Thanksgiving Writing Lesson Plan: Create a Thanksgiving Class Book Using Explanatory Paragraphs

Capture students’ attention this fall by turning them into Thanksgiving authors. Kids are experts on holiday fun and are anxious to share their knowledge with everyone. Capitalize on your class’ turkey-fever by publishing a Thanksgiving how-to book.

Grade Level

Third Grade and Above


Students will write a complete explanatory paragraph explaining the steps of preparing a Thanksgiving dish.


  • Bread, peanut butter, jelly, plate, knife
  • Lined paper
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  • Turkey-shaped sugar cookies and apple cider


Day 1

  1. Introduce how-to paragraphs by asking the class if they know how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
  2. As they answer, write the steps as sentences on the board. Talk about what an explanatory paragraph is; note aloud and underline transition words such as, first, next and last. Use the paragraph the class has written to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  3. As you encounter problems or ambiguity in the paragraph model revising the paragraph using the think-aloud method.
  4. Review what a how-to or explanatory paragraph is on the board and have students take notes.

Day 2

  1. Explain to the class that they will be creating a Thanksgiving How-To Book.
  2. Assign Thanksgiving dinner topics to the students; differentiate instruction by giving students topics that are conducive to their ability levels.
  3. Have students research and outline their paragraphs.
  4. Check the outlines and have the students begin writing rough drafts of their paragraphs. They should finish the paragraphs for homework.

Day 3

  1. Pair the students and have them proofread each others paragraphs.
  2. On the board, note specifics they should check for while proofreading. Have them edit for spelling, punctuation, capital letters, and complete sentences. Tell them to make sure that the paragraph makes sense, contains correct transition words, and that the steps are in order and all the steps are there.
  3. Provide time for the pairs to conference with each other and explain positives and negatives of the paragraphs.
  4. Have the students rewrite the paragraph for homework.

Day 4

  1. Collect the completed paragraphs and make copies of each for everyone in the class.
  2. As a class create a title for the book.
  3. Have each student design a title page for his/her book.
  4. List the all of the paragraph topics on the board and show students how to create a table of contents.
  5. Pass out the how-to paragraph pages and have everyone assemble their books.
  6. Create a copy of the book to be placed in the classroom library.
  7. For homework, have the students practice reading aloud the paragraph they have written.

Day 5

  1. Invite guests (the principal, parents, teacher with free periods) to a book reading.
  2. Have students read their paragraphs for the group.
  3. Congratulate the class with a celebration of apple cider and turkey-shaped sugar cookies.

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