Turkey day is almost here, and let's be honest, the kiddos are thinking more about those two precious weekdays of freedom than they are about the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. But that shouldn't stop you from putting together the most talked-about school assembly of the year! Interactive assembly ideas can inspire elementary school, middle school or high school students to truly learn and grow. And with that in mind, you'll need a bountiful buffet (or dare we say cornucopia?) of imaginative ideas.
Thanksgiving is much more than pumpkin pies, marshmallow-topped yam casseroles, football games and super-sized sales on TVs, appliances and toys that your family probably doesn't really need anyway. Aside from its national holiday status, Thanksgiving is quite literally a time to give thanks. That's why we've put together a list of assembly ideas you'll thank us for!
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But seriously, we know your top priority is education. From the historical context of the day to the social implications of giving thanks, these school assembly ideas will jump-start one of your most experiential, interactive and inspirational lesson plans yet!
Time travel back to Plymouth
What was life like in the 1600s? Life for the first pilgrims in Plymouth was very different from what young people experience today. While elementary school or even high school students can guess what the very first autumn harvest meal was like for kiddos, tweens and teens in the 17th century, they may still need your help to learn about everyday life.
Travel back in time with an interactive school assembly program! Involve the students in a pre-performance historical art-making session and have them help the school's staff to create a set for the Thanksgiving assembly. Use cardboard, old boxes, craft paints and more to remake the first homes of Plymouth. The assembly presenters can dress in costume and tour the set in this immersive educational experience.
Don't stop the time-traveling fun at the assembly. Have the students dress as pilgrims for a lunchtime Thanksgiving meal at "Plymouth cafeteria."
Read letters of thanks
What are your students thankful for right now? Giving thanks isn't something young people think about constantly. But this doesn't mean primary school students, middle school students or high schoolers don't feel a sense of gratitude in their lives.
Ask each student to pen their own "What am I thankful for?" letter. Have the faculty choose a few poignant pieces to highlight. Allow students who don't feel comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts and feelings publicly to submit their letters anonymously. Read the letters at the Thanksgiving assembly.
Film thankful Thanksgiving videos
Add a layer of tech time to the assembly and ask some students to turn their letters of thanks into mini cinematic masterpieces. Sep up a gratitude list lesson and turn it into an interactive film project. After selecting a few meaningful letters, encourage the students to translate their written words into big-screen scripts.
Older students in middle school or high school can film their thankful movies on smartphones, edit the clips and present the video pieces at the Thanksgiving assembly. This living-art option takes traditional holiday skits to a whole new level, encourages teamwork and provides the whole school with a meaningful assembly presentation.
Not sure how to present a seemingly random string of kid-created clips? Make a video montage of the cinematic letters set to music!
Stage a variety show
Not just any variety show — a Thanksgiving-themed variety show for the entire school. Students of all grade levels can perform as individuals or teams during this immersive auditorium assembly. Younger elementary schoolers can dress up as turkeys and sing Thanksgiving songs, while older tweens and teens create their own interpretive holiday dances, recite poetry that speaks to the idea of thankfulness or perform reenactment skits of Abraham Lincoln proclaiming the very first official national Thanksgiving holiday.
Hold a food drive fundraiser
The table topped with turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and at least three types of yams is a Thanksgiving experience for many American families. But so is a holiday with an empty fridge and empty stomachs. Invite speakers from local food banks and similar charities to speak to your middle and high school students about food scarcity.
The pros from these types of organizations know how to reach young people on their level and help them to understand the importance of giving to others. Follow the assembly with a Thanksgiving-themed food drive fundraiser for the school children to participate in.
Now that we've got you brainstorming creative school-day assembly ideas, go ahead and infuse your own brand of educational magic into the final product. And if you're also searching for a way to get a school filled with smartphone-addicted young people up, active and out into the brisk November air, get sporty and sponsor a teachers vs. students Turkey Bowl!