Teaching about and recognizing holidays and family traditions can be valuable to the kindergarten curriculum. Holidays are exciting and meaningful to kids, and learning about them together can be a way to foster connections. Thanksgiving, though, can be a challenge. Historically, many curricular materials and activities for teaching young children about Thanksgiving have been full of historical inaccuracies, cultural insensitivity, and simplified narratives that perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
When putting this collection of Thanksgiving videos together, I considered that some subject matter may not be developmentally appropriate for kindergarten. Though some of these videos touch on the history of Thanksgiving, the bulk of the content celebrates traditions and gratitude.
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Onto the videos! I hope this roundup of Thanksgiving videos for kids helps you plan your November! 🍽️
Talking turkey? I have another post with turkey videos for kindergarten!
Thanksgiving Videos: What is Thanksgiving and Why Do We Celebrate it?
This first set of Thanksgiving videos tells students, through narration and music, general information about Thanksgiving in the United States.
From Homeschool Pop, this 8-minute “Thanksgiving for Kids” uses photos, graphics, and animation to give basic information and some lesser-known facts about the Thanksgiving holiday. This video covers where Thanksgiving is celebrated, why and how most people celebrate (by having a big meal with loved ones while expressing their thanks for the blessings of the past year), and gives a simple history of Thanksgiving celebrations (in Europe, in Canada, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and as harvest celebrations by indigenous groups prior to colonization).
At just over four minutes, this video from Twinkl Teaching Resources also gives a general informational overview of Thanksgiving. Beginning with a timeline of the history of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States from the 1600s to the proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, The second half of the video covers modern-day Thanksgiving traditions and foods. The video ends with a “Turn and Talk” invitation for students to discuss their own Thanksgiving traditions.
This read-aloud video is of the book Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, and Alexis Bunten (illustrated by Gary Meeches Sr.). This story tells about the first Thanksgiving from the Wampanoag perspective. You can find this book here on Amazon if you want to add it to your classroom library. If you’re interested in stocking your shelves with more books by Indigenous authors, you can find some great titles for kindergarten in this post.
This next video, from Kids Academy, is also about four minutes long. It features an animated narrator who describes her family’s Thanksgiving traditions, including running a race, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and enjoying a meal with her family. This movie does not cover the history of Thanksgiving and ends with a little review quiz.
From Sesame Studios, this Thanksgiving song touches on traditions and thankfulness with sweet, animated felt animal characters.
This short song has one verse (repeated) that young students can memorize fairly quickly. The lyrics of this Thanksgiving song focus on the time of year of the holiday, with an emphasis on the harvest. If you are using Thanksgiving to teach science standards related to plant life cycles or farms, this is a nice, simple song to teach!
Here are the words:
The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest is all gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain.
So open wide the doorway-
Thanksgiving comes again!
Thanksgiving Videos: Celebrating Thanksgiving with Favorite Characters
These read-alouds and animated episodes let children learn about Thanksgiving traditions from fun fictional characters.
This one-hour special, “Arthur’s Thanksgiving,” touches on many Thanksgiving themes: togetherness with family, a Thanksgiving parade, helping others, the importance of community, and gratitude. You may not have time for such a long video, but this is a nice one to have saved if you have a period at the end of the day before Thanksgiving break with a smaller-than-usual group of students!
Daniel Tiger from PBS Kids also has a few Thanksgiving episodes (though the special occasion is called “Thank You Day” in Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood). This compilation includes three separate episodes. The first is “Margaret’s First Thank You Day,” in which Daniel shows compassion for his sister when she becomes sick on Thank You Day and cannot attend the neighborhood celebration. The second episode begins around the 35-minute mark and is, “Thank You, Grandpere Tiger!” This episode also focuses on gratitude and family togetherness. The final episode, beginning at the 48-minute mark, is “Neighborhood Thank You Day.” In this episode, the characters write thank-you notes to each other, making it a nice intro to a November writing center!
From Storytime Anytime, this read-aloud video of Bear Says Thank by Karma Wilson shares a sweet story of friends feasting together. This sweet video shows the importance of community and that Thanksgiving doesn’t look the same for everyone—some celebrate with friends rather than family. You can find Bear Says Thanks here on Amazon if you want to add it to your collections!
The big red dog goes on an adventure to visit his mom for Thanksgiving in this read-aloud of Clifford’s Thanksgiving Visit. This story (which you can find here on Amazon) has a theme of family togetherness.
The Children’s Storytime Bookshelf brings us a read-aloud of Teddy Slater’s The Best Thanksgiving Ever. (I don’t think this book is currently in print, but you might be able to find a copy at the library!) This is a rhyming story about a turkey family preparing to host Thanksgiving. With references to many Thanksgiving themes and traditions, this is a nice general Thanksgiving video for leading into a discussion about the students’ Thanksgiving plans.
Thanksgiving Videos About Gratitude and Being Thankful
These Thanksgiving videos embody the reason for the season, focusing on gratitude! This collection of songs and stories will help you introduce your Thankfulness lessons and crafts!
We Are Grateful by Cherokee author Traci Sorell reminds us to be thankful all year round. This book (and the read-aloud video) includes some Cherokee words for children to practice. You can find the book here on Amazon if you want to add it to your library.
“Appreciation and Thankfulness” is a catchy song by Jack Hartmann that will help build vocabulary and have kids singing and moving along with the music.
From The Juicebox Jukebox, this song, “Thankful,” reminds listeners to be grateful for all they have, even on tough days. This is a lovely song for character-building, with lots of descriptive words for positive traits.
Here’s a short Reading Rainbow episode that features a read-aloud of Chief Jake Swamp’s Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. Following the storybook (which focuses on being thankful for the gifts the Earth gives us), this nine-and-a-half-minute video includes an informative tour of a cranberry farm.
“Thankful Song” from Gracie’s Corner is a sweet animated video about gratitude with an original song that children will enjoy singing and moving along with. Your students might also enjoy seeing this photo of the real “Gracie” who works with her family to create educational videos for children.
Elmo sings along with Leon Bridges in this Sesame Street Thanksgiving video about the importance of friendship.
“I’m Thankful” from Super Simple Songs gives children lots of examples of things for which one might be thankful! This is a great one to watch as part of a brainstorming session for a Thanksgiving craft!
Thanksgiving Videos About Food and the Harvest
Food plays an important role in many Thanksgiving traditions. This section includes Thanksgiving videos that focus on the things we eat and how we get those foods!
Though not made specifically for kids, this video from Geography King is pretty interesting. The host shares regionally popular Thanksgiving foods. This is a nice way for kids to see their own cultural traditions represented and to learn about those of others.
This cartoon from Little Fox shares the story of a family eating Thanksgiving dinner together and commenting on the various traditional foods they share. When Aunt Judy presents a special treat of oyster pie, the family learns that Dad has always been reluctant to try this new food. This is a cute lesson in the value of trying new foods.
From Pinkfong, this Baby Shark variation features the shark family working together to make Thanksgiving dinner. This cheerful and celebratory song also includes a section about thankfulness.
Corn, beans, and squash are known as “the three sisters” among many Indigenous groups of North America. The Keepumumuk read-aloud video in the first section referenced these important crops as used by the Wampanoag people. The short video below explains why and how these crops are often planted together and this animated video tells a “Three Sisters” Iroquois legend.
From Danny Go, here’s a fun song that celebrates pumpkin pie during the Thanksgiving season. This song would fit in nicely with the pumpkin pie activities in this blog post!
From Games4esl, this video has children guess the names of Thanksgiving foods as their pictures are slowly revealed. This is a fun way to review Thanksgiving vocabulary.
The Learning Station gives us this next video, “Thanksgiving Feast.” This simple and repetitive song is easy to learn, so kids will be able to sing along. You might also want to extend the song so your students can make up verses with their favorite Thanksgiving foods that are missing from the video.
While not specifically about Thanksgiving, this video about farming will help you tie your Thanksgiving unit into content standards related to plants, farms, and community helpers. You can use this video as a springboard to a conversation about where Thanksgiving foods come from and how they make their way into our kitchens and onto our dinner tables.
Here are some other posts that might be helpful to you as you plan your November!
Thanksgiving Videos About the Thanksgiving Day Parade
For many families, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV is a traditional part of the holiday. This section gives children some context and background for understanding and appreciating the parade this year. You might also build on these parade videos to include STEAM activities in your Thanksgiving unit.
Balloons over Broadway, written & illustrated by Melissa Sweet is a picture book that tells the story of Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who invented the large balloons used in parades today. This video is a read-aloud of the book (which you can find here on Amazon).
In this video, Elementary Explorers take us on a tour of the streets of New York as the Thanksgiving Day parade balloons are being inflated and then elevated above the streets. This video shares history and fun facts about the parade in an engaging format. Kids will enjoy seeing some familiar characters in balloon form!
This video is of a “Kids Edition” news segment that shares an interview with aerospace engineer, Keji Sojobi. She explains the science behind the “Ada Twist, Scientist” parade balloon. This interview is about five minutes long and is embedded in a longer news video that is off-topic. Click below to jump the the beginning of the “Kids Edition” section, which ends at the 10:35 point. Ms. Sojobi ends her interview with some inspiring words for young scientists.
This final video is also about the Ada Twist balloon. This time children will hear information from experts about the science behind the balloons interspersed with scenes from the Netflix series. You can find the book Ada Twist, Scientist here on Amazon.
I hope this collection of Thanksgiving videos for kids will save you some time and help you plan your November. Thanks for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃