The Thanksgiving season is here, and this is a time for gratitude, family, beauty, and wonder. It is harvest time, and we give thanks for everything that we have in our lives. I have always loved this time of year, and throughout my years of teaching, I have always tried to find fun new ways to celebrate it. Here are some of my favorite fun Thanksgiving activities to do with toddlers.
There’s something about those tiny toddler tootsies that just have to be captured and remembered, so I love crafts that involve hand and footprints. These footprint turkeys are beautiful, with their stained glass tissue paper feathers and adorable footprint body. Simply paint some brown paint on your toddler’s foot and help them make a footprint on white paper. This link provides a feather frame printable that you can use to make the rest of the turkey. Super simple and beautiful when finished, it will be a Thanksgiving decoration that you will cherish for years.
If you have a hole puncher, then you can create this pretty fall craft. One of the things I like most about harvest corn, or Indian corn, is its array of colors. They blend beautifully with the colors of fall, and so they also make lovely crafts to do with your toddler! Colored construction paper provides the variety of color in this craft. Using your hole puncher, punch out confetti from the colored paper. Glue the colored confetti on to a piece of construction paper cut out in the shape of an ear of corn, and add some green or brown paper for the corn stalks.
There are lots of different books out there that tell the story of the First Thanksgiving in a way that little children can comprehend. Share a few of these stories with your toddler and teach them about the First Thanksgiving. Once you feel they have a good understanding of the story, invite them to share in a First Thanksgiving Snack with you. It is a sweet way to reenact this story, and discuss how they think the Native Americans and the Pilgrims would have been feeling.
Thankfulness is a big part of this holiday, hence the name, and it is important to teach this concept to our children. Fostering an attitude of gratitude begins at home, and there’s no better time to count our blessings than at Thanksgiving. This adorable thankful turkey craft is a great way to do so, and it allows your toddler to be part of the process. Create a turkey body from brown construction paper, and cut out some feathers using different colored construction paper. On each feather, write something that you or your child are thankful for. Add to it throughout the holiday season, and keep revisiting the concept of gratitude throughout the year.
There are many ways to have fun with sensory play, and it is such a great way for toddlers to ignite all of their senses. This idea from Little Bins for Little Hands uses cranberries as the base of this sensory play. Begin with a simple sensory bin filled with cranberries and water. Add some household utensils like spoons, spatulas, tongs, and cups. Let your toddler have fun experimenting with the cranberries and water, exploring a variety of science concepts in the process.
#6 – Bottle Cap Turkey
This cute little guy is small enough to stick around throughout the year, as he could have a home on your fridge! Using a bottle cap, some googly eyes, and a bit of construction paper, you can make your own little turkey magnet. This craft isn’t quite as kid-friendly as others, because your toddler may need some support with the cutting and gluing of small pieces. But they can certainly help with placing the different pieces on to the bottle cap, and the end result will be adorable! Make a whole bottle cap turkey family to decorate your fridge!
Thanksgiving dinner can sometimes be a trying time for parents, as they navigate getting a huge meal cooked and served, socializing with visiting family and friends, and keeping little ones entertained and well-behaved. Sitting at the table for long periods of time is hard for kids, so being prepared with some table-friendly activities can help wonders. This cute little photo placemat is a fun craft to create (template available for download), and it gives your toddler an interactive placemat to draw on and play with while waiting for dinner to be served.
#8 – Fall Family Outings
Fall is one of my favorite times of year to be outdoors! The days are cooler, but those crisp fall days with the sun shining are simply beautiful. And there are so many things you can do together! Play in the fallen leaves, go on a scavenger hunt, visit a local farm and pick some apples, or just go for a nice drive to see all the fall colors. That has always been a favorite family activity, and we always managed to find a new park or hiking trail to check out along the way!
#9 – Pumpkin Pie Craft
What is Thanksgiving dinner without pumpkin pie? Although people are divided on pumpkin pie, I am firmly in the “loves pumpkin pie” corner. So, I can’t resist this adorable pumpkin pie craft, and the fact that it is super simple is great too. Using cardstock or construction paper, cut out a piece of paper in the shape of a slice of pie. Glue on some orange tissue paper to make the pumpkin filling, then glue or staple squares of brown construction paper to make the pie crust. As the finished touch, glue some cotton balls in the centre of the pie as the whipped cream…yum!
#10 – Indian Corn Squish Bag
There is something inherently satisfying with squishing something in a bag, and toddlers love these types of explorations. Using hair gel and a bit of yellow food coloring, you can create a fun squish bag that your toddler will love to explore. Adding the corn kernels brings texture and interest to this activity, and you can really add any items to the bag to make it more intriguing for little ones. Pumpkin seeds, mini plastic leaves or pumpkins, and any other fall-themed items would be great to include. Tape the bag to a sunny window, so the sunlight pours through, and your toddler will love squishing it and inspecting it for hours!
This is a fun and simple activity to reinforce color names, using candy or small manipulatives that you have around the house. Cut out some large feathers using different colored paper, and let your toddler sort the pieces onto the correct colored feather. To add in some fine motor practice, you could also have your child use some kitchen tongs or kid-friendly tweezers to pick up the different pieces to place on the feathers. Either way, this is a fun activity that you can do again and again with different pieces and colors.
This is another one of those activities that can help to make Thanksgiving dinner a lot easier on the parents! It can be hard for toddlers to sit nicely at the table for long periods of time, so having some activities to keep them busy is a big help. Your toddler can help to make this cute little chair backer, and then it can be filled with crayons and little activities that would keep them busy while they’re sitting at the table. Throw in a couple of little treats, and your toddler will be as good as gold throughout dinner!
Another simple activity to help your toddler develop their fine motor skills. Use a recycled bottle as the turkey, and glue on some googly eyes and a beak and waddle to make your turkey face. Simply fill a bin with pom poms or any other small manipulative. Using a pair of tongs or kid-friendly tweezers, have your toddler pick up a pom pom and place it into the turkey bottle to “feed the turkey”. Chomping and chewing sounds are optional, but will certainly make the activity fun and will make your toddler laugh!
#14 – Eye Dropper Indian Corn
This eye dropper Indian corn craft is really pretty and fairly simple to do. Just cut out some pieces of white construction paper in the shape of an ear of corn. Mix some watercolor paints with a bit of water to make them lighter. Using an eye dropper, let your toddler squeeze up some paint and drop it onto the paper. Let them dry, and then add some green construction paper husks to finish it off. You will have some lovely ears of corn to display around your home to celebrate the Thanksgiving season!
#15 – Pom Pom Push Turkey
This is another great fine motor activity that your toddler will love! The bonus is that it also reinforces color names, which is always good to practice. Grab a box from the recycle, and, using your artistic talents (mine are nonexistent, but don’t worry that’s ok!), draw a turkey on the box with different colored feathers. Once it is finished, poke holes in the different feathers, just large enough for a pom pom to fit through. Give your toddler a cup of colored pom poms, and let them have fun pushing the pom poms through the holes. A very simple activity that has multiple benefits and is tons of fun! You might even find yourself pushing some of those pom poms through!
Which Activity Will You Try First?
I hope you enjoyed this list of Thanksgiving activities for your toddler! Toddlers love activities that are engaging and fun, allowing them to practice their skills and have fun at the same time.
Which activity do you think you’ll try first? Be sure to let us know!
Feel free to share this list with others, and have a very happy Thanksgiving!