Looking for the perfect Thanksgiving Read Aloud and maybe a fun (and FREE) activity to accompany it? Well look no further! Today I’m taking a look at an engaging picture book biography that showcases all things STEM, promotes a growth mindset, and can easily tap into your Social Studies mapping curriculum! (I told you it was perfect!)
I was born on Thanksgiving, so I may be partial to all things Thanksgiving related, but I just love the tradition of the Macy’s Day Parade. No… not the lip synching debacle (I try to ignore that as best I can!) I love the celebration of different cultures, the master puppetry of the balloons, the music (the bands!), the dancing and the pure celebration.
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Thank The Perfect Thanksgiving Read Aloud:
Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Day Parade, by Melissa Sweet, gives a wonderful history of the Macy’s Day Parade, while examining its chief designer, Tony Sarg. Did you know that Macy’s originally created the parade for their employees? Many were immigrants and missed their own holiday traditions, music and dance, so Macy’s agreed to host a parade for them.
While sharing the history of this 88-year tradition, it also looks at the creative mind of Tony Sarg. He was a self-taught master puppeteer, with a knack for creative problem-solving. When the animals from the local zoo proved too scary to children, he began to create large puppets to replace them. He went through many versions over the years, but finally ended up with an upside-down puppet filled with air- The Ballon Puppets!
The Perfect Thanksgiving Activity:
This story isn’t only great to discuss creative problem solving, and allowing students to experiment with their own float/balloon designs. I also love using this story to practice mapping skills and learn the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Route. I created a student-friendly map of Lower Manhattan, and a little scavenger hunt to help them find the route.
I typically have students use a pencil first, and highlight the route after they have double checked their work. It can also be fun to have students compare this new route to the original route (down Broadway).
My students always come back from Thanksgiving Break with stories of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with their family and watching them turn onto each street they highlighted. I love the connections they are able to make, the creative-problem solving the story models, and the author’s homage to art and artists.
You can grab your own copy of this activity for free below!
I hope you and your students enjoy this read aloud and freebie this year! It's truly a favorite!