The truly hard part about finding a good Thanksgiving lesson plan for Spanish class is that none of them seem to be about Spanish speakers…or have Latinx culture whatsoever. Finally in 2019 I decided to see if there was something better than doing verb turkey crafts.
I found out that there’s a large tradition in Puerto Rico of people who celebrate Día de Acción de Gracias – BAYUM! Perfect for Spanish class. I asked a few Puerto Rican friends what they liked to make, did some research, and created a reading for my Spanish 2s:
Thanksgiving in Spanish Class
Another dilemma of finding a good Thanksgiving lesson plan for Spanish class is that this holiday is right before a break.
It brings up the question: to work or not to work on days before break? Here’s my opinion, but I’m also eager to hear your take on this. I’ve tried it both ways, and this is what I think for both elementary and high school students.
The Day Before Thanksgiving Break – What Should Be Your Lesson Plan?
School of thought #1 for high school teachers (and maybe others): lots of students miss this day because they travel/see family during the break. Still true during covid times. In my old department, we used to plan easier days on purpose so that students wouldn’t miss new content. We would specifically look for simple, engaging reviews.
School of thought #2: School days before breaks are more meaningful when they are treated like regular lessons. My thought process changed on this when I went to an interview at one of the highest performing elementary schools in my area.
It was the very last day of school, so I expected classrooms to be lax and very open. Kids wandering everywhere gathering their things, like it was in the high school environments I taught in. On the front lawn, it was field day — but only for an hour. Then students went into all their completely normal routines. Reading circles, morning meetings, vocabulary and math lessons, the works!
That’s the first time I changed my stance on pre-holiday lessons. From then on, I tried to make days before breaks just as significant as any other day of the year. (Except for the last day of school in high school –that ship has sailed & no one shows up anyways 🤣)
So I beefed up this reading to include activities and made it a robust Thanksgiving lesson plan for Spanish class. My way of making the two worlds meet was doing the reading and activities over several days so that students who missed the last day could always finish them at home or the week we returned.
Thanksgiving Activities for Spanish Class
Now, let’s look at exactly what your Accion de Gracias en Puerto Rico lesson plan could look like.
I have one ready-made for you, click any of the pictures or captions to check out the full features of theThanksgiving lesson plan for Spanish class about Puerto Rican traditions! You can also make a version of these Thanksgiving activities yourself.
Here’s how I made it so that you can follow the same steps:
How I Created this Puerto Rico Culture Unit:
- I searched on Youtube for Acción de Gracias videos for Puerto Rico
- I searched for authentic Puerto Rico recipes for Acción de Gracias
- I made follow-up activities to go with the videos, recipes, and articles I chose
- I created a word bank based on the information I found
- I wrote a short reading using high-frequency verbs about the basic traditions that many Puerto Ricans have in common during Thanksgiving
- I did follow-up research on why many Puerto Ricans also find this tradition very controversial and promoting of colonized ideals (an important perspective to present, especially around a holiday like Thanksgiving that glosses over things like Indigenous perspectives + their experiences with genocide.)
- I found tons of interesting information about how the infamous Hurricane Maria ruined Thanksgiving 2017 for many Puerto Ricans. This would be a great research opportunity for your students
- I created 6 follow-up activities for students to choose between – see the full list below
This is everything this lesson plan includes for you. You can also replicate the same process for your class with some dedicated searching.
My Thanksgiving Spanish Lesson
Here’s what my full Thanksgiving lesson plan for Spanish class includes:
DAY 1 – First, complete reading in groups or pairs after going over word bank and super 7 verbs with teacher. Then watch some video clips on youtube for Puerto Rican recipes like Pavochón (their delicious version of Turkey! If you make this, please post your recipe in the comments, I’d love to see it!)
DAY 2 – First, review reading, and ask students to write their own sentences to summarize the reading in fewer sentences as a class, kinda like a story activity. Next, ask each pair to write a sentence and compile a paragraph-10 sentences as a class. Last, search some of the mentioned recipes in Google images and see if the class can name them, then interpret some of the recipes.
DAY 3 – First, have students choose 2 of the 6 following activities, plus complete the venn diagram in Spanish comparing their Thanksgiving traditions to that of Puerto Rico.
1. Create a menu based on the dishes served in Puerto Rico
2. Draw a postcard of explaining the traditions to a friend
3. Draw a plate of typical plates served in Puerto Rico
4. Compare and contrast your Thanksgiving day with Puerto Rico
5. Research the history and geography of Puerto Rico
6. Research the effects of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico’s Thanksgiving in 2017
Lastly, I would finish out Day 3 with watching 2-3 clips from the news of Hurricane Maria coverage in PR to see the impact in real time of what happened to Thanksgiving. Wrap up with time for reflection writing or discussion in English about the social implications of that kind of environmental disaster.
Acción de Gracias Digital Activity
If you’d like a digital version of this Acción de Gracias activity, find it here. It includes all of the activities plus an updated list of youtube videos, recipes, and other goodies.
Free Spanish Teacher Resources and Articles!
Now that you have your lesson plans set up, let’s talk resources. I have a feeling that if you’re reading this, you’re into all things Spanish classroom! If so, I have some helpful posts and freebies for you to make teaching Spanish for proficiency easier – check it out!
Blog Posts for Spanish Teachers
- Day of the Dead Activities for Spanish Class | Día de los Muertos
- Día de la Raza Activities for Spanish Class
- Spanish 1 Curriculum Class
- Virtual Field Trips for Spanish Class
- Día de la Raza Ideas
- 7 Free Spanish Resources for Teachers
- Songs for Spanish Class | Hispanic Heritage Month Activities and Music
- Afro-latinx Leaders for Spanish Class
- How I Started A Spanish Classroom Library for Free
Learn how to transition to proficiency
Last but not least, I have my favorite free resource for Spanish teachers. This lovingly crafted guide has everything the modern world language teacher needs, including steps on curriculum mapping and how to transition to proficiency.
Have you ever wished the transition to proficiency were easier to do? Grab the FREE toolkit here to learn the framework for updating your practice to comprehensible input – without all the overwhelm – and prepare for the challenges ahead.
Free Professional Development for World Language
Ooooh oooh wait I have one more for you! Join the Facebook group for like-minded world language teachers who love having fun and teaching for proficiency through CI!
Now that you’ve seen my lesson plans and resources for Thanksgiving in Spanish class, I’m dying to know two things: how do you prefer to handle the days before break in Spanish class? Do you celebrate Acción de Gracias with Pavochón or any of these traditions? Share in the comments below!
Rooting for you,