ESL Canadian Thanksgiving Lesson Plan

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

In this lesson plan, ESL students will learn about Canadian Thanksgiving. After a group activity involving comparing and contrasting, students will show what they know by creating a vocabulary-driven illustration.

Learning Objectives

  • Compare and contrast Canadian and American Thanksgiving traditions
  • Use vocabulary to label an illustration of a Canadian Thanksgiving scene


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.5

With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.4

Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.


  • Newfoundland
  • October
  • Explorer
  • Feast
  • Turkey
  • Pie
  • Thankful
  • Low-key
  • Harvest


  • Sentence strips with the following written on them:
    • Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November
    • Celebrated on the second Monday of October
    • Began in 1578 in Newfoundland
    • Began in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts
    • Started by the Pilgrims
    • Started by English explorer Sir Martin Frobisher
    • Eat a large feast with loved ones
    • Eat lots of turkey
    • Eat lots of pie
    • A time to be thankful
    • A major holiday across the country
    • A low-key holiday
    • Black Friday is the next day
    • Used to be a time to give thanks for a good harvest but is now a time to be thankful to God
  • Pictures of the following:
    • Black Friday advertisement or shopping scene
    • Thanksgiving turkey
    • Pumpkin pie
    • Thanksgiving feast
    • October calendar
    • November calendar
    • Sir Martin Frobisher
    • Pilgrims
    • Plymouth, Massachusetts
    • Newfoundland
  • Sets of index cards that say 'Canadian Thanksgiving,' 'American Thanksgiving' and 'Both' (one set per student)
  • Blank paper
  • Crayons


Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Open the lesson by asking students to turn and talk about what they know about Thanksgiving. Call on students to share responses.
  • Explain that Thanksgiving is celebrated not only in the United States, but also in other countries. Today, they are going to learn about Canadian Thanksgiving and how it compares with American Thanksgiving.
  • Distribute the sets of index cards to students. Read each card aloud and ask students to repeat. Explain that they will listen to and read a Thanksgiving fact and determine if it applies to Canadian Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving or both. Students will hold the card up to show their answer.
  • Draw a large Venn diagram on the board with the labels 'Canada,' 'America' and 'Both.'

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