Thanksgiving Field Trip + Unit for Preschool and Kindergarten
Before I had kids, Thanksgiving was my absolute favorite holiday. I loved getting up to watch the Macy’s parade. I loved the long dinners with family that ended with pie. I loved watching football games. I loved getting to catch up with family that lives far away. I love that it is a holiday without a gimmick. There is no Santa, no Easter Bunny. It is just family getting together and being thankful.
Then I had children.
I love my children and they are pretty great kids, but they had different ideas about Thanksgiving. They thought the Macy’s parade was too long. They thought dinner was much to long and they had no desire (or ability) to catch up with family. They thought football games were too long and interrupted feeding time.
Despite their early opinions, I persisted because Thanksgiving is truly a wonderful holiday. Over the past four years I have gotten better at figuring out how to integrate our twins into our favorite Thanksgiving family traditions.
Thankful Walk + Thanksgiving Unit
One of the issues with Thanksgiving for kids is that it is hard for them to understand.
It is hard for them to understand why there’s no gimmick like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
It is hard for young kids to grasp the idea of pilgrims living off the land.
It is harder still to articulate what it means to be Thankful.
This field trip ideas is intended to help kids grasp the later just a little bit better.
Thanksgiving Field Trip: Thankful Walk
Field trips bring a topic to life. They make an abstract concept meaningful, real and alive for young kids. On a field trip kids will be able to touch things, ask questions of experts, and more.
This field trip is a simple walk that focuses on the world around us and the little things that make it better.
Before the Field Trip:
- Read books about being Thankful like some of these favorite children’s books for Thanksgiving.
- Also read Thank You Bees by Toni Yuly. Talk about some things you are thankful for in your world. Write down their ideas to bring with you on the field trip.
Explain to your kids that you are going for a thankful walk. Tell them you are going to head outside (or around the school) and look for things that they are thankful for like the ones they have just listed together.
For toddlers + preschoolers: Tell them when they find something they are thankful for gently touch it and say “Thank you” to it.
For early elementary schoolers: Tell them when they find something they are thankful for to write it on their clipboard or draw a picture. We used the printable below.
When you head outside you may need to start them out by finding something yourself. For example, you could walk up to a tree and say “Thank you tree for giving us shade” or “Thank you bench for being a nice place to sit.”
After the Field Trip:
- Have everyone share something they said thank you to with a partner.
- Hang up or make a book with everyone’s lists or your group list with photos from your walk.
More Field Trip Ideas
Thanksgiving Unit Activity Ideas
Below are fun learning ideas to use before and after your field trip. They are divided into developmental or curriculum areas.
- 5 Best Children’s Book about Being Thankful
- Read THANK YOU BEES by Toni Yuly and then write a simple poem using it as a model.
- Thanksgiving Story Time
- Name Cards – My kids love helping to make name cards and it’s a sneaky way to build in some letter-sound practice. I took cardstock, some crayons, and letter stickers and set them up on the table. First we colored the cardstock. Then I folded it in half and our twins helped figure out which letter we needed for each person. For example, Daddy got a D on his namecard. Older kids can work on handwriting and name recognition by writing the names on the name cards.
- Balloons Over Broadway Inspired Puppet Making
- Read and Create Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie
- Wall of Thankful Leaves
- Pinecone Door Decor: We went for a hike and gathered pinecones. Our kids painted them with tempera paint. After they dried we strung them together with string and hung them from a nail on the door.
- Include your kids in some of cooking for Thanksgiving.
- Investigate the insides of some traditional Thanksgiving foods – pumpkins, gourds, potatoes, etc.
- Napkin Rings Patterning: I loved that these napkin rings were a sneaky way to get my daughter to do some fine motor practice. It is not her favorite skill to work on and yet she had fun making these because they were for Thanksgiving and her grandparents.
- Pipe cleaners
- Wooden beadsActivity:
I explained what we were doing, including encouragement to make a pattern with the beads, and offered them each a bowl with beads and some pipe cleaners. Then they started stringing. We made one for each person we knew was coming and I helped twist them to tie them off at the end.
Don’t Forget: Download Thankful Printable
Current Learning Objectives
- Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English when writing
- Expand vocabulary
- Learn about significant historical events and family customs
- Develop important fine motor skills for future writing skills.
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