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I don’t know about your school, but at mine the holiday craziness begins creeping in around mid-November! I absolutely love the holiday program rehearsals, assemblies and special events. But it means I need to be *FLEXIBLE* with my lesson plans and have some activities ready to “fill in” when time is short.
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I like to have some fun read-alouds with extension activities on hand so that I’m always prepared. I’d like to share some of my favorites from my library with you, with some free printables that you can find over at TpT to go along with them! Let’s start with my absolute fave…
One of my favorite childhood traditions was watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade in my p.j.s! I loved the giant balloons, the floats, and Santa at the end! I still tune into it every year. Many of your students probably watch the parade as part of their Thanksgiving traditions, so they will connect with this book! I love this book because we get a glimpse into the childhood of Tony Sarg and gain insight into how his interests as a young boy led to the invention of the giant balloon puppets that are still so iconic today. Melissa Sweet’s mixed media collage illustrations are delightful (Don’t overlook the endpapers!)! This book is great for examining character traits and citing textual evidence. (Read more about how I like to use this book in this post!)
The next 3 titles are variations on the Turkey Disguise theme – what fun!
This hilarious story centers around the chicken’s beauty parlor and what happens when Lance (a turkey) comes to town because he’s been invited to a “special feast.” As soon as the chicks realize he is to be the main course, they help him out with a complete makeover and save him from the disaster! The illustrations are photographs taken of chicken mannequins created by Mary Jane and sets created with found objects by Herm. This is another great book to reinforce character traits. Clever plays on words like eggsercise, eggsploring, eggsit, will keep listeners chuckling and the illustrations will have everyone looking twice!
A turkey migrating to avoid being served for Thanksgiving dinner realizes he is a pilgrim once he gets to a safe place. Gus travels all the way to the South Pole where he quickly puts on a tuxedo to blend in with the penguins. When he teaches his new friends about the pilgrims and Thanksgiving, he has a revelation that he, too, has made a similar journey. This book would be a great comparison to the traditional Thanksgiving story.
This fun, brightly illustrated story is engaging because of the rhythm and rhyme of the text. The people of the town of Squawk Valley think they are being smart as they try to trick Pete the Perky Turkey into being part of their Thanksgiving dinner. However, Pete outsmarts the townspeople and escapes to vacation on the beach. The publisher has some fun activities at their website: http://winslowpress.com/perkyturkey/perkyturkey.cfm
Another rhythmic rhyming text with engaging illustrations, Dav Pilkey does not disappoint! This variation on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is a great book for helping your students look at picture clues – they can notice that Farmer Mac Nugget is carrying an ax on the field trip, and that the kids suddenly look chubby with feathers sticking out of their clothes. The text is rich with vocabulary that is worth examining as well: aloft, terrains, cockerels, miniature, dread, clamored, abounding… This feel good story effectively brings home the theme of the season: thankfulness.
It’s the illustrations in this book that are sure to draw your kids in! They are great for discussing point of view since we get to see the action from all different angles. Plus the mouse is dressed just like some of them, with jeans and a sweater, and even glasses! This is a fun cumulative tale that builds suspense as it goes along. Besides the fun pictures, my next favorite thing about it is the theme: you guessed it – thankfulness!
Are you exclaiming the same words I did when I first looked at the cover closely (after reading the book!)?? JUDY SCHACHNER?!?!?! Yes the illustrator of this story is indeed the creator of Skippyjon Jones!! No wonder I loved the pictures! Plus, who doesn’t love a nice round of “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”? This fun version has the old woman eating all of the elements of a Thanksgiving dinner and then some! Your students will chuckle at Schachner’s illustrations as the woman grows larger and larger. The facial expressions of the other characters are entertaining as they stare at her and marvel at her many uncomfortable positions. In the end the now-much-larger woman becomes a balloon in the Thanksgiving parade!
SOME OTHER BOOKS THAT ARE FUN EVEN WITHOUT FREEBIES…
I grew up singing this song in elementary school (kind of funny, since I grew up in Los Angeles and didn’t have any background knowledge to connect to!), so when I came across this version, I was immediately drawn to it. The illustrations put a terrific, updated twist on an old classic. We follow a turkey family as they celebrate Thanksgiving with their barnyard friends. Bonus: The endpapers have the music and lyrics in a playable, sing-able version! No freebie needed! Sing the song with the kids!
I bought this as part of a set of holiday drawing books that includes Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. I like them because they are simple and fun. The first few pages give some basic drawing tips and then there are 9 two page spreads with how-tos for drawing such holiday items as a turkey, the Mayflower, a pilgrim hat, and more! No freebie needed! Do a directed drawing with the kids!
Again, this book is part of a set I purchased that includes lots of other holidays. I like it because it contains great background information on Thanksgiving and a terrific “Before You Begin” section with tips for cooking. The photographs of utensils are clearly labeled and very helpful. This cookbook contains seven recipes, from Apple-Honey Cranberry Sauce to Thick and Tasty Pumpkin Smoothies. Each recipe has clear step by step directions with photographs, along with background information on each type of food and some extra “Food Facts.” A short glossary, index, and link to website round out the cookbook. No freebie needed! Whip up a recipe with your kids!
I hope you enjoy some of these books and activities with your students!
Click below to see a video demonstration of these books and freebies!:
I’d love to hear about your favorite November read alouds! Please share them in the comments!
Be well and have fun!