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    Monday, October 30, 2023

    Celebrating Thanksgiving in the Special Education Classroom

    The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year outside and inside of the classroom! My students and I always have so much fun celebrating the holidays. And the first holiday to kick things off will be here before we know it! Keep reading to learn more about how I celebrate Thanksgiving in my special education classroom.

    ELA Ideas

    • Each November, I introduce our Thanksgiving vocabulary words which we will use throughout the month during various activities and stories. 

    • A big vocabulary concept we focus on at this time is the idea of past and present we typically do the accompanying unit from Unique Learning System and supplement with other fun stories and activities including this sorting activity.

    After we read the story together several times throughout the week, we like to watch it on YouTube as well. This can be a great independent activity for students during centers time. I will set them up on their Chromebook (or an iPad with guided access 😉) and also provide the picture-based communication board from when we read as a group. 

    Social Group Ideas

    • The absolute highlight of our Thanksgiving unit is our classroom Thanksgiving Feast. It is such a fun tradition and we love to invite staff throughout the school to stop by during their lunch period to join the fun. 
    • During the Thanksgiving feast, each student practices asking peers or staff to pass the different foods using this picture-supported script. 

    • After the feast, all of the students fill out a taste test rating each of the foods they tried. We send it home that evening and my parents have really appreciated having this little "cheatsheet" for their family Thanksgiving dinner, especially for our picky eaters who sometimes surprise us by trying new things after participating in the preparation and getting excited about their peers trying new things too. 

    Math Ideas

    • Before the feast, we talk a lot about buying the foods we will need. Some years we have checked ads and on one rare occasion we actually took a class field trip to the grocery store to buy our feast foods! It was kinda stressful but kind of great at the same time... as many things can be in our classroom!
    • To go along with the idea of shopping for our feast foods, I have a fun menu math activity that I made for students. 

    • What better tool for teaching fractions than a pie?! I admit it can be messy but messy is memorable! Some years we baked a pie during cooking and then used it to talk about fractions. In other years we bought mini-pies. And one year a VERY sweet para baked mini-pies for every student so they could each have their own. 

    • I created another follow-up activity to assess their fraction knowledge.

    Cooking & Craft Ideas

    • We try to make as much of our Thanksgiving feast as possible at school. Aside from the turkey. We tend to outsource for that! 
    • The kids have a blast making these turkey cupcakes for dessert!

    • They also have so much fun when we make "Pilgrim ink" with charcoal during our concept study about the past. They think writing with feathers is the funniest thing ever. 

    These recipes can be found in my Thanksgiving Thematic Unit or my Visual Recipes for the Entire Year resource. 

    Interested in these activities and more? Grab my Thanksgiving Thematic Unit in my TPT store!

    In addition to cross-curricular, interactive lesson materials, each of my thematic units include:
    • Set-Up Instructions
    • Implementation Tips for Whole/Small Group, 1:1, and independent work times for each activity
    • Differentiation Tips for Accommodating and Extending each activity to meet student needs

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