Sunday, November 1, 2015

Thanksgiving Classroom Celebration {Celebration of Family}

Hi everyone and Happy November!
I’m Mona from First Grade Schoolhouse.

It’s been especially warm here in southern California. It’s hard to believe that it’s fall, and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away.

I wanted to share what our first grade team does for our classroom Thanksgiving celebration each year. It’s not an original idea. One of our teachers told us about it. She got the idea from her own child’s teacher. We used the idea and have changed and adapted it over the years to highlight and appreciate the diversity and uniqueness of our students’ families.

We have a special activity called, “CELEBRATION OF FAMILY.” This event includes Thanksgiving poems and songs performed by the students and a museum featuring special items brought in by students. Families (including grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) are invited to attend.

The Celebration of Family museum includes a collection of items that are special to the family of each student. These items do not have to be antiques and could be everyday objects brought out for family “rituals.” Some examples include the popcorn bowl the family dives into when watching movies together, a favorite plate used for family get-togethers, or maybe it’s a momento from the last trip to visit extended family. It may be a family collection or an item handed down from a grandparent. The children might also photograph something and display the pictures. It’s an item that symbolizes something interesting or special about each family.

The parents discuss the importance of each object with their children, how long it has been in the family, and any other important information. 

I print the information that the child brings to class. This is an example of the placard that sits in front of each child's desk. The students share this information with parents as they tour the museum. Parents ask the students questions about their objects. It becomes an hour of storytelling.

One year I had a child who brought in a mitt as his artifact. He shared that his grandfather and father had both been baseball players. He and his family loved playing the game. He wanted to grow up to be a baseball player, too. The mitt as well worn. The student was especially proud of it. {Placard graphic by Whimsy Clips.}

The students create and wear these special turkey headbands on the day of our celebration.

A roomful of students wearing these headbands definitely gets you into the holiday spirit.

Student speakers welcome the parents.

Our first speaker welcomes the parents.

Our next speaker tells about the program.

The children begin by chanting a poem about the first Thanksgiving. They sing and dance to songs and chants.

The families are then excused to go outside for refreshments.

Our third speaker excuses the parents to go outside.

We go outside where desserts and drinks are served. It's a time for everyone to visit and talk about plans for the Thanksgiving holiday.

After, the children quickly go back into the classroom and get their placemats, placards, and artifacts ready on their desks. {Earlier in the day, we configure the desks into a u-shape.}

Our last speaker goes outside and rings a bell to get the attention of parents. The child announces that our museum is ready.

The families then come back into the classroom to tour the “museum.”

It’s heart-warming to see and listen to the children proudly share with parents about their family traditions. The parents thoroughly enjoy asking question of the students as they tour our museum. Each year parents comment that they love getting to meet all their children's classmates. What I love most is getting to know more about my students' families. I always find out new things about my students thru this activity.

If you'd like more information about our celebration, let me know. I'd be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

The graphics on the student speaker cards are by the talented and creative Kari Bolt. You can check out her graphics here.

If you're looking for some new fun and engaging Thanksgiving activities for your classroom, I have Thanksgiving writing packets for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade, and
Thanksgiving math centers, too.

Enjoy November! And Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Odd but I could not find these November products on TPT. Are they there?

  2. Hi. Where are your poems that you use? Are they on TPT. This is great!