If you’re hosting a family gathering or party for Thanksgiving, you want to create a fun family environment that helps children understand the importance of thankfulness and reminds the adults of this as well. Some of these fun Thanksgiving activities would also work well for classrooms.
Since Thanksgiving comes just before what many refer to as the “greedy” season, activities designed to remind people of the bounty in their lives are useful. For example, you might help children understand that while they don’t have everything they want, they do have everything they need. Be careful not to overdo the turkey aspect of Thanksgiving. Some children forget that it’s about more than the turkey. Playing some fun games can help them remember the purpose of Thanksgiving.
For some thinking fun, have kids do a word find with Thanksgiving words. There are many free sources online to create and print them. Crosswords are available as well. Another option is to provide them with words related to Thanksgiving such as “Mayflower.” Players can find new words using the letters contained within those words. They might find words like “flow,” “relay,” “yam,” and the like. An additional challenge would be to award a bonus for words that also relate back to Thanksgiving.
Fun with Food
The old memory game is always fun and can be used for Thanksgiving too. Have someone start the game by saying, “At Thanksgiving, I like to eat” and then finish it with one food item. So that player might say, “At Thanksgiving, I like to eat turkey,” and the next one will say, “At Thanksgiving, I like to eat turkey and cranberry sauce.” The third participant would continue with, “At Thanksgiving, I like to eat turkey and cranberry sauce and green beans.” The game continues on until the list becomes so long, that someone is sure to forget an item. You can either start the game over or keep going until there is one player left.
Arts & Crafts
While turkeys decorated on the outline of the hand are classic, creating a cornucopia centerpiece is one of the most longstanding of Thanksgiving activities. It also conveys an important lesson about celebrating and appreciating the bounty at the Thanksgiving table. There are a variety of ways to do this. You can make a papier-mâché cornucopia using a balloon as the base to help you get the shape started. Another option is to simply take a large piece of poster board, shape it into a cone and decorate it however you like.
A cornucopia celebrates the plentiful fall harvest and traditionally is filled with squash, corn and the like. You might also ask each member of the family to bring something that represents their personal bounty in life. A new mom might bring a baby blanket to put in the cornucopia while a newly retired grandpa might add a picture of his family, since that’s what’s most important to him. You can discuss the items in the cornucopia basket at the dinner table while enjoying your Thanksgiving feast.
Another activity that kids like is the thankfulness jar. When each person arrives at dinner, they place a note with something they are thankful for in the jar. Ideally, each person will add more than one item to the jar. At dinner, someone, usually the host or patriarch (or matriarch) of the family, reads the notes. Everyone tries to figure out who wrote which note. The items can range from the serious (a person who struggled with an illness might be thankful for life, health, etc.) to the silly (a new mom might be thankful there’s a Starbucks within 5 minutes of home). Kids enjoy adding their own touches to the thankfulness jar, and their responses are often a surprise to the adult family members.
Who’s ready for some Thanksgiving trivia? It could be a trivia game out of Thanksgiving facts with questions like,
- How many turkeys are cooked on Thanksgiving throughout the US?
- Why are turkeys called turkeys?
- Which president set aside the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving?
Some of the questions could include fun facts about other family members.
- Who got popcorn stuck in her braces at 12?
- Whose grandparents immigrated to the US from Ireland?
- Which boy here got suspended from school for riding his bike into the classroom?
Prizes can be just about anything. Choices could include first pick of the desserts, one of the table decorations, or little goodie bags for the kids, perhaps from leftover or clearance Halloween candy.