The Perfect PBL for After Thanksgiving

Happy post-Thanksgiving to you Dear Teacher!

I realize Thanksgiving hasn’t quite happened yet, but your Thanksgiving planning will soon come to an end. So here’s the big question: What do you do as your November winds down, and what do you do with your time? Here’s a PBL activity that will last your students into December!

The Plan

Start a plan with having students reflect on what they are thankful for. Have them write in their journals 3-5 sentences on what they are thankful for. You can also have them do a graphic organizer, collage, the sky’s the limit.

We did a cornucopia activity where the students drew items they were thankful for and wrapped them up in a cornucopia.

After they’ve completed their thankful assignments, remind them that there are others who don’t have everything they have. It is for this reason that many people give back around this time of year.

Put your students in groups and have them come up with a way to benefit others. Where possible, facilitate research for them to find information independently.

The Goal

Have each group set a goal for their project. Do they want to do a drive and collect a certain number of something? Maybe their goal is to make one person at a nursing home smile. One year we took our first graders to a nursing home and they were paired up with an adoptive grandparent to spend time with. The kids made cards for their adoptive grandparents. You should have seen the smiles on the faces of the children as well as their elders. It was priceless!

Have each student create a goal board/poster/card that he or she can keep at his or her desk. This is a great reminder of what each team is working towards. If your teams want to set multiple goals, awesome! Let them.

The Work

Encourage your teams to make a To-Do list and a Supply list. From here they will map out their to-do list on a calendar. Have teams delegate a leader, secretary, supply manager, and liaison. Any extra team members will be floaters, helping where needed. The secretary will need to have good typing/writing skills to write tasks on the calendar and copy the lists. The supply manager will be in charge of getting everything that’s needed on the list. The liaison should be a people person. He or she will be the one writing letters/making calls to anyone the team needs help from(ie: coordinators at charities, nursing homes, etc.)

The Assessment

Journals are a great assessment! Have your students keep one with their experiences. They will need to create a budget(even if it’s imaginary). Have them estimate expenses based on research, then get actual numbers from real people. If students are asking for donations instead of money, have them calculate advertising costs. You will act as the bank and give them a “loan.” If you can find money in the budget to actually work through these scenarios, even better!

What if I Have Younger Students?

Younger students will need more guidance, however they will surprise you with their great ideas!  The best way to simplify this for young children is to do a project as a whole class. You walk them through it, supporting where you need to. Still, see what they can do on their own. They can certainly keep a journal and draw pictures of what the class decides to do to help others. You can host a food drive such as Operation Turkey or collect gifts for ToysforTots. There is probably something you could look into doing for your community. Check with your guidance counselor at your school.

Do you have questions? Ideas of your own? We’d love to hear them! Feel free to comment below.

Want Concrete Steps to Help You Master Student Literacy in 15 Minutes a Day? CLICK HERE NOW!


Have a great turkey day!

Pam and Brittany

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