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Thanksgiving Lesson Plan for ESL Students

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 the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. They will listen to a Thanksgiving story, write what they are thankful for and design a plate of Thanksgiving food.

Learning Objectives

  • Use Thanksgiving vocabulary appropriately
  • Make a statement of thankfulness


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.1

Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.3

Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.


  • Turkey
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Yams
  • Green bean casserole
  • Rolls
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Ham
  • Stuffing
  • Thankful
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pumpkin pie


  • Sets of printed pictures of Thanksgiving food (one set per student)
  • Text about Thanksgiving (See 'Read Aloud' activity for suggestions.)
  • Sentence strips (one per student)
  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks


Read Aloud

  • Gather the students for a read aloud. Here are some suggestions for texts:
    • 'The Story of the First Thanksgiving' by Don Bolognese and Elaine Raphael
    • 'The Thanksgiving Story' by Alice Dalgliesh
    • 'Thanksgiving Is…' by Gail Gibbon
  • After reading the story, engage the students in a discussion with the following questions:
    • Why do Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?
    • What was the first Thanksgiving like?
    • How is Thanksgiving similar to other holidays?

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