Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thanksgiving Read Aloud and a FREE Writing Activity!




Yes, me hearties! Pirates celebrate Thanksgiving, too! After all, a steady diet of fish, squid, and hardtack gets a bit boring!! More importantly, because buccaneers spend so much time at sea, we miss our families and look forward to seeing our loved ones, sharing stories with them, and dining on turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie! 

Of course, the whole point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks for our blessings. As a teacher, I make a point to connect holidays with our curriculum. For Thanksgiving as with all holidays, I gather a variety of children's books and place them in our classroom library corner for students to read. I select my favorites to read to the class and start with ones that put a focus on the purpose of Thanksgiving, to give thanks for the special people in our lives and for the benefits we have. I recently created a new Pinterest board, Thanksgiving Books for Children, you may find helpful.

THANKFUL by Eileen Spinelli is one of my favorite Thanksgiving books. Written in rhyming couplets, this picture book is about a sister, brother, and their parents and the blessings for which they are grateful. Before introducing the book, I place post-its in strategic locations in the book. I cover the text of the first two pages of the story. For the rest of the book, I cover the last word of each couplet. Explanations for why will come later!

I begin the read-aloud by giving students time to look at the book cover. (If you have access to a doc camera, use it to show the illustrations.) Based on the cover's illustration, I have students determine the season and what the children are doing. I, also, have students think about the title and why the author chose it. Then I give them time to share their thoughts with a partner. After they share, I ask someone to tell the class what their partner said. Next, we take a look at the illustrations on the title pages and discuss what the children seem to be doing. (They are playing "dress up".)

Now I turn to the first page to focus on the illustration. Remember, I have covered the text. I ask the class who the girl is pretending to be (a waitress) and how they know. I show the next illustration and ask what is happening. (The waitress trips and the beverage flies toward the boy.) Next, I point out how the boy is dressed and ask students who they think he is pretending to be (a news reporter). They may not know so I direct their attention to the notepad, pencil, and camera. If news reporter doesn't come up, I tell them that we will read to find out.

Having read the first two pages and determining that the boy is a local news reporter, I ask students if the text rhymed and if so, what words rhymed. I also ask what is the waitress thankful for and what is the reporter thankful for. We, then, discuss why they are grateful for these particular items (shoes and interesting news). 

Before continuing our read aloud, I let the students know that I have covered some words with post-its. I explain that I want them to figure out what the hidden word is. I remind them that the illustrations and other words in the text provide clues. Also, I point out that the covered word rhymes with another word in the sentence. The rhyming words are fairly easy to determine so when I get to the post-it, I pause and give students the opportunity to call out the word before uncovering it. This makes the read aloud very interactive. 

When we have finished the book, I go back through the pages to talk about what the characters are thankful for. For example, why is the artist thankful for color and light or why is a chef thankful when the plates are licked clean. Now I ask students to think about what they are thankful for and share with their partners. I also share a few ideas of my own.

This is where read aloud segues to a writing activity. There are two activities I can choose. One is writing couplets similar to the ones in the book. The other is writing a paragraph to share the people and things for which we are thankful. Sometimes we do both writing activities.


I have put together a FREE resource to guide teachers and students through both writing processes. Included in the product are:
                     1. Teaching tips
                        2. Three graphic organizers
                        3. Draft and final copy sheets
                        4. Writing samples
                        5. Revision Checklist
                        6. Editing Checklist

Click on the product cover, and it will take you directly to my TpT store and this FREE resource.

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Happy Thanksgiving!


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