Thanksgiving Short Story Unit Middle School and High School PRINT and DIGITAL

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55 Ratings
Grade Levels
6th - 8th
Formats Included
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39 pages
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  1. This year-long reading and writing bundle includes 24 RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES - THAT'S OVER 500+ PAGES of quality, engaging reading and writing content that incorporates all of the big holidays! This bundle will take you from August/September all the way through to May/June!!WHEN YOU PURCHASE THIS BUND
    Price $90.00Original Price $129.25Save $39.25
  2. These Nine Short Stories included in this bundle are perfect for your middle school classroom! Incorporating more short stories into your curriculum can result in higher student engagement, increased proficiency in citing and justifying textual evidence, and more complex analysis just to name a few!
    Price $52.00Original Price $67.75Save $15.75


This Thanksgiving mini-reading unit and activities for Middle School and High School students are perfect to use in the week or two leading up to Thanksgiving break.

Students will warm-up with a critical observation of Norman Rockwell’s iconic Thanksgiving Day painting, Freedom From Want. Following a discussion of students’ initial perceptions of the painting, they will read background information about the painting itself and what inspired its creation (President Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address, known as Four Freedoms).

The provided critical thinking questions help generate further analysis. Then students will participate in a close reading of O. Henry’s short story, “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen,” focusing on the theme. Finally, they will write their own conclusion to the story, different from O. Henry’s signature twist ending!


  • Instructions for Use: Detailed instructions for the teacher, as we walk you step-by-step through this mini-unit.
  • Freedom From Want Analysis Handout: This handout helps get students thinking and making connections. We like to use this activity as a think-pair-share as well.
  • Background Info & Critical Thinking Questions: Students will read President Roosevelt's State of the Union address, known as Four Freedoms, that inspired Norman Rockwell's painting, Freedom From Want. Students then answer corresponding questions to help create connections between the two pieces. *PLEASE NOTE: The speech and the painting are NOT included in this resource.*
  • "Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen" Short Story: Included with Teacher Annotations to help you effectively teach this story.
  • 8 Task Cards: Use these task cards in small groups, for a Socratic Seminar, as individual questions, etc. These are challenging, critical-thinking questions.
  • Focusing on Theme Handout: Students complete a challenging theme activity that asks them to provide evidence from the text to support their claims, as well as justification of their position.
  • Conclusion Writing Activity: To extend this unit, students will learn about the various endings authors use to create an impactful conclusion. Students will then write their own twist-ending conclusion (much like O. Henry).
  • EDITABLE Rubric: An editable rubric is included for your convenience! Please note you will need PPT in order to edit this file.


12 Days of Christmas Reading Activities for Middle School & High School

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Total Pages
39 pages
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


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