Keep Temper Tantrums at Bay With These Thanksgiving Activities for Toddlers

Crafts, Kids Activities
man and baby playing with autumn leaves Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. That means there’ll be loads of celebrations and family events that will keep everyone busy, especially the adults.

Unfortunately, juggling your time between entertaining your guests and kids is going to be a handful. But it doesn’t have to be.

We’ve listed 15 Thanksgiving activities for toddlers that will help keep the little ones engaged while you catch up with family and friends and enjoy a relaxing time during the holidays. You’ve earned it, after all.

15 Fun Preschool Thanksgiving Activities for Kids 

1. Raised salt turkey painting

First off on our list is called raised salt turkey painting. All you’ll need are these simple materials:

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Salt
  • Glue
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolor paint

Once you have the materials, lay them down on a table and have the kids draw a big fat turkey. Then mix the watercolor or food coloring with the salt. Trace the sketch with glue and immediately sprinkle the salt on the adhesive. The result is an artful turkey representation raised on a paper with the salt and watercolor/food coloring combo.

2. Thanksgiving back-and-forth

For this activity, you’ll need some paper and drawing materials. The idea here is simple.

  • The first kid will draw one part of a turkey or any symbol representing the holidays.
  • The second kid will add another part.
  • This will go on until the entire symbol has been completed.

An activity like this will put your kids’ creativity and cognitive skills to the test. They could even go beyond a single object and draw all the symbols they think represent the holiday. 

3. Marble painting

Marble painting is a classic kid’s activity that combines motor skills and creative thinking. To get started, prepare these materials:

  • Plastic cups
  • Watercolor
  • Marbles
  • Paper
  • Paper clip or paper fasteners
  • Folder or a small cardboard

Then, secure the paper on the folder or cardboard with a paperclip. Fill the plastic cups with different colored water.

The kids will dip the marble in the plastic cup, place it on top of the paper/cardboard, then tilt it so the marble rolls around. The goal is to create sketches of different Thanksgiving symbols. Mistakes are highly encouraged as they’ll produce hilarious depictions.

4. Thanksgiving felt banner

This puzzle-like game will keep your kids’ brains active during the holiday. Gather these simple materials:

  • Felt with different colors
  • Paper
  • Strings
  • Chopsticks

Once you have the materials, cut the felt in different shapes of a turkey or any object associated with the holiday. Have your kids assemble the felt while you prepare food for the guest.

Once this is done, pierce the paper with a chopstick and tie pieces of strings at the end of the chopstick. Hang the artwork in front of the doorway to greet guests. Or display them around the house so it looks like the guest is entering an art gallery.

5. Thanksgiving suncatchers

Here’s a toddler’s Thanksgiving delight. For this activity, you’ll need:

  • Wax paper
  • Colored tissue paper
  • Blue
  • Water
  • Paintbrush
  • Craft sticks, paper plate (optional)

Cut out the color tissue paper into smaller pieces. They can be whatever shape you like.

Mix the glue and water in a small bowl until you achieve a runnier consistency. Brush the glue/water on the wax paper and then stick the cutout color tissue paper.

The kids can create whatever Turkey Day symbols they like such as turkey (of course), fallen leaves, pilgrims, cornucopias, etc.

If you want, you can create a frame for the artwork. Glue four craft sticks at the corner to create the frame. Or you could cut the middle part of the paper plate and place the finished artwork at the center.

6. Playdough

This one’s pretty straightforward. Prepare a playdough set for the kids and have them create Thanksgiving symbols.

For added effect, replace your regular playdough with glow-in-the-dark playdough. Once your kids are finished with their art, place them in a mason jar.

7. Peel and reveal

Peel and reveal is a great Thanksgiving activity for toddlers. Prepare the following materials:

  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paintbrush
  • Stickers
  • Crayons

Have your child decorate the watercolor paper with painter’s tape, stickers, and crayons. Then paint the paper and wait until it’s dry.

Once dry, remove the tape and stickers, which will leave a bright white design. Moreover, the crayon will act as a repellent to the watercolor, creating more “white space”.

8. Nature’s frame

If your children are nature lovers, they’ll love this one. Prepare these simple items:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • An old photo

The photo can be anything, but it would be a lot more fun to mix it up with Thanksgiving imagery. 

Have your kids go outside and collect anything they see near the house. Twigs, pebbles, fallen leaves, pieces of a pumpkin, and the like.nThen glue these objects on the side of the photo. You can have your kids use scissors to cut out the leaves in any shape. 

9. Gourd Turkeys

Your kids can take a simple gourd and bring it to life with their imagination. All they need is a gourd, some feathers, and googly eyes. Glue the feathers and googly eyes on the gourd and, voila! You now have a cute little gourd fellow. 

10. Hanging Autumn Leaves

Simply going outside already counts as a fun Thanksgiving activity. But you can spice this up a little by having your kids find the biggest autumn leaves they can find in your backyard. Then, have them attach a piece of string on each leaf, and hang the leaves on a long thread against a wall. You now have an instant Thanksgiving decoration!

11. Friendly Fox

If your kids gathered a lot of leaves, they could also create a friendly fox out of them. First things first, gather these materials:

  • Fallen leaves
  • Pinecones
  • Google eyes
  • Glue
  • Felt
  • Paper

Attach around three leaves on the paper using glue. Make sure the leaves are upside down.

The base will act as the head while the tapered side will be the snout. Attach googly eyes on them. Finally, place the felt on top of the head for the ears. Now your kids have friendly foxes.

12. Gratitude Jar

This one’s a little different as it involves reliving joyful memories. Take a piece of paper and have your kids write down 10 or 20 things they’re thankful for.

It can be anything. A simple car ride to the park. Making cookies on a Sunday afternoon. Or a bedtime story they heard the other night.

After they’re completed, keep these memories in a mason jar. What’s great is they could revisit these memories for the next Thanksgiving. 

13. Thanksgiving scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great way to keep kids preoccupied while you prepare your Turkey Day feast. And the best thing about it is you can have them hunt clues in areas around the house away from the kitchen.

As for what they’ll be hunting, that’ll be up to you. Here are some ideas:

  • Turkey figurines
  • Pumpkins
  • Corns
  • Acorns
  • Autumn leaves
  • Pilgrim hats 

14. Feed the turkey

Feeding the turkey can encourage your kids’ motor and color identification skills. Prepare these items:

  • Mason jar
  • Googly eyes
  • Colored cotton balls
  • Cutout felt

Have the kids attach the googly eyes and felt, with the latter acting as the tail. Afterward, they can “feed” the colored cotton balls to the turkey. The challenge is to identify which colors go where so by the end, the turkey represents the real game bird.

15. I Spy Game

This is the simplest toddler Thanksgiving activity on this list. Buy an I Spy Game and have them identify as many Thanksgiving symbols as they can.

But if you want something more challenging, buy one that’s similar to a Where’s Waldo game. Only this time, Waldo is a turkey hiding within a sea of other objects.

Plan a Fun and Memorable Thanksgiving

Keeping your kids from being bored during the holidays is a must if you wish to have enjoyable celebrations sans temper tantrums. 

For other amusing activities and related reading, visit the Rayito de Sol blog.

November 22, 2021