Thanksgiving (jigsaw reading)


age: 16

level: A2

group size: 12

I designed this 45-minute-lesson especially for this group as they asked me to learn about Thanksgiving in the USA. It is a mixed-ability group, i.e. there are five students with developmental disorders (dyslexia, dysgraphia, or both). The group likes to go off the coursebook and talk about topics they are interested in. Luckily, I have enough freedom to do that.

Pre-reading (10’)

Do this Kahoot! to raise students’ awareness of the topic and vocabulary.

stop the game to ask questions or explain and discuss new words

While reading (25’)

Tell students now they are going to get some information about what is celebrated at Thanksgiving. The texts they will read are slightly different and focus on various aspects of Thanksgiving.

Give each student a text. (Text A should be given to slower students, as it is the shortest and the easiest one.) Students who have the same text sit in a bunch and read their texts (I got 4 groups of As, Bs and Cs). After reading the text, they have to answer questions they can from the list. When they have finished, get them to leave their groups so that they can answer all the questions on the list. (I got 4 groups of ABC)

Circulate to help them if they need and to check answers.


Find your group (A, B or C). Take a pen and sit down with your group.

Read your text.

Don’t worry about new words right now.

Discuss the answers with your group.

Only answer questions theat you can.

Don’t worry if you don’t have the answer to all the questions.

Stand up and form new groups, find students who read different text from yours. (or T groups them)

Answer all the questions now.



Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday in November. It is a federal holiday, so schools, banks, and government offices are closed. Thanksgiving was the first holiday celebrated in America. It was first celebrated when the Wampanoag Indians and the pilgrims got together for a three-day feast and festival of fun.

Who were the pilgrims?

The pilgrims were a small group of people who sailed to North America from Plymouth (England) in order to start a new life. They sailed on the Mayflower ship and landed on in America. They wanted religious freedom.

What do they eat?

Today, families celebrate Thanksgiving by eating turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, corn, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and an NFL football game are special Thanksgiving Day events.


What is Thanksgiving?

It is a bank holiday celebrated in November. The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 when the pilgrims invited the Indians to a three-day feast to celebrate the autumn harvest. Thanksgiving Day traditionally kicks off the ‘holiday season’ in the United States. The day was set in stone by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 and approved by Congress in 1941. In fact, more people in the US celebrate Thanksgiving than do Christmas. Thanksgiving Day is secular (not church) holiday in a country that officially separates church and state so this probably makes sense.

Why do they eat turkey?

Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote a letter about that now-famous meal in 1621 which talked about a turkey hunt before the dinner. Another theory says the choice of turkey was inspired by Queen Elizabeth I who was eating dinner when she heard that Spanish ships had sunk on their way to attack England. Queenie was so happy with the news she asked for another turkey. Some say that early US settlers (pilgrims) roasted turkeys as they were inspired by her actions. Others say that because wild turkeys are native to North America, they were a natural choice for early settlers.


What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a very American public holiday. It means that schools, post offices and government offices are closed. It is celebrated in November every year. There are two versions of the origins of this holiday. One is thanks for the early settlers (pilgrims) arriving in America safely. On December the 4th, 1619, a group of English pioneers arrived at a place called Berkeley Hundred, in Virginia. The group made a promise that the day of their arrival should be a “day of thanksgiving” to God. The second version is the thanks given to Native Americans (Indians) for teaching the pilgrims how to catch eels and grow corn in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1941, President Roosevelt made Thanksgiving a federal holiday.

What do people do at Thanksgiving?

The main event of any Thanksgiving is the Thanksgiving dinner. It is traditional to have baked or roasted turkey with cranberry sauce, and gravy, so it is not a good time to be a turkey. Pumpkin pie is the most common dessert. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for traveling. It is a four-day or five-day weekend vacation for most schools and colleges, and many businesses and government workers get three or four days off. Thanksgiving is also the time when Christmas preparations begin. When Thanksgiving finishes, stores fill their shelves with Christmas goods.


Answer this list of questions.

When is Thanksgiving celebrated?

How long is the holiday nowadays?

When will be this year’s Thanksgiving Day?

Why was it first celebrated on 4th December 1619?

Who were invited to the celebration?

How long was the first celebration?

Can you send a letter on Thanksgiving day?

Can you go to a bank on Thanksgiving day?

What do people celebrate at Thanksgiving?

What’s more popular: Thanksgiving or Christmas?

Why did the pilgrims travel to America?

What veggies do people eat at Thanksgiving?

What are the 3 different explanations to eating turkey at Thanksgiving?

What happens after Thanksgiving is over?

True or false?

1 There is a Thanksgiving Parade organized by Macy’s on Thanksgiving Day.

2  The pilgrims arrived on a ship called Mayflower.

3 Federal, public and bank holidays have the same meaning.

4 Native Americans helped the pilgrims catch animals and grow plants.

Post-reading activities

1, 4 (10’)

2-3, 5-7 further classes

  1. Make an information sheet to Eskimos on Thanksgiving. Summarize all you’ve learnt about it and you think is important to know.
  1. Letter strings. Find and circle 7 English words in each line.




  1. Word recognition. Find and circle the words with the same spellings.
  2. celebrate

celebrate        celebrated        celebration        celebrity

  1. government

governing        governments        governers        government

  1. religious

religion            religiousness        religious        religions

  1. Home assignment

Read the texts again and look up new words. (students need to get all 3 texts)

Search the net:

What happens at Thanksgiving in the White House nowadays?

How long did the journey to America take back then? How long is it nowadays?

What’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yam?

Can you think of a similar secular holiday in Hungary?

  1. We are going to organize a Thanksgiving party on 24th November. Design a menu for this event.
  1. Creative writing:
  2. A) you are a Native American. Write an 80 word diary entry about December 4th 1619.
  3. B) you are one of the Pilgrim Fathers write an 80 word diary entry about January 29th 1619.
  1. Dramatize the story of Thanksgiving: Students can choose music they like for each scene