bulletin boards) and add the clipart I use for each vocabulary word, print, laminate, and post to the bulletin board! And voila! A reference to help students out (so long as I'm not giving a vocabulary quiz!) and I can leave it up for weeks. No administrator can be upset about how my Word Wall isn't current.
I have a bundle in my store that includes the turkey verb coloring activity, the estoy agradecido writing activity, Thanksgiving I Have Who Has, Thanksgiving Memory, a Thanksgiving mini-lesson with a powerpoint, vocabulary sheet, and two writing activities, Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunts, the Thanksgiving Word Wall, and a lesson plan explaining everything. It is available HERE. It allows for differentiation and a variety of activities for Spanish classes of all levels!

What activities do you like to do the day before Thanksgiving to keep students engaged?

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