Speech Buddies Parents’ Corner – Thanksgiving Activities for Kids While the Turkey is in the Oven

Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Play this version of Cootie with cookies, M&Ms, and a couple of die borrowed from other games. Image Source: savingcentbycent.com

As Thanksgiving nears, I’m making my shopping lists and strategically planning the baking of pies and sharing oven time with all of the other dishes – for my first official Thanksgiving Day meal we are hosting. That to-do list also includes enough activities and extras for the kids so that they both feel like an important part of the day and also get to do more than twiddle their thumbs while I prepare dinner. These are some of my stand-by games for holidays, along with a few new adventures we are adding to our list of Thanksgiving activities for kids.

5 Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

1. Make Some Popcorn – My kids absolutely adore the poem The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven by Jack Prelutsky and love to toss around some popped corn while they recite it. The snack is easy to make, not very filling, and will tide the kids over until dinner.

2. Sing Some Thanksgiving Carols – Yes – there are some not so traditional Thanksgiving songs that we love to sing around here. I just prop up my tablet on the kitchen counter and we jam to some not so popular hits (but popular with the kids).

  • Thanksgiving Songs – a list of songs to be sung to familiar tunes
  • Thanks a Lot, by Raffi (one of my favorites for little ones!)

  • Count Your Blessings, by Bing Crosby
  • Thanksgiving Prayer, by Johnny Cash (sung on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman)

3. Make Personalized Placemats – For holidays, birthdays, or boredom busting days, we make our own placemats for the dinner table. Legal sized paper works best, but an 8″x11″ will work well, too. You can print coloring pages for the kids or let them design their own – and this works for many different ages. For Thanksgiving we are printing Thanksgiving-themed borders and then the kids will add words and/or pictures in the middle, giving the guests their own personalized placemats with all of the reasons the kids find them special. I have a laminator I like to use on projects such as this, but you can just use the paper as is.

Letting kids help create the placemats keeps little hands busy and encourages them to feel like a special part of the celebration. You can print pictures and let them color, or let them completely design their own. Image Source: http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/IMG_1209.png

4. Make a Menu Board – Assign one of the kids to make a menu board that lists all of the food that you are serving that day, drawing pictures too. Chalk boards, dry erase boards, tag-board, or plain paper all work. You can also have your older child do a little bit of research about the first Thanksgiving to see what would have been on the menu that day and make a comparison menu. You can even turn an old TV tray into a menu board with chalkboard paint for the kids to use. Here are four great resources about the 1st Thanksgiving menu to get you started:

Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Turn an old TV tray into a chalkboard for the kids to use as a menu board. Chalkboard paint is readily available at most hardware stores. Image source: www.yourhomebasedmom.com


5. Game Time! – We’ll also be watching some football as we prepare our Thanksgiving meal, so why not build on that game theme and give the kids some games to play?

  • Pin the football on the goalpost – We will be playing this one this year in a house of football fans. Create a yellow goal post with paper or even masking tape, then cut out small brown paper footballs for everyone and have them put their names on them. Play like the classic Pin the Tail on the Donkey, except the football to the closest center of the goalpost wins!
Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Pin the football on the goal is an easy game for even the youngest fans, and a wall, door, or garage wall works well. Image source: crazyloucreations.blogspot.com


  • Tabletop football is another easy game for kids to play, and much safer than tossing around a real football. Here are directions for how to make a simple paper ball and play the game – no helmets required!

For those in the house who will survive without football, try some other Thanksgiving games that don’t require a lot of equipment or time.

  • Better Homes & Gardens – There are some great printable Thanksgiving puzzles and word scrambles here for free, but you have to provide your email and create a login, first.
  • Digital Hot Potato – From Family Fun, this modern twist on the Hot Potato game is sure to get some laughs!
  • Thanksgiving Dominoes – by DLTK – this free printable game is perfect for non-readers.

What’s even better is that so many of these Thanksgiving activities not only help keep the kids busy as you prepare dinner, but add to the ambiance and help your child feel a special connection to the day.

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