Planning for classes held during the week of Thanksgiving can be a challenge for teachers. If most of the students are in class, there are meaningful activities that middle school students will benefit from doing.
However, sometimes parents check out their kids early, and that can wreak havoc for a well-planned lesson. Enough students will be absent that introducing new concepts would be a hardship for them to make up, but there are still plenty of students present and bursting with energy as they wait for their holiday vacation.
Games to Get Moving
Middle school students will enjoy getting up and moving around the classroom. Push the desks to the side and get out some masking tape and markers, because “Who is the Turkey?” is a fun physical activity.
- Have the class brainstorm key players in Thanksgiving history, such as Pilgrims, Native Americans, Mayflower Sailors, Traders, Farmers, etc.
- List them on the strips of tape. It is alright to have duplicate words.
- One word must be single: Turkey.
- Line the class up so they are facing the wall, and tape the words to their backs.
- Instruct the students that they are going to walk around and mingle. They can ask “yes or no” questions to determine who they are. Once they figure out who they are, they sit in a designated area. The goal is to answer honestly, but keep the turkey from figuring out who he or she is.
Students will also enjoy playing “Save the Turkey”. If the weather is warm, this is a great game to play outside with middle school students.
- All the students sit in a circle.
- Tell each student that they are Thanksgiving turkeys.
- Each student looks around the circle and silently chooses one person to be the Turkey Hunter.
- Each student looks around the circle and silently chooses the Vegetarian.
- Tell the students that they must stay as far away as possible from the Turkey Hunter, and directly behind the Vegetarian for protection from the Turkey Hunter.
Of course, the game turns into a lot of running and fun, because it always turns out that someone has chosen to be protected by a the same person who has chosen them as a hunter to avoid. Students love this game.
Fun, Free Craft Ideas
Even though these craft ideas are designed for younger children, middle school students may enjoy a trip down memory lane by cutting, coloring, and creating. Enchantedlearning.com offers many traditional craft ideas and some new twists on ideas. Patterns for some of the ideas will make the crafts go even faster, allowing students to create more to bring home and admire over break.
Online Thanksgiving Games
For teachers lucky enough to be using a computer lab or have computers available for students, there are fun online Thanksgiving games for students to play. Search for “flash turkey game”, and teachers and students will find delightful games.
Even though the class may be half-empty, it is also half-full. With the students who remain in class on the days before a break, teachers may find excellent opportunities to work creatively and enjoy some classroom bonding time through energizing experiences.