Thanksgiving is a great time to come together as a family and have a wonderful dinner while reflecting on everything there is to be grateful for. But you may need a way (or two) to keep the kids busy while the adults are preparing all that delicious food... Here are some ideas for free Thanksgiving activities for kids.
Fun activities can also teach Gratitude.
While Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what you have, it can also be a great opportunity to teach even your little ones about gratitude. This year, consider making the holiday more meaningful by teaching them how important it is to show appreciation. Consider giving them an assignment where they must write out why they are thankful for each person in their life and then read these letters aloud at dinner.
They could make cards or gifts for family members who have been especially helpful throughout the year or even write thank-you notes to favorite teachers or coaches! The possibilities are endless when it comes to showing gratitude this holiday season!
Make gratitude rocks
Gather rocks from the backyard or from a park.
Write down something you are grateful for on the rocks, such as "I'm grateful for my family" or "I am thankful for my home".
Place these rocks in a jar and display them somewhere in your house where you can see them daily, like on top of your dresser or by the front door where everyone who comes in will notice them immediately!
If there are no rocks, you can use other items, even just slips of paper. You can also go around the Thanksgiving table and have all kids and adults in the family participate.
This is a really fun Thanksgiving game for families getting together for the holiday. You can make (or print out ready-made) Thanksgiving bingo cards. Some are based on bingo balls, like the original version, but others are played with certain phrases. When someone says a word or phrase on the card throughout the day, you dab that space.
This is a great turkey craft for the little ones, especially those who love anything to do with painting. Get paper plates and some fall-colored hand paint. Make a handprint on the paper plate. The fingers are now the feathers of the turkey. When the paint dries, kids can use markers to add eyes, a beak, and legs to turn the handprint into a turkey art!
If you want to avoid paint, you can simply cut out leaf-shaped strips from construction paper and glue them to the plate as the turkey feathers... or better yet... use actual fall leaves from the backyard as the feathers! In fact, the hunt for fallen leaves would be entertaining on its own!
This is a fun, creative craft that is sure the keep the kids' table busy.
Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt
A good scavenger hunt is always fun, and there are many ready-made scavenger hunts you can print out from the internet these days. Tweak it to suit you and your family and you'll have a fun game that kids of all ages will enjoy. In fact, this one actually is a great way to have fun with the whole family!
Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts
Tons of fun can come from a kids' table set up just for Thanksgiving crafts. Set some construction paper, white drawing paper, markers, and crayons, even a printable or two. For added creativity and fun, add some brown paper bags, paper plates, candy corn, fall leaves, watercolor paint or finger paint, glue or a hot glue gun (for older kids), and a pack of googly eyes, feathers, and/or mini pumpkins from the dollar store or craft store. You'll be surprised at what art kids can create. Don't be surprised if you see some adults joining in on the fun, too!
There's a really popular turkey craft that kids can do that includes a toilet paper roll to be used for the turkey's face and body, and colored construction paper to be used for the feathers. Adding googly eyes to the toilet paper roll adds the fun.
Arts and crafts are a great way to encourage creativity for the little ones. The best part is when they get to display their art for the whole family!
Create a thankfulness jar
This is a very popular Thanksgiving activity.
What to include in the jar:
a piece of paper, construction paper, or scrapbook paper with the words "Thankful" and "Grateful" written on it
a box of crayons to color on the paper if you like
a pen or pencil
How to make the jar:
Use a clear glass jar (it's easy for kids to see what is inside) with a lid. If you want, you can decorate it with stickers, paint, glitter, and more.
How to create a list of things to be thankful for:
Ask your child what they would like to be thankful for this year. Write their ideas down on paper and glue them into the jar or create an online list using Google Docs so that everyone in your family can add their own items too!
Create a Thanksgiving book
Make a book of Thanksgiving stories. The great thing about this idea is that it doesn't require any special supplies, so all you need is paper and crayons or markers. Try writing down all the funny things your kid says each day, as well as their favorite stories from books and movies. Once you have enough material written down, assemble all your notes into one big storybook (or several smaller ones).
Make a book of Thanksgiving recipes for the kids to cook with their families on Thanksgiving day! You can even let them help pick out what goes in each recipe if they're old enough; just make sure not to include anything too spicy or difficult for their little hands to handle safely!
Play turkey volleyball
Play turkey volleyball with your kids. You'll need a volleyball, a net, and friends or family for this Thanksgiving-themed game.
Let each child take turns being the turkey. The first player stands on the other side of the net from their partner(s). Then they take turns using their hands to pass the ball back and forth until they get it over the net—but only if they're holding up their paws like a turkey's wings! This is sure to be both fun and hilarious for all involved!
Read Thanksgiving books
Read Thanksgiving books - While you may have read these stories as a child, your kids will be learning them for the first time! They'll enjoy hearing you read aloud to them and they'll get excited about their own future Thanksgiving celebrations.
The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving by Alice Dalgliesh
Little Pilgrim's Progress by Susan Jeffers
Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Stephen Krensky
Download a Free Printable
This is a quick, easy, and fun addition to the kids' table. There are many free activity sheets that you can print online to keep kids busy, as well. From Thanksgiving coloring pages to crosswords and other activity sheets, this should keep them entertained at least until the turkey comes out of the oven.
Let them help cook
The best way to teach kids about cooking and food is by letting them help you in the kitchen. Letting your child help you cook from a young age will give them more exposure to making meals and preparing their own foods, which can lead to better eating habits later on in life. So go ahead and ask them for help stuffing the turkey or making the pumpkin pie. They will feel involved, valued, and appreciated.
Having them help cook Thanksgiving dinner, though, is probably something they will never forget. The sense of accomplishment and gratitude they will feel when they sit down at the Thanksgiving table and see the whole family enjoying a meal that they helped prepare is one that will stay with them for a very long time.
Some other Thanksgiving ideas for entertaining children
Here are just a few ideas for fun Thanksgiving activities for kids:
Take the kids on a hike. The sound of crunching leaves and twigs under your feet adds to the experience, and you can get in some exercise as well. This is an excellent idea if it's cold outside.
Make birdseed ornaments together by pouring melted white chocolate into molds and then sprinkling seeds on top before they harden. The finished products look like little birds' nests! You can also try making candy corn pumpkins with orange candy chips, white marshmallows, and yellow frosting for stems (for more information about how to make these cute treats visit here).
Play games with them (this is especially fun if there are multiple children present). Most stores now sell non-violent video games that feature characters from popular TV shows (like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) or old cartoons like Tom & Jerry which are safe even if they get squished between two furious competitors in a wrestling match - no blood spilled here!
Thanksgiving Day is a great day to encourage group activities, whether it's just amongst the kids or the entire family. Plus, the kids will definitely need to be entertained while the adults are busy in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dinner. These activities are sure to entertain them and keep them out from underfoot while you’re cooking or cleaning up after dinner.
But remember, the best holiday is one where you not only eat with family but connect with them on a deeper level, as well. What better way to connect than to reflect on what you have to be thankful for? These activities are a great way to help do just that.
Wishing you the best Thanksgiving ever!