Give thanks and eat pie
Most students will have heard of Thanksgiving and most probably watched movies related to this celebration. They would know about eating turkey and the traditional pumpkin pie.
As they do in Canada and USA, the second Monday of October or the fourth Thursday of November may be a good time in your calendar for this Thanksgiving activity. The proposal is based on the original idea of «Giving thanks«.
I like to begin with brainstorm activities like (a) asking students how many English expressions they can use to say Thank you or to respond to Thank you’s, (b) listening carefully to what they know about the celebrations, (c) giving examples of things they are thankful for, (d) sharing whether they have moments in their lives or during the day when they say Thank you for a special something that they have received.
Then slowly and gradually get the writing activity introduced by saying they will be asked to write a Thank you note. They are going to watch this video and imagine they are that person who walks toward the yellow letter box in the film and puts their envelope in it.
Before they begin the activity or even at the beginning of the lesson you might like to do a simple Mindfulness practice consisting of just sitting still for three minutes, focusing on their breathing and visualising a time when they felt thankful, what they were thankful for, if somebody was involved or did they just feel thankful for something less specific, more general, etc.
Then play the video and invite them to recreate that moment when they felt thankful, before they begin to write their notes. Allow some time after the music for them to put down some ideas and begin writing (at this stage it is an individual task). When they have finished, they can share their experiences in small groups. Someone might even like to share with the rest of the group.
To top up this Thanksgiving activity you may want to offer some pumpkin pie before they go!
For more engaged students you might like to propose a follow-up activity to do at home and if you find it a bit «daring» do not hesitate to contact me for some emotional intelligence strategies for the ESL classroom which I would be delighted to share.
La vida, sin prisa