The Night Before Thanksgiving

The Night Before Thanksgiving?

In reality that would be when I starve myself in order to be ready for the gluttony that lies ahead. But maybe that is just me.

One of my favorite stories to do with my littles is the old poem The Night Before Thanksgiving {author unknown} This is not to be confused with the story 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by, Dav Pilkey which is another fun one for this time of year.

This story/poem is one I learned from my master teacher when I was student teaching and it has become one of those activities that is just special and holds many memories. However, that wouldn't be enough to keep it in my arsenal of tricks... oh no. I have revamped it many-a-times since my student teaching days and am happy to say it hits on several Common Core Standards.. and I am also happy to say it is FREE!

First of all... here is the poem:

The Night Before Thanksgiving

The night before thanksgiving when I had gone to bed,
I heard three turkey gobblers and this is what they said:
The first turkey said, "I think that I will go--
and hide behind a haystack, where no one will know."

The second turkey said, "I think I'll find a tree--
and hide up in the branches where no one will see."

The third turkey said, "I think it would be fun--
to take the farmer's hatchet, then run, run, run!"

Then on Thanksgiving morning when the farmer looked around,
those three turkey gobblers could not be found!"

I love to use this story for retelling {Common Core standard RL.K.2/ RL.1.2} but it is also good practice for ordinal numbers and sight words {I have the kiddos search the story for all the words they know.} And of course.... rhyming practice.... because we just can't get enough of that.

After hearing the poem/story many times the little ones get to make their own. Each child will get
*Their own copy of the story {this is glued onto an envelope which will keep all the pieces together}
*The 3 turkeys, a haystack, a tree and a hatchet

I like to do it this way because the kiddos are excited about having all the pieces as props for the retell. They set them up {as shown above} to be ready to start and as they tell the story they hide the turkey behind the haystack and tree. And the third turkey grabs the hatchet and I have them put it behind their back {to imitate the run, run, run.}

While we are chatting about the hatchet real fast. I find this to be an excellent vocabulary lesson since this will be a new word for them and they will want to call it an axe {and maybe even a synonym lesson} but I know some people see this as a weapon and is therefore not acceptable. I can understand that and have thought about it myself, but this is one of those poems from long ago and I have never had a problem with having a hatchet in the poem, but use your best judgment for your class and community.

Last year, my little ones weren't as good with keeping pieces organized {not that any of them are experts at it..nor is their teacher that organized} but I just thought that group wouldn't get much retell practice in if we had too many little things to keep track of..... so....

I put the kids into cooperative groups {about 10 groups of 3 kids... yes, I have 30!} and each group made one page of the story. I put the pages together for a giant book for our classroom library. I don't have any pictures of that... just one of my sample:

The only problem with the class book version is this:
Their families don't get any of the fun! Let me tell you - I ask my little ones to retell this story to their families on Thanksgiving Day! I make it a BIG deal... you have homework to share this tale with your family.... and they do! And I have had several parents tell me that the entire family got to enjoy a "show."

Plus, the kiddos are so comfortable with the story that by the time it goes home they think they can read it.

So if you think this is something you want to incorporate in your classroom, just hop on over to Teachers Pay Teachers and download it for FREE!


  1. LOVE this freebie! Thanks for sharing :)

    Lucky to Be in First

  2. Mrs. Marjorie Born's kindergarten class from Kaiser Elementary, sang this live on OETA TV here in Oklahoma City way back in 1957. My part was the first line and I always remembered it. Thanks for posting this.