A free Thanksgiving Activity!
One of my favorite ways to kick off a thematic lesson is to ask students to brainstorm the first five words that pop into their head when they think about the theme. Encourage them to write down the first things they think of without too much thinking.
This is a worksheet I use for a Thanksgiving Day brainstorm. To be honest, you don't need the worksheet. Students can just write on a piece of paper. This simple idea can be done in a number of ways:
* Have students call out their ideas one by one. This elicits vocabulary, gets their brain thinking about the topic, and also goes pretty fast.
* Put students in pairs or groups to share their five words and then agree on five words as a collective. This gives students a chance to share in smaller, safer space, and then discuss the topic deeply.
* Put words up on the board, or have students write them, and discuss connections, contradictions, interesting choices (such as "Who said cotton candy? Why cotton candy?"). This facilitates deep thinking about the topic and often leads to funny stories.
* You can also write the words on a poster and keep it up as a Word Cloud while you discuss that theme. This gets students thinking about key words every day when they come to class and it can serve as a prompt for a discussion in later classes.
* Do a class survey. Get students to survey each other and find out the top five words chosen by the class.
* Have students hang their worksheets around the classroom and let other students walk around and look at them. Discuss the most interesting, unusual, beautiful, funny worksheet.
* Tell them they must use those five words in a story or paragraph or essay about the theme. This can be homework or an end-of-unit review exercise.
* Have students swap brainstorms and see if they can figure out the meaning behind the other students' choices.
* Have students put the worksheets away and at the end of the unit, bring it back up to see if their mind has changed or if they have learned anything new.
These ideas are included in the handout itself as well.