Thanksgiving can be a busy holiday full of cooking, planning and socializing with your family. Sometimes children can get bored when the adults are so busy. With some simple planning, you can provide fun and creative Thanksgiving activities for children. Basic games can easily be given a Thanksgiving theme, or altered to accommodate a large or small group. Craft projects give children the opportunity to be creative and explore what the holiday means to them.
Let the children work off some of their energy in games such as flag football, freeze tag and hide-and-seek. Add Thanksgiving-themed twists to some of the games. When someone gets tagged in freeze tag, he has to make a gobbling sound until he gets unfrozen. In flag football, cut long turkey feather shapes out of colorful fabric or vinyl and use them as the flags. Play a few rounds of Thanksgiving bowling. Have the children decorate empty two-liter bottles. Then set up the bottles and try to knock them down by rolling a small, round pumpkin or squash. (Make sure it's firm so it doesn't break.) Divide the children into small groups and give each group a bag of props and a scenario to act out. Make the scenarios Thanksgiving-related (for example, the first Thanksgiving or the pilgrims on the Mayflower). Give the groups time to rehearse their skits, then have an after-dinner performance.
If it's too cold to play outside, have a variety of indoor games planned. Take traditional games and give them a Thanksgiving flair. Make Thanksgiving bingo cards and have the children call out "gobble gobble!" when they get bingo. Play "Duck, Duck, Turkey" instead of "Duck, Duck, Goose." To have the children think about one of the meanings of Thanksgiving, have them sit in a circle. A child says one thing she is thankful for, then the next child says that one thing and adds his own. Go all the way around the circle repeating the list and adding one more thing with each child. To get to know extended family members better, give the children a box filled with photographs of grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Whoever identifies the most people gets a prize.
Set up a craft table for the children with construction paper, scissors, glue, tape, crayons, markers, beads, sequins and feathers. You can also provide ready-made Thanksgiving coloring books. The children can make "hand turkeys" by tracing one hand on construction paper, cutting it out and decorating it to look like a turkey. Give everyone a rectangular piece of brown butcher paper and have them decorate their own placemats. You can also give them one large piece of butcher paper that will cover the children's table at dinner, and let them decorate it before the meal. Go on a nature walk and have the children collect items that appeal to them, such as leaves, pebbles, twigs or feathers. The children can use those items to make a three-dimensional collage.