Thanksgiving Vocabulary Words

Design Puzzles, Worksheets, and Activities for Your Students Using This List

A full plate at Thanksgiving dinner symbolizes American abundance, belonging, and identity.
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This comprehensive Thanksgiving vocabulary word list can be used in the classroom in so many ways. Use it for word walls, word searches, puzzles, bingo games, crafts, worksheets, story starters, creative writing word banks, and other engaging activities to draw your students into the Thanksgiving season and teach them about the holiday. Elementary lesson plans for almost any subject can be created using this complete word list.

Preparing to Teach

Because Thanksgiving is traditionally a holiday dedicated to food and togetherness, many Thanksgiving-related words describe these topics. You can use themes of food, gratitude, and celebration as inspiration for creative pursuits and even teach your students about the first feast to build their historical knowledge along with their vocabulary.

Some Thanksgiving words are related to historical interactions between Native Americans and European colonists. If you choose to spend time talking about these, be sure to do so with great discretion—avoid perpetuating misconceptions about the dynamic between pilgrims and Native Americans without going into grisly details.

Certain words from this list will be unfamiliar to students because they are outdated. You may choose to use these to draw comparisons between how Americans celebrated the holiday in the past and how it is celebrated today. Comparing and contrasting American practices during Thanksgiving with Thanksgiving and harvest holidays in other cultures is also a great option.

Thanksgiving Vocabulary Word List

Go through as many of these words with your students as you want them to learn and provide plenty of opportunities for practice. Incorporate these into fun and familiar routines that you already know your students love or use this season of change to try new activities and shake things up.

  • acorns
  • America
  • apple pie
  • autumn
  • bake
  • baste
  • bread
  • canoe
  • carve
  • casserole
  • celebrate
  • centerpiece
  • cider
  • colonists
  • cook
  • corn
  • cornbread
  • cornucopia
  • cranberries
  • delicious
  • dessert
  • dinner
  • dish
  • dressing
  • drumstick
  • eat
  • fall
  • family
  • feast
  • giblets
  • gobble
  • grandparents
  • gratitude
  • gravy
  • ham
  • harvest
  • holiday
  • home
  • leaves
  • leftovers
  • maze
  • maize
  • Massachusetts
  • Mayflower
  • meal
  • nap
  • napkin
  • Native Americans
  • New World
  • November
  • orchard
  • oven
  • pans
  • parade
  • pecan
  • pie
  • pilgrims
  • plantation
  • planting
  • plate
  • platter
  • Plymouth
  • pots
  • pumpkin
  • Puritans
  • recipe
  • religion
  • roast
  • rolls
  • sail
  • sauce
  • seasons
  • serve
  • settlers
  • sleep
  • snow
  • squash
  • stir
  • stuffing
  • sweet potatoes
  • tablecloth
  • thankful
  • Thanksgiving
  • Thursday
  • tradition
  • travel
  • tray
  • treaty
  • turkey
  • vegetables
  • voyage
  • winter
  • wishbone
  • yams

Vocabulary-Building Activities

If you're not sure where to start but know that you want your students to learn Thanksgiving words, start with these time-tested projects.

  • Word Walls: A word wall is always a great place to start. Use large letters in an optimal location to make new vocabulary words visible to students at any time. Explicitly teach the meaning and application of each new word, then give your students several exciting chances to use them.
  • Word Search Puzzles: Create your own word search puzzle or use an online puzzle generator. If you choose to use an automatic puzzle generator, be sure to choose one that allows you to customize according to school policies, lesson objectives, etc. For example, if your school strictly prohibits religious teaching, modify your puzzle to exclude these words.
  • Sight-Word Flashcards: Improve vocabulary for early elementary students with sight-word flashcards. Using seasonal words makes these otherwise tedious exercises fun and festive. Flashcards used intentionally and often can greatly memory retention.
  • Poem or Story Word Bank: Randomly select a handful of Thanksgiving words for students to incorporate into a story. This will build vocabulary and writing skills alike. Make this a daily routine around the Thanksgiving season to get the most out of this exercise.
  • Bingo: Create a bingo board that features 24 Thanksgiving words (with the middle space "free"). Rather than simply asking students if they have a word, use definitions or fill-in-the-blanks to make students think. For example, say, "This is what we called the people who were in America first," for "Native Americans".