It’s November and Thanksgiving is definitely on the minds of our local preschool and daycare teachers. We always get requests for Thanksgiving storytimes this month, so I wanted to share some storytime ideas today in case you need a little inspiration! I know every librarian and library is different when it comes to planning a holiday-themed storytime (and that’s great!), but I hope I’ve got a little something for everyone here.
- All for Pie, Pie for All by David Martin, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev (Candlewick Press, 2006) – This book doesn’t really have anything to do with Thanksgiving except that pie is something that is traditionally eaten and it’s a sweet story about sharing food with family and friends.
- Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2012) – This entry in the Bear series has all the woodland creatures coming together to share a meal and appreciate each other.
- Feeling Thankful by Shelley Rotner and Sheila Kelly (Milbrook Press, 2000) – Again, this book doesn’t necessarily feature Thanksgiving, but it talks about many things children might be thankful for and it can start a great conversation about the things your storytime kids are thankful for.
- I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson, illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner (Puffin, 1997) – This twist on the traditional song features Thanksgiving foods from pie to cider to squash to turkey. This could make a great prop song, too.
- I’m a Turkey! by Jim Arnosky (Scholastic, 2009) – In true Arnosky style, this nonfiction picture book details the life of a wild turkey. No turkeys are turned into dinner here.
- My First Thanksgiving by Tomie DePaola (Putnam Juvenile, 1992) – This very simple board book explains the first Thanksgiving in succinct text. This might make a good introduction to the holiday or you may feel that it oversimplifies, depending on what age you’re targeting.
- Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr, illustrated by Laura Rader (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2007) – In this book, turkey knows the farmer is after him and tries to disguise himself as other farm animals to escape being cooked for Thanksgiving dinner.
- Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, illustrated by Doris Barrette (HarperCollins, 2004) – This is another book that lists (in rhyming couplets) things kids might be thankful for, but this one is definitely set at Thanksgiving.
- ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic, 1990) – Mimicking the traditional ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, this story has a class taking a field trip to a turkey farm where they start feeling sorry for the turkeys they will soon be eating for Thanksgiving. It’s a little longer, so I usually use this one with our school-age groups.
Turkey Feathers. You can add the feathers one at a time, talking about the colors and then counting them at the end. Or you can hand out different colored feathers to each child and have them bring up the feather as you call the color.
Thanksgiving Colors. This is an idea adapted from Melissa Deppers’ Red, White, and Blue flannel. As you put the pieces on the board: “Here we have a red heart… and a red apple… and a red PUMPKIN!” At this point, the kids will surely pipe up to correct you and you move the orange item down to the next row and start again… until you get to the turkey at the end, which has all the colors.
Both of these flannel activities provide great practice with colors. Before you start Turkey Feathers, you might find a photo of a real turkey and point out the tail and feathers. And doing Thanksgiving Colors also provides practice with same & different.
Five Nervous Turkeys. I am so sad that I don’t have a source for this one because it is super duper cute. (If you know where this song comes from, please let me know!)
Start with five turkeys on your flannel mitt and sing the following song:
To the tune of “My Bonnie”
5 (4, 3, 2, 1) turkeys were getting quite nervous.
Thanksgiving Day soon would be back.
So one turkey put on a duck suit,
(Take one turkey off, put one duck on.)
And now he says, “Gobble, quack, quack!”
- If You’re Thankful and You Know It, Clap Your Hands. You might want to lead into this one by talking about what everyone is thankful for. Of course we’re thankful for our library and our library kids!
- The Turkey Pokey (put your wing in, your beak, your claw, your tail, etc.). This also provides an opportunity to talk about turkey body parts and how they’re different from people body parts! Example: “We have a hand, does a turkey have a hand? A turkey has a beak, what do we have?”
For more flannel and prop stories, don’t miss Flannel Friday’s Thanksgiving Pinterest board!
You can find additional Thanksgiving storytime plans at:
- Rain Makes Applesauce
- Storytime Secrets
- Storytime Source Page
- Sunflower Storytime
- SurLaLune Storytime
- What Happens in Storytime
At Mel’s Desk, Melissa Depper has a list of books about gratitude.
Preschool Thanksgiving lesson plans:
Stretched for materials on Thanksgiving and turkeys? Consider adding stories or activities about food or love and kindness.
These are some of the books and activities we have used; what are your favorite books, songs, or activities for Thanksgiving (or non-holiday alternatives)?
— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN