Thanksgiving Writing Prompts to Kick-off the Holiday Season

Writing prompts, classroom warm-ups, and even research starters focused on the Thanksgiving holiday.

By Dawn Dodson

turkey hand

Thanksgiving is the holiday for expressing gratitude. It is the season to be thankful for family, friends, and all the blessings of the closing year. Take advantage of the time of year by implementing some of the following ideas to engage focus for readers, writers, and teachers alike. Allowing writers to use Thanksgiving-themed prompts provides new opportunities that are personally appealing and can help students reflect on their past year as a kick-off to the holiday season. The following are Thanksgiving-themed writing prompts that can be used as a part of the classroom journal, warm-up exercises, free writing time, or even as a start to a larger research collection project.

Warm-Up Exercises

Warm-up exercises will help your pupils transition their thinking to the content and subject matter that lies ahead. It also allows the teacher a few minutes to take care of procedural matters that occur as each group of learners enters the classroom. Find engaging warm-ups that writers can easily connect with and begin completing immediately. Connecting warm-up activities with an upcoming holiday is even better—we already know our students are thinking about it! Here are a few Thanksgiving-themed writing prompt ideas:

  • Create a list of ten people you know whose jobs are to provide help to others. Describe how each person is helpful.
  • Create an alphabetical list of all your favorite Thanksgiving foods.
  • Draw an advertisement to a community Thanksgiving parade. How will you entice people to attend the parade and bring food donations for the local food pantry?
  • What do you know about the first Thanksgiving? What are some common misconceptions? 

Classroom Journals

Using classroom journals to formulate writing is a common practice. Having a section for writing prompts is a great place for pupils to experiment with ideas that may later turn into finished pieces. Writing prompts often get the creative juices flowing, and the following ideas are holiday-themed:

  • What are your favorite Thanksgiving memories?
  • Describe your dream Thanksgiving dinner. Be sure to incorporate sensory details.
  • What are you thankful for this year? Why?
  • Write a thank you letter to someone in your life that you are thankful for and/or someone who is a special person in your life.
  • Taking the point of view of the main character in your current independent reading book, describe what his/her Thanksgiving holiday would be like.
  • Create an invitation to a Thanksgiving celebration hosted by you. Where will it take place? When? Why should your guests attend?
  • Create a menu of the perfect Thanksgiving meal. Be sure to describe each item using sensory details.

Research Starters

The Thanksgiving holiday also provides an opportunity to delve deeper into historical and cultural topics of research. Learners can collect facts on a chosen topic and present them digitally, through an essay, speech, or all three. The following are a few research topics:

  • What was the reality of the first Thanksgiving? Why might it be portrayed differently?
  • Who were the Wampanoags? Collect facts about their culture and their involvement with the pilgrims.
  • Almost all cultures celebrate a season of harvest. Find three different cultures to research. Write down how they celebrate their harvest.
  • What is the reality of homelessness in America? Collect facts and statistics that demonstrate a trend, and be sure to explain what it means. What is being done to help? What are other possible solutions to this problem?

More Thanksgiving Themed Lessons:

If you crave something more than classroom warm-ups and journal prompts, but don’t have quite enough time for a research project, the following lessons might be the perfect way to celebrate the Thanksgiving season with your class.

The Wampanoag Indians: A Thanksgiving Lesson

This lesson allows scholars to tour a virtual museum in conjunction with reading a story about the first Thanksgiving. They then compare the story to the perspective of the Wampanoags.

You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving

After exploring a website to learn more about the first Thanksgiving, learners create a museum exhibit depicting the facts. This is a great way for them to learn the facts about the colonists, Wampanoags, and their unique roles in the first Thanksgiving.

The First Thanksgiving Teacher’s Guide

This is a guide that shows teachers how to utilize a website that contains facts about the first Thanksgiving. Many features are available within this site including timelines and interviews. The guide is compatible with the prior lesson.