Monday, November 19, 2012


by Jacqueline Jules

At Thanksgiving time, many classrooms enjoy persuasive writing. A very popular writing prompt is the DON’T EAT ME letter where students take on the persona of a turkey trying to convince the farmer to spare him from the chopping block. Students have a blast explaining why they are too scrawny or tasteless to eat. Since these pleas are written in letter form to a fictional Farmer Brown, there is an opportunity to review proper letter form in the process.   

A variation on this theme would be to ask students to write dialogues between foods sitting on a Thanksgiving table. Each food could explain why it is important to the holiday meal and/or the favorite of the family sitting down to eat. Descriptions of foods always provide great opportunities to incorporate the five senses. Does the food crunch in your mouth? Does it have a particular texture or taste on your tongue? What does it smell like?

The conversations between the foods could be playful or serious. The cranberry sauce could argue with the green beans over who is the most colorful or nutritious. The turkey could be a big bully who makes the other foods cry until the crescent rolls decide to take a stand. Maybe the pumpkin pie has an argument with the pecan pie and all the foods pick sides. The possibilities for creative dialogue are endless and students may have great fun performing their finished pieces as Reader’s Theater. For tips on giving each character in a conversation a distinctive voice, check out Mary Quattlebaum’s post on Two-Person Dialogue poems 
And of course, don’t miss this opportunity to review grammar rules for writing dialogue. Many students neglect to begin a new indented line for each speaker or put punctuation inside the quotation marks.

Finally, please note that I said students should write dialogues between foods on the Thanksgiving table, rather than traditional Thanksgiving foods. Many first generation immigrant families, like the character of Tuyet, in my Thanksgiving picture book, Duck for Turkey Day, serve a holiday meal native to their birth country rather than turkey and stuffing. Writing about holiday foods from other countries and sharing their descriptions could become a lesson on diversity in your classroom. We need to remember that not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving in the same way and too much emphasis on turkeys can be uncomfortable for some children. On this theme, I wrote a song about foods on the Thanksgiving table that you are welcome to share with your students. This song, “A Holiday for All,” is set to the tune of Shortin’ Bread. Maybe your students will want to create their own lyrics to a familiar tune in honor of Thanksgiving, too.

1 comment:

  1. I've also had fun writing about trying new and unusual foods. Thanks for your recommendations.