Save Tom the Turkey! (Thanksgiving Activity)

A brief PowerPoint about the concept of the Presidential Pardon of the Turkey with a matching letter-writing activity. Heavy focus on fun, creative writing

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

This is a powerpoint that has gone really well with my students.

The first half is about the concept of presidential pardon, and a brief history about how the tradition came to be. I find that a lot of my students are really interested in the presidents, and actually knew most of the presidents I included in the presentation. There is a short video of Obama pardoning turkeys pulled from YouTube, I usually skip the "dad jokes" part because they contain a lot of English the students may not understand and I don't want to lose interest.

Then, comes the fun part. Introduce Tom the Turkey, and really hype up the fact that the president wants to eat him for Thanksgiving. The student's job is to write a letter to the president convincing him to not eat Tom... or maybe he should?

The students do have a choice on whether or not Tom is eaten. Ensure that the students know this before writing. But, in order for their vote to count, they must write a decently sized letter (at least a few full sentences). With this activity, I focus less on perfect English, and encourage students to write whatever stories/excuses/reasons they can come up with. I find that they have a lot of fun coming up with crazy ways to convince the President to their side, or just roast poor Tom.

While the students are writing, leave up the slide with the example letter (feel free to change my name to your own, lol.) Then, when the students are done writing, move to the next slide and collect the papers. While you're making the count, there is music to heighten tension, and a little surprise that the students really enjoy. After the count is made, choose one of the buttons depending on how many complete letters you recieved: PARDON or DINNER.

Each option has its own unique ending and song. So far, all of my students have saved Tom, but some students really wanna see that bird burn, lol.

Just a fun activity to encourage creative writing!

This worked best with my third year JHS, my second years seemed to struggle with the presentation, but still enjoyed writing the letter. I included both versions in my upload, in case you guys need some variety.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Small files
  • presidential pardons worksheet.pdf (146 KB)
  • Medium files (requires an account to download) -
  • Presidential Pardons.pptx (14.3 MB)
  • 9
    Submitted by robertsbp November 22, 2023 Estimated time: About 10-15 for the presentation, and 10-15 for the writing activity
    1. dennisp61 November 24, 2023

      This looks great and is super well-made! I'm excited to try this with my students. Thank you for making and sharing this.

    2. Samu T November 28, 2023

      Thank you for your hard work. My students loved this creative and culturally enriching project.

    3. leaveseclipse November 28, 2023

      This makes me want to quit teaching elementary school and change nationalities just so I can use this. Great activity

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