Thanksgiving Games for Kids to Play Outside


Every Thanksgiving, cooks get caught up in the hustle and bustle in the kitchen, football fans become consumed rooting for their favorite team, and children are often left to fend for themselves with TV, toys or video games. Lure kids off the couch and outside with engaging Thanksgiving games that give a little reminder of the history behind "Turkey Day."

Pin the Wattle on the Turkey

Put a Thanksgiving twist on pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with "pin the wattle on the turkey." Draw a large picture of a turkey sans wattle (the red flaps of skin that hang from its throat). Create a wattle to be pinned on the picture. Hang the turkey on an unobstructed fence or wall. One by one, blindfold the children and then spin them around a short distance away from the picture. The disoriented children should then stumble to the picture and try to pin the wattle on the turkey's throat. The closest attempt wins.

Wild Turkey Hunt

Just as the pilgrims and native Americans hunted turkey, so can children with this adaptation of the Easter egg hunt from Prepare for the hunt by individually wrapping turkey-shaped cookies in plastic wrap or foil. Then strategically hide the "turkeys" around the yard. Give children paper bags or baskets to hold their "kill." Send children outside to hunt for a specified period of time or until all of the turkeys have been captured. The child with the most "game" wins. Consider making a map of the hiding spots to ensure sure no turkey remains in the wild.

Cranberry Relay

The cranberry relay game from Hallmark's 1997 "Festive Fall Parties" booklet promotes both friendly competition and teamwork. Line up two teams of children on one end of a yard a set distance from empty bowls for both teams on the opposite end of the yard. Give three raw cranberries to each child on both teams. Give the first child in each line a spoon, into which the child places the three cranberries. Holding the spoonful of cranberries with only one hand, each child must deliver all three cranberries to the appropriate bowl on the other side of the yard. If a cranberry is dropped, the child must replace it and start again. Once all three cranberries are deposited in the receiving bowl, the child runs back to his or her team to pass the spoon off to the next person in line, who puts the three cranberries in it and sets off to deposit them in the bowl. The game continues in this fashion until the first team to get all their cranberries into the receiving bowl wins.

Duck, Duck, Turkey

Try "duck, duck, turkey" instead of duck, duck, goose. Designate one child to be the pilgrim while the other children stand in a circle. The pilgrim walks around the circle tapping each person, calling "duck" until finally the pilgrim surprises a child with the tap and announcement of "turkey." The turkey chases the pilgrim around the circle, trying to catch the pilgrim before the pilgrim steals the turkey's place. If turkey doesn't catch pilgrim, pilgrim remains in turkey's spot and turkey becomes pilgrim for the next round. If the turkey catches the pilgrim, the pilgrim must sit in the "mush pot," which is the center of the circle. The pilgrim remains in the "mush pot" until another pilgrim takes his or her place. The turkey becomes the pilgrim for the next round.

Keywords: Thanksgiving games, outdoor games, Thanksgiving activities

About this Author

A proud native of Sacramento, Calif., Ivy Morris began her writing career freelancing music stories for local magazines. She has been writing professionally since 2002. Her feature articles have appeared in "Prosper Magazine," "The Music and Sound Retailer" and "Sacramento Parent Magazine." Morris holds a Bachelor of Arts in government-journalism from Sacramento State University.

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