With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, many families (mine included) are starting to prep for the big day. But in between meal planning, figuring out seating arrangements, and finalizing travel plans, don’t forget that the holiday marks a wonderful season for hands-on activities with children.
Looking to keep your little ones entertained and engaged all season long? Here are a handful of Thanksgiving activities for kids that’ll teach them what the holiday’s really all about.
Family Volunteer Day
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by giving your time and energy to a worthy cause. Children learn best by doing, and jumpstarting an altruistic tradition allows them to feel the joy of giving firsthand. A family volunteer day can be approached in a number of ways.
This time of year is especially known for toy drives. Since helping a child in need is a great way to teach your little one about empathy and generosity, let your kid take the lead. Invite them to select a special toy (either one they’ve outgrown or a new one) to be given to a less fortunate child. A stuffed animal blanket, like one of our Lil Snugglers, makes an ideal gift for infants and toddlers because they’re often adopted as “lovey” objects (also known as soothing transitional objects). If your child is big enough to say goodbye to their Lil Snuggler lovey, letting them pass it onto someone who needs it can be a powerful moment of growth and generosity.
Whip Up Some Thanksgiving Treats
Thanksgiving is a time when families pull out all the stops in the kitchen. Get your child involved by having them prepare an age-appropriate part of the big dinner. In our house, no-bake peanut butter pie has been a big hit with our 4- and 5-year-old little chefs. This year, I’ve got my eye on these turkey Rice Krispie treats.
For after-dinner coffee or hot cocoa, your child can also easily create their own Thanksgiving-themed mugs. This is a fun and easy craft we’ve done in the past for Father’s Day—all you need are some Sharpies and an oven. Just one word of advice: if you don’t trust your kiddos with permanent markers, do this project one-on-one style to avoid a mess.
Create Seasonal Crafts
No home is complete without some Thanksgiving decorations! Getting crafty is super-easy, especially with kids. Take a nature walk, collecting fall-colored autumn leaves, pinecones and acorns. With the help of some googly eyes and glue, these free supplies can be transformed into pinecone turkeys. Another great (and educational) Thanksgiving activity that drives home the holiday’s message is to make gratitude trees. Making a tree of thanks is an excellent way for your child to identify and share the things for which they’re most grateful. To spruce up your dining table, kiddos can also easily create their own Thanksgiving-themed centerpieces.
Play Interactive Family Games
The holidays are a time to come together as a family. Take advantage of it by encouraging some interactive family fun! Animal puppets are a unique way to dial up the imaginative thinking and dramatic play. Families can create their own kid-centered Thanksgiving stories with these cuddly guys, getting everyone in on the action.
In our house, seasonal bingo is another popular game. Print up some Thanksgiving-themed cards and have at it. You can even use candy corn as the bingo tokens, which will definitely motivate the kids even more. To put an educational twist on it, create cards that emphasize the beginning sounds of Thanksgiving words, or cards that spell out the words instead of using picture aids (whatever’s appropriate for your kids).