I want to share a favorite project once in a while, and this is one I did again and again. I admit that this is not my idea, but one from a colleague, and I am so glad she shared. You may need some time to think about it because it is a Thanksgiving project, to write before that holiday. FYI-I did it, too.
Celebrating Thanksgiving can be a small family-only time, or a wider one with family, friends, those who are invited because one knows they are alone. It can be different, serving at a shelter. Yet if you are at one home, usually you know who is going to be "at the table". I often gave students room to imagine, in all curriculum areas. How else will they learn to problem-solve if they cannot imagine?
At my school, an independent one, a special half day occurs on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, one that has become "Grandpeople's Day." Grandparents and other family come into town for this holiday, so it's a great time to visit their grandchildren's school. They are given tours of all the school with our volunteer tour guides, then end up visiting in the classrooms, some for a short while in order to move from each grandchild's classroom. Each teacher does something different for sharing with the guests, not only grandparents, but neighbors, aunts and uncles, cousins, too.
One assignment I gave the week previous for sharing on Grandpeople's Day is this: Imagine that you can invite anyone as a guest to your Thanksgiving table. Choose three to six plus one guest of honor. In this assignment, name those invited, why you chose each one, and write a few sentences, or more if needed, of what you might say to that person.
The challenge for the teacher is what limits might be placed. Will you say that the people must be a mix from history, characters from a book, cartoon characters, ancestors? Or will you say anyone is okay, like a friend who's moved away, a favorite family member who cannot be with you, etc.? I bring this up because my students were varied in their choices, from those with serious history passions choosing people like Cleopatra, Adolph Hitler, and Malcolm X to lovers of super heroes like Batman and Wonder Woman. Also, many chose grandparents or great-grandparents they never met, special cartoon characters or even best friends. I did push for variety, but really it was their choice, and they wowed me every time with their choices and why.
I also varied the number depending on other things happening in the class at the time. It doesn't have to be many; three is plenty. The best thing that connected this assignment to Grand-People's Day is when our visitors came, we sat in the living area and shared the choices, the whys and the words that would be said. Then I invited the visitors to share one person they would invite. It was a pleasure for us to hear their choices, too, a wonderful thing to connect for this one-time-only gathering.