12 Thanksgiving Day activities that are great for kids
Preparing a Thanksgiving feast takes serious time and energy, and if you have kids, then those are two things you probably don’t have. Don’t worry, mama, we got you.
Thanksgiving is a day to reflect on things we’re grateful for and an opportunity to bond with family, but let’s be real: If you’re hosting, this holiday can be anything but relaxing.
Preparing a Thanksgiving feast takes serious time and energy, and if you have kids, then those are two things you probably don’t have. How on earth are you going to be able to keep your kids entertained all day while perpetually checking on the turkey, mashing potatoes and whisking every last lump out of the gravy? Don’t worry, mama, we got you.
Every kid likes a festive activity we’ve come up with a wide range of them to help your whole family get through Thanksgiving while still feeling grateful for each other. Some require a little prep work beforehand, while others are as easy as printing out coloring pages and letting your kiddo go to town.
12 Thanksgiving activities for kids
1. Felt pumpkin pies
No Thanksgiving meal is complete without pumpkin pie, and while you’re baking yours, have your kid make their own too—out of felt! For the craft, you’ll need tan craft felt, a handful of orange pom poms, white poms poms, mini aluminum pie tins, craft scissors and a Sharpie.
Beforehand, flip the tin over and place it on your tan felt. Use the Sharpie to trace around the tin (two circles per pie). If you’re feeling really crafty, you can use textured scissors to cut the top crust, and/or cut out an ex at the top to make it really look like pie crust. When it’s time to bake, let your child assemble their own pie by putting a tan circle in the bottom of the tin, filling it with orange pom poms, then topping with the crust and a dollop of whipped cream (a white pom pom). For added fun, you can include baking tools like rolling pins, spoons, bowls, measuring cups and plastic eggs. See the full tutorial at Glued to My Crafts.
2. ‘I’m Grateful For…’ Thanksgiving coloring pages
This activity will keep your kiddo busy while also letting them reflect on what they’re most grateful for this year and give them a chance to get creative with drawing. And the best part? All you have to do is print it out!
The “I’m Grateful For…” Thanksgiving coloring page asks your kid WHO they’re most grateful for, WHAT they’re most grateful for, and WHY they’re most grateful this year. It also has a space for them to draw a picture of what they’re grateful for. If you enlist adults to fill out their own pages too, everyone can share their answers at the dinner table before digging into the Thanksgiving feast. Print out your Thanksgiving coloring page at Thirty Handmade Days.
3. Thanksgiving color sorting
Get your little one’s brain stimulated in a festive way with Thanksgiving color sorting. This activity requires a little bit of preparation beforehand. You’ll need to cut turkey feathers in a variety of colored craft foam or thick card stock (orange, brown, yellow, green and red) and get yourself a bag of Sixlets, Skittles or M&Ms. Pour the candy into a little bowl and sit your kiddo at a table with the feathers fanned around it (like a turkey), then have them sort the candies to the corresponding colored feather.
If you have an older child, this will be a no-brainer for them. If they’re toddler age, you may need to help guide them a bit if they haven’t quite grasped the concept of colors yet. And remember, it’s totally fine if they’re not perfectly matching the colored candy to the feather. It’s still a great activity to build up fine motor skills (and an excuse to eat candy). If you’d rather not use candy for this activity, you can use other small items like pom poms, buttons, marbles or anything else you may have around the house.
4. Thanksgiving I Spy game
This is another great activity that’ll keep your kid busy with pretty much no prep work! All you have to do is print out this handy I Spy sheet that’s filled with festive imagery like Pilgrim hats, turkeys, pumpkins, cornucopias and more. On the back of the page, there’s a list of every item in the picture. Your kiddo’s job is to count the number of each one they see in the picture (this could take a while — there’s 13 total!). When they’re all done, you can quickly and easily see how they did with a convenient answer key printed at the bottom. Print out your I Spy game via Live Laugh Rowe.
5. Turkey feathers fine motor activity
If you’ve got a busy toddler on your hands, this turkey feathers fine motor activity is bound to keep them occupied while you cook. To get it set up, you’ll need a small brown box, craft feathers, brown, orange and red construction paper, a black marker, scissors, packing tape and a push pin. Before the big day, get the box ready by taping it shut and then using the push pin to poke holes on the top (create as many as you’d like. This is where your kiddo will put the feathers). Next, craft a turkey face by cutting the brown construction paper into a circle and gluing it onto the box. Then cut the orange paper into a beak and the red paper into a wattle and glue them onto the circle. The last step is coloring in some eyes with your black marker.
Present the box to your child with a variety of feather options so they can design their own special turkey. Aside from fine motor skill development, this activity can also help your little one practice counting, color recognition, patterns and independent play. See the full tutorial at Fun Learning For Kids.
6. Feeding the Turkey game
This Feeding the Turkey game is sure to entertain your toddler and can be set up with recycled materials. You’ll need a clear plastic container (you could use an old creamer or milk bottle, or whatever else might be lying around), some construction paper, googly eyes, super glue, plastic tongs and poms. Cut the paper into feathers and glue them onto the back of the jar and then create a turkey face by cutting out a beak with orange or yellow paper and a red wattle. Glue those on the front, along with the googly eyes, and then challenge your toddler to “feed” the turkey by picking up the pom poms with the tongs and dropping them inside the bottle.
This game will help your kiddo hone in on a bunch of skills including fine motor, problem solving, hand-eye coordination and independent play. If your child’s a little older, you could also turn this into a counting game. See the full tutorial at Busy Toddler.
7. Thanksgiving Charades
If you’re looking for something fun to do with the whole family after dinner, make the classic game of charades festive by using Thanksgiving-themed words. Purple Trail has a list of great words ranging from Pilgrim to Green Bean that you can easily print out and cut into little strips of paper. Split your group into two teams and let each player draw at random. Set a time limit for each person to act out their word while their team guesses, and keep score by tallying what words were guessed before the time’s up. If you need a refresher on the rules of charades, here’s a handy guide.
8. Turkey tag
There’s no better way to let your kids get out their wiggles before Thanksgiving dinner than letting them run around the backyard. If you’re hosting a group (or have a big family) then turkey tag would be a great pre-dinner activity for the little ones. To set up the game, you’ll need clothespins, paint (a different color for each player), googly eyes, orange and red foam sheets (preferably with self-adhesive), and glue. Each person will need three clothespins painted their specific color. While the paint is drying, cut out an orange beak and red wattle out of foam sheets for each clothespin. After the paint dries, stick those to the clothespins, glue on two googly eyes and you’ve got your turkeys. To play the game, each participant starts with three turkeys pinned to their clothes. Let everyone get in position and then let them loose. The object of the game is to remove the other players’ turkeys while keeping yours secure. The last person who’s still wearing at least one turkey is the winner. See the full tutorial at Let’s Get Together.
9. Butcher paper table cloth
Putting down a long piece of butcher paper on the dining table creates a space for everyone to get creative. Kids can draw to their heart’s content before the table is set up for a little homemade touch to the decor. There can even be a designated space for kids and guests alike to write down what they’re thankful for.
10. Felt pumpkin toss
Who doesn’t love a good pumpkin toss? Not only is this a game for all ages but the felt pumpkins make it an activity that even your youngest can join in for. Simply wrap orange felt around a roll of toilet paper. Glue the ends of the felt together with a hot glue gun. You can even create a stem for your pumpkin using a square piece of green or brown felt, rolling it then gluing the ends together. Repeat for as many pumpkins as you need! To set up the game, place baskets a distance away (depending on age, further or closer!) then, turn by turn everyone can toss their pumpkins. Anything can be used as a make-shift basket! But, if you’re going for authenticity then put out bushel baskets. You can create multiple baskets, placing each steadily further and further away to up the stakes. Here’s a step-by-step guide to create the pumpkins.
11. Party favors
One way for children to show their appreciation for family and loved ones who will be attending Thanksgiving dinner is to create party favors. There is no end to creating interesting party favors, whether you choose to make them out of little baggies or mini clay pots the important thing is to let the kids have fun choosing what goes inside. You can steer them towards assorted candies or regular crowd pleasers that your guests usually go for. You can also have your little ones write a sentence about something they’re thankful for. Crafting personalized favors could also be something to think about for a smaller guest list. Don’t forget to stick with the turkey theme by cutting a red felt circle for the head, a yellow felt triangle for the beak, google eyes and a spray of feathers to create a turkey. Here’s a clay pot tutorial.
12. Make a thankful jar
Any empty jar you have on hand will do for this activity. First your child can decorate the jar. They can draw on a piece of paper that you can then tape onto the jar or, they can even paint right on the jar itself. This tutorial shows you how to decorate the jar using liquid starch and tissue paper. Once the jar is dry and ready to be used, your little ones can be the first to write something they’re thankful for on a slip of paper and put it inside. Guests can also contribute! Little ones who can read might love getting the chance to pick a slip at random and reading what people have written.
A version of this post was published November 1, 2021. It has been updated.