Mimi and the Grands

Educating Through Multiple Intelligences

More Thanksgiving Books: A Unit Study

I  have a great fondness for Thanksgiving. While I do decorate my house somewhat for Halloween, I can’t wait to get out my cornucopias, turkey pillows, gourd candles, and pilgrim dolls in anticipation of this great holiday. So obviously I love to teach my grandsons about Thanksgiving with books and other multiple intelligence activities. I have done blog posts on Thanksgiving books before, but this year I chose some different books from the local library and planned activities for the grands: Tigger (8), Kona (6), and Tahoe (4).

While I will use the books as the “center” of this unit study, I will include activities so that all eight intelligences are incorporated sometime during the course of the unit. Since I have more time with Tahoe, he will have more opportunities to participate in a larger variety of activities. (Tigger and Kona have school and homework, so they may not have a chance to do as many activities.) I will include pictures as we complete some of the these activities. Within this post, I will also mention any academic focus I plan on integrating into any of the activities.

During the past two years, I have written other Thanksgiving blog posts featuring different books than are mentioned here. If you would like to read these blogs, they can be found here:



Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)

Read and discuss books- I normally get my books from the library. I always discuss the pictures, captions, and any new vocabulary as I read along with the grands, but I have an additional academic focus for each book as well:

Nonfiction: Thanksgiving by Ann Heinrichs is actually a combination of historical background, poetry, and activities for children about Thanksgiving. Some of the poems included in the book are “Thanksgiving Comes Again,” “The Pilgrims Came,” “At Grandma’s House,” and “Over the River and Through the Wood.” The book has whimsical illustrations as well. Since this is a non-fiction book, it additionally includes text features such as a Table of Contents, Glossary, and Index. Academic focus:  Rhyming–As I read the poems to the grands, I will have them identify the rhyming words. Text Features: Besides showing the grands the Table of Contents, Glossary, and Index, I will model for them how I would use the index to find certain topics within the book (such as the location of the poems, information about corn, the Plymouth Colony etc.) Thanksgiving by Lisa M. Herrington and A Short History of Thanksgiving by Sally Lee are both good books to provide basic Thanksgiving information about this holiday. They contain great photographs or illustrations that help explain the first Thanksgiving and how this holiday is celebrated today with parades, family dinners, and serving others. The last two books are easy enough for both Kona and Tigger to read aloud. Academic Focus: Compare and Contrast–How was the first Thanksgiving celebrated. What is similar and/or different about how we celebrate Thanksgiving in the present?

gobble-gobble-tuckerFiction: Gobble, Gobble, Tucker! by Leslie McGuirk tells the story of Tucker, the dog, who can tell just by the smell of a baking turkey that it is Thanksgiving. He loves hanging out around the kitchen where everyone is getting ready for the meal. Tucker is very helpful, as well, by keeping nearby in case someone drops some food. When visitors arrives he greets them and they give him belly rubs. His family doesn’t forget Tucker when they sit down to eat; he is given his own feast of yummy Thanksgiving food. This is the book that the grands wanted me to read over and over to them.  Academic Focus: Details–I’ll have the grands give me a few details from the story.

graces-thanksgivingGrace’s Thanksgiving by Lisa Bullard is another one of those books that is a combination of fiction and non-fiction. Grace is getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday by creating a “Thankful List.” The story about Grace and her family celebrating Thanksgiving is fictional, but the story is interspersed with information about this holiday, including other types of harvest feasts around the world and how Thanksgiving became a national holiday in the United States. The book  includes directions for making “Turkey Cookies” and a glossary. Academic Focus: Sequencing–What are the events that occurred that led to Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday?

over-the-river-and-through-the-woodsOver the River and Through the Wood: The New England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day by L. Maria Child and illustrated by Matt Tavares is one of those books that I think I will purchase for the grands because it is a book that I would love to share with them every Thanksgiving. Besides providing the wonderful verses of this traditional song, including some verses with which I was unfamiliar, the illustrations are magnificent! This book also is part of the Musical Intelligence since I will use it to teach the grands this song. Academic Focus: Rhyming–This is another great book to use to model or practice rhyming skills.

turkeys-we-have-loved-and-eatenRead Aloud:

Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff): Junie B. Jones #28  by Barbara Park tells the hilarious story of a classroom of first graders who are trying to write a “Thankful List” for a school contest and get ready for a Thanksgiving feast. I was able to find this title as an audiobook and we listened to it as I drove my grandsons home from school. Some parts of the book are “laugh out loud” funny and I enjoyed listening to the grandsons crack up over some of the dialogue in the story. Academic focus: Humor–The grands and I discussed the humor in the book and why certain parts of the story are funny.


Logical/Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)

Incorporating Other Activities: I like to incorporate math into the other activities we do with this unit.

  • For example, I will ask the grands to count the number of times we had to wind the yarn around one of the Yarn Sticks (see Spatial Intelligence). Counting practice is good for both Tahoe and Kona, but I would ask Tigger, who is in third grade, to figure out how many times we would have to wind yarn on one stick. Then I would show him it’s easier if you break the problem into smaller sections, such as how many turns of yarn is needed for one inch (have a ruler handy). Hint: the yarn’s thickness might match the 1/16 width or 1/8 width on the ruler to make the estimation easier to visualize. From there he can multiply the length of the stick by his one inch estimation (how many turns or winds for three sticks of equal length?).
  • Another idea would be to estimate the length of yarn needed to completely cover a stick.  I would give each grand their own stick and have them cut out a piece of yarn to the size they think would cover the stick. I would probably have both Kona and Tigger measure the length of yarn in centimeters as well. Finally, they would use the yarn they cut to cover their stick and see how well they estimated the amount of yarn they would need.

 Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)

  • Using the book (see Linguistic Intelligence) about the song “Over the River and Through the Wood,” I will teach the grands a few of the verses.
  • I will also have the grands listen to/learn these hymns: “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,” and “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow.”

Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart)

Cooking with Cranberries: I will have the grands make whole berry cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries, sugar and water. The recipe is simple:

  1. Place 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. Empty the contents of a 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries into the saucepan.
  3. Continue to boil gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Cool at room temperature and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.

Other variations of this recipe can be found at: http://www.oceanspray.com/Recipes/Corporate/Sauces,-Sides-Salads/Fresh-Cranberry-Sauce.aspx

Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)

how-to-draw-thanksgiving-thingsDrawing: When asking my grandsons to draw pictures, I have often heard from them, “But I don’t know how to draw a….” so I often find books or online videos that provide simple directions on drawing familiar items. I happened to find the book How to Draw: Thanksgiving Things at the library and have used it to help my grandsons gain some drawing skills. Tigger has enjoyed drawing items from the book, while Tahoe prefers drawing from  step by step videos I found online. I used some of these drawing for the Centerpiece project explained below.

Craft projects: The grands love to do art projects, and I love to decorate for Thanksgiving, so I try to choose projects that can be used to adorn the house for the holiday.

Yarn Sticks: For the first project, I bought multi-colored yarn and had my grandsons find sticks (which also makes this part of the Naturalist Intelligence). The grands wrapped the sticks with the yarn, using glue to keep the yarn from unraveling. I happened to find a nice wine basket and decorative autumn leaf piece on clearance at our local craft store. I placed the sticks and autumn leaf piece in the wine basket to make a nice door hanging for Thanksgiving. I got the original idea for the Yarn Sticks from this blog: http://babbledabbledo.com/easy-crafts-for-kids-yarn-sticks/

Centerpiece: I used the ideas from the yarn sticks and drawings my grandsons had created to decorate an old terracotta pot we had at the house. First Tigger cleaned up the pot. Then Kona wrapped yarn around the “lip” of the pot. Then I took some of the grands drawings (I had to reduce some of them on the copier to make them fit the pot) and decoupaged them on the pot. I added a colorful plant to the pot to complete the centerpiece.

Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart)

Thankful for Family: This is something that the family already does before the Thanksgiving dinner, but I want the grands to think about this more frequently. Whether they are eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, asking each grand to describe how they are thankful for members of the family is a great way to remind the grands that family is very important in their lives.

Dramatic play: I will engage the grands in some dramatic play in which they dramatize the first Thanksgiving. This will tell me how much they have learned from all the books we have been reading about the beginnings of this holiday.

20161106_1147150Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart)

“Turkey” Horseshoes: This is somewhat similar to playing “Horse” with a basketball, but the object of the game is to spell “turkey” and it uses horseshoes instead. I will have the grands take turns throwing a horseshoe (can be plastic) at a post from a certain distance, determined by their ability. Each grand gets one throw per turn. They can add one letter from the word “turkey” each time they are successful in landing the horseshoe around the post. I want the game to continue until each grand has had the chance to spell out “turkey.”

 Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)

  • Thankful List: After reading these books, I will have the grands create their own individual “Thankful List.”
  • I leave the library books in a convenient place for the grandsons so they can browse or read them on their own.



I hope you are finding these Multiple Intelligence activities useful as you plan lessons for children in your care. If you would like to see more of these unit studies as I create them, you can become a follower of this blog.


I love to add my blog posts to link parties such as:






Thanksgiving Parade Book Study


This is a wonderful book about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This is a wonderful book about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

If you love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you may be interested in this wonderful book by Melissa Sweet: Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade.

It is tradition in our household to watch this parade while my husband and I are preparing the bird and stuffing on Thanksgiving morning. We passed along this tradition to our children and the grands are now old enough that I hope they will begin to understand our love for this parade.

I have always loved the parade’s balloons, but didn’t know the story behind them. Balloons Over Broadway explains how the tradition of balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began, and discusses a bit about engineering and puppetry too.

I designed this book study as a four day lesson plan. Besides reading the book daily to them, I planned to do two different activities a day. If you use this unit study, it is best to choose at least one activity from each intelligence, but you don’t have to do all of them. I usually list more than one activity for each intelligence so I have choices depending on the needs of each child:

Tigger (6) should be fascinated by the engineering aspect of the story, so I’ll make sure to include activities involving simple machines. He is working on two syllable words in reading and spelling, so I will include an activity using some of the two syllable words in the story.

Kona (4) should enjoy activities with simple machines and puppet making. He’ll work on blending skills using one syllable words with short vowel sounds.

Tahoe (2) will practice the letters of the alphabet in the title. He will probably enjoy the balloon puppets and may enjoy an activity using simple machines. I’ll spend a lot of time on the pictures in the story to develop his vocabulary.

Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)

  • Read the story daily. Discuss the pictures as well for comprehension and vocabulary development.
  • Syllabication: Using a few words from the story, discuss how to divide some double consonant words into two syllables. Word for this activity might include: shoppers, nodding, puppets, and balloons.
  • As you read aloud, stop at a few one syllable words with short vowels and work on blending the individual sounds together to decode the word.
  • Learn or recite the “Humpty Dumpty” nursery rhyme. (This was Kona’s idea. In the story, there is an illustration of Humpty Dumpty.)

Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)

  • Make a Parade Balloon (Animals or Thanksgiving themed)-This activity requires at least three helium balloons. I had Tahoe create a cat face using construction paper and dot paint. Then we glued the face to one balloon and tied the other two helium balloons together with it to keep the face aloft. This activity can then go along with the “Parade” idea listed under the Bodily-Kinesthetic section.
The construction paper weighs down one helium balloon too much. I had to tie two other helium balloons to the one with the construction paper face to keep it floating.

The construction paper weighs down one helium balloon too much. I had to tie two other helium balloons to the one with the construction paper face to keep it floating.

  • Watch the actual parade (or record it and show portions of it). My daughter found this link to print a bingo game while the grands watched the parade:  printables.familyeducation.com/thanksgiving-printables/thanksgiving-activities-and-traditions/72954.html
  • Put stickers on air filled balloons to look like animals and tie them with a string, or attach them to a stick.
  • Watch a video about Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Balloon Inflation:


Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart)

  • Improvise a puppet show with siblings or adults. Use puppets you already own, or create simple puppets with paper bags.
  • Play balloon volleyball with a sibling or adult using air-filled balloons. (We used a baby safety gate as our net, and had a spirited game with the three grands on one side and their father and I on the other side. I’m not sure who won, but we certainly had lots of giggles.)

Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)

  • Parade around the house with the balloons characters you made in the Spatial Intelligence section. (You could include the Musical Intelligence by playing “I Love a Parade” or other band music as you march.)
  • Give each child an air-filled balloon and have them count the number of times they can hit the balloon before it hits the ground. (This activity kept them very busy one night while I was making dinner.)

Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart)

  • Take your parade outside. Do you notice a difference with handling of your balloon outdoors compared to indoors?
  • Compare a helium balloon and air-filled balloon. Which gas would be best for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade? Which balloon would be easiest to step on and pop?

Logical/Mathematical (Number/Reasoning Smart)

  • Exploring pulleys: Have each child try to lift a heavy book (such as a hard bound dictionary). Then tie some string around the book, and drape the string over a rolling pin that someone else is holding. Pull on the loose end of the string to see if it is easier to lift the book. I found this idea, along with many others exploring simple machines, at this website:


  • Subtract 1924 (year of the very first Macy’s parade) from the current year.

Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)

  • Listen to song “I love a Parade” which is usually played at the introduction to the parade on television. (There are several versions that can be found on the Internet.)
  • Use any musical instruments you already own (or use a wooden spoon and a pot) and play along with some marching band music such as “”Seventy-six Trombones” from the musical Music Man or “March of the Wooden Soldiers” from the film Babes in Toyland.

Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)

  • Let child look over the book by self.
  • Let child play with puppets by themselves.

I’m hoping that after leading my grandsons through this book and multiple intelligence activities, they will continue the family tradition of watching this parade every Thanksgiving Day morning.

I hope you are finding these Multiple Intelligence activities useful as you plan lessons for children in your care. If you would like to see more of these unit studies as I create them, you can become a follower of this blog.


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