Ah, Thanksgiving—when the scents of roasted turkey and pumpkin pie permeate the air, and we’re reminded of the myriad blessings in our lives. But for the little ones in our midst, Thanksgiving isn’t just about a grand feast; it’s a golden opportunity to learn, play, and bond. With their naturally curious minds and boundless energy, preschoolers can be our perfect companions to rediscover the true essence of this holiday, away from the grown-up hustle.
If you’re wondering how to make this special occasion even more memorable for your pint-sized pilgrim, you’ve landed in the right spot. Dive into this blog post for delightful Thanksgiving ideas tailored just for preschoolers, and watch as gratitude and joy unfold through their innocent eyes.
Here are 11 Thanksgiving Ideas for Preschoolers:
1. Thankful Trees
The concept of a “Thankful Tree” is a tactile and visual way to teach preschoolers about gratitude, especially during the Thanksgiving season. To create this tree, provide children with various cut-out leaves crafted from autumn-hued colored paper.
Encourage each child to think of something they are truly thankful for—whether it’s their family, a beloved toy, or their favorite snack. Once they’ve selected their gratitude point, either they can draw a representation of it or, with the help of an adult, jot down a few words on the leaf.
As the children complete their leaves, they can attach them to branches. These branches could be real, gathered from a nature walk, or constructed from brown craft paper or cardboard. Over time, the tree becomes a radiant display of all the beautiful things the children appreciate, making it a focal point of conversation and reflection.
2. Turkey Handprints
Nothing captures the fleeting innocence of childhood quite like handprints, making the “Turkey Handprint” craft a cherished activity. Start by choosing a palette of fall-colored paints like red, orange, brown, and yellow.
Dip a child’s palm and fingers into the paint, and then press it onto a sheet of paper, ensuring the fingers spread out like the fanned feathers of a turkey.
Once the paint dries, the children can embellish their turkeys using markers, glitter, stickers, or craft googly eyes. They can add a beak, feet, and any other decorations they see fit. This craft not only provides a hands-on painting experience but also creates a keepsake that families can cherish for years to come.
3. Pilgrim Hat Crayon Holders
Combining utility with creativity, the “Pilgrim Hat Crayon Holder” is a delightful addition to the Thanksgiving craft lineup. To make these, take black paper cups as the base. Around the rim of the cup, glue or tape a strip of white or yellow paper to represent the buckle band found on pilgrim hats.
For the buckle, cut out a small square from gold or yellow paper and affix it to the band. Once completed, these cups can stand upside down, resembling pilgrim hats. They’re not just decorative, though.
They’re functional and can hold crayons, pencils, or markers, making them a perfect centerpiece for the kids’ table during Thanksgiving dinner.
4. Corn Mosaics
A beautiful celebration of one of the season’s staple harvests, “Corn Mosaics” offer preschoolers a sensory-rich art experience. Begin by supplying the children with an assortment of dried corn kernels, beans, lentils, and seeds. These varied materials provide differing textures and colors, perfect for detailed artwork.
Hand out sturdy cardboard or thick paper as a base for their mosaics. Using glue, children can carefully place the corn and seeds onto the surface in patterns or pictures of their choice.
Whether they decide to make abstract designs, portrayals of turkeys, or even recreations of the Mayflower, the finished product is always a textured masterpiece reflective of the season’s bounty.
5. Native American Headdresses
While it’s essential to approach this activity with sensitivity and respect for indigenous cultures, crafting “Native American Headdresses” can serve as an educational gateway. Use this opportunity to teach children about the indigenous people of America and their vital role in the First Thanksgiving.
To create a simple headdress, measure a band of construction paper to fit around each child’s head. Allow them to glue or tape colored feathers (real or crafted from paper) to the band.
As they work on their headdresses, discuss the significance of such adornments in Native American culture, ensuring the activity remains a respectful and enlightening experience.
6. Thanksgiving Story Stones
“Thanksgiving Story Stones” are a captivating way to merge the artistry of painting with the wonder of storytelling. To prepare, select a series of smooth, flat stones—preferably ones that fit comfortably in a preschooler’s hand.
Then, paint or draw distinct symbols of Thanksgiving onto each stone: perhaps a turkey, a slice of pie, a cornucopia, a pilgrim hat, or a feather. Once the painted stones are dry, children can draw from a bag or basket filled with these story stones and use them as prompts to create or narrate tales.
These stones can help children understand the different elements of Thanksgiving, boost their imagination, and even improve their public speaking skills as they share stories with peers or family.
7. Mini Mayflower
The “Mini Mayflower” project brings the historical journey of the pilgrims to life in an engaging, hands-on manner. Provide children with recycled materials like small boxes, egg cartons, popsicle sticks, and cloth scraps.
They can then craft their representation of the Mayflower, the famous ship that brought the Pilgrims to America. Once the ships are crafted, fill a tub or basin with water and let the children float their creations.
As they play, it’s an ideal time to narrate the story of the Mayflower’s voyage, introducing them to the challenges and adventures of the pilgrims.
8. Pumpkin Play Dough
Crafting with “Pumpkin Play Dough” combines the sensory delights of squishy dough with the thematic essence of Thanksgiving. Prepare a batch of homemade play dough, adding orange food coloring and a touch of pumpkin spice for that authentic fall aroma.
Once the dough is ready, distribute it among the preschoolers along with craft embellishments such as googly eyes, pipe cleaners, beads, and buttons.
Encourage them to mold and decorate their pumpkin-inspired designs or creatures. This activity not only hones their fine motor skills but also fills the room with the festive scent of pumpkin, amplifying the holiday atmosphere.
9. Thanksgiving Parade
With the “Thanksgiving Parade” activity, children get to manifest their interpretation of the grand parades they might’ve seen on TV or in person. Provide toy cars, shoeboxes, construction paper, markers, and other decorative materials.
They can then design their parade floats, attaching them to the toy cars. Once every child has their float ready, line them up and start the parade, complete with music in the background.
This imaginative play allows them to interpret what they feel is important or festive about Thanksgiving, while also giving them a sense of community as they parade together.
10. Corn Husk Dolls
An homage to an age-old craft, making “Corn Husk Dolls” introduces children to the resourcefulness of both early settlers and Native Americans, who believed in using every part of the crops they cultivated.
For this craft, dried corn husks, which can be found in craft stores or sometimes with culinary ingredients, are soaked in water until pliable. After they’re softened, the husks can be folded, twisted, and tied to form dolls. Children can add additional features using yarn, fabric scraps, or beads.
As they craft, share with them the history and significance of corn husk dolls in Native American culture and how such dolls symbolize the beauty of nature and the value of resourcefulness.
11. Gratitude Jar
The “Gratitude Jar” is a heartwarming and introspective activity designed to instill the core value of thankfulness in young minds. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, introduce preschoolers to a designated jar, explaining that it’s a special place to capture moments, things, or people they’re grateful for.
Each day, children can reflect on what makes them feel happy or thankful, jotting down their thoughts on a slip of paper (or having an adult transcribe for them). They can then fold their notes and place them into the jar. As the jar gradually fills up, it becomes a tangible representation of all the joy and gratitude in their lives.
On Thanksgiving Day, gather around and make it a communal activity to read each note aloud. Sharing these sentiments with family or peers fosters a profound sense of community, allowing everyone to appreciate the little things that bring happiness to their daily lives.
This tradition not only emphasizes the true meaning of Thanksgiving but also cultivates a lifelong habit of recognizing and cherishing the blessings that surround us.
In our fast-paced, digitally-driven world, the essence of Thanksgiving often gets obscured behind grand feasts and festive decorations. But as we dive into these activities tailored for the preschoolers among us, we’re reminded of the raw, unfiltered essence of the holiday—gratitude, connection, and the simple joys of hands-on creativity.
Through the innocent eyes of children, we’re offered a chance to reacquaint ourselves with the holiday’s core. Each corn husk doll, hand-painted story stone, or note in the gratitude jar isn’t just a craft; it’s an embodiment of the profound connections and heartfelt thank-yous that we sometimes forget to vocalize.
As we head into the Thanksgiving season, let’s not just teach our children but learn from them too. Let their unbridled enthusiasm and simplicity inspire us to step back, cherish the intangibles, and truly embrace the spirit of giving thanks.
For in the end, isn’t the purest form of gratitude found in the simple act of recognizing and celebrating our blessings, no matter how big or small?