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The Best Activities for Thanksgiving in Middle School

Thanksgiving in the United States is a time to celebrate family, gratitude, and kindness. We encourage people to think about what they are thankful for and to focus on what we have before we enter the holiday season of gift giving and receiving. Just as adults and families need to focus on gratitude, middle school students must also. Encourage the middle schoolers in your life to think about what they are grateful and thankful for through some amazing activities for Thanksgiving!

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

This is a tricky question. For many of us, we have grown up to be grateful for what we have on Thanksgiving. We have been taught that it is a day of family, cooperation, and peace, just as the Wampanoag Tribal Nation and the Pilgrims celebrated all those years ago. It is important to acknowledge the time of peace that was celebrated that day. It was a day that had been preceded by violence and hatred and was also followed by hard times.

Depending on what you are allowed to teach about Thanksgiving, you have lots of options. Your school may go in the gratitude and kindness direction with the fun and cute activities for Thanksgiving, or you may be able to teach a little bit of history. If you’re going the history route, I would highly recommend listening to or reading the transcript from the Teaching Thanksgiving interview on NPR with Andrea Riley-Mukavetz. She is a college professor who teaches about Native Americans and Thanksgiving in her classes and is Ojibwe and a mom who has great ideas on teaching this sensitive topic to students. 

Thanksgiving Around the World Traditions

Most of us have a pretty good idea of the basic traditions surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. We even have some exciting activities for Thanksgiving that we love to use in classrooms with middle school students. However, did you know that there are many different countries with Thanksgiving celebrations?


In Germany, Thanksgiving is a celebration in honor of autumn and the harvest called Erntedank or Erntedankfest. It is generally celebrated on the first Sunday of October, but there is no set date nationally. To celebrate, people often attend a special church service followed by parades, fairs, and family dinners. Gratefulness, kindness, and thankfulness for the harvest and family are key. If you want to learn more, go read Erntedank: Thanksgiving in Germany


For the Chinese people, the Mid-Autumn Festival of Moon Festival is the day where they celebrate the harvest and give thanks. Family members gather together to eat many different and delicious moon cakes together and participate in activities for Thanksgiving together. With over 3,000 years of history, I don’t have room for all the details here, but I would encourage you to learn more from the Chinese Culture Tour about the Mid-Autumn Festival


Every year, the world celebrates World Gratitude Day together. It is a day when people worldwide are encouraged to stop and think about what they are grateful for. It is a day of friendship, cooperation, and acts of kindness. Find out more by reading about World Gratitude Day, its history, and how you can promote activities for thanksgiving in observance of World Gratitude Day. 

Easy Activities for Thanksgiving in Middle School

There are many activities for Thanksgiving your middle schoolers can do! Some of my favorite activities that you can do with materials in your classroom are as follows:

Gratitude Journal

There are many activities for Thanksgiving your middle schoolers can do! Some of my favorite activities that you can do with materials in your classroom are as follows:


Kindness Behind Your Back

In middle school, gossip and mean words run rampant. Your students are trying to find their place in the world and in school while they figure out who they are. Lots of bad things are said behind others’ backs. Encourage kind words to be spoken behind your students’ backs! Use short pieces of masking tape to cover your students’ backs. Then, ask students to use a pen or marker to write kind words on the backs of their classmates. 

Thanksgiving Resources & Activities

If you’re looking for resources and activities for Thanksgiving that you have to put zero effort into this year, look no further. I have a plethora of Thanksgiving resources developed just for you and your class’s needs for activities for Thanksgiving. 


Thanksgiving Around the World

Do you want your students to be exposed to Thanksgiving traditions around the world? In addition to learning more about the traditions in Germany, China, and worldwide we discussed earlier, your students will learn about Brazil, Lithuania, Ghana, Japan, and India. With my Thanksgiving Around the World resources, your students will read about and complete activities for Thanksgiving celebrations all across the globe. 

Digital Resources & Activities for Thanksgiving

Use my Thanksgiving resources to teach your students more about the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate in the United States. These resources give more history about the holiday. There are readers with comprehension questions, puzzle breakouts, color-by-number activities, and escape rooms (both digital and printable for your class!). These are great educational and fun activities for Thanksgiving in middle school. 


Thanksgiving is a holiday that has been celebrated in the United States for hundreds of years, celebrating cooperation, kindness, and gratitude for the harvest. There are many celebrations celebrating kindness, harvest, and family worldwide. Teach your students more about the history (good and not-so-good) that accompanies Thanksgiving and enjoy some middle school activities for Thanksgiving. 

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