FREE Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Thanksgiving is well on its way, and there's no short of free time kids will experience during the holidays. Whether you choose to homeschool or send them off to a brick and mortar school, these kids will get "bored." It's always best to have some fun activities up your sleeves for the Thanksgiving break - even better for you if they're free!

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays! It marks the beginning of a parade of family get-togethers, which I always enjoyed. As a child, it was the mark of a wonderful celebration season filled with bright decorations, delicious feasts, laughing bellies, and love. As I turned into a teenager, I was allowed to participate in the mysterious art of Black Friday shopping! It was a coveted experience when you were old enough to learn about the exciting, yet slightly dangerous, deeds that occurred. I accompanied my mother for years before shopping with my stepmother and siblings. We have amazing stories about eating a big dinner, slipping into food comas, then staying out all night. Several years in a row, we’d head home around 2AM, nap again, and head back out with a coffee in our hands.

When we became parents, I was so excited to pass down the traditions! I wanted to help my daughter dress all fancy to just sit around and stuff her face. I wanted to fix my son’s bowties to simply run around with cousins shooting Nerf guns. I craved my kids’ first experience tasting my father’s macaroni and cheese!

Then, my son got sick. We sat in the doctor’s office holding him with a 103 fever, cheeks red as can be, while I also sat there with a high fever. I held him close as they shoved that nasty cotton swab in his nose and the back of his throat. Our poor doctor had the burden of telling me we had the flu, and there would be no Thanksgiving for us.

I dreaded this news, yet, I was forced to live with it. We kept Sister as far away as one could keep a child sharing a room, and we pumped fluids into everyone! The night before Thanksgiving, Courtney ran to the store to grab whatever ingredients she could to put on some kind of feast. She brought home a small chicken (she thought it was a turkey), a pumpkin pie, and some sides. We woke the children up on Thanksgiving morning with the smell of a cooking chicken, though we fibbed and told them it was turkey. We all watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I got to hear the amazement from my kids about the balloons and dancers! I wished I had some fun activities I could’ve partaken in to keep their spirits high.

So, here's the list of free Thanksgiving activities for kids I wish I had that week!

Thanksgiving Traditions

There's a good chance that your family has a list of traditions you try to follow every year. Some of them are geared for the grownups, but they can be easily modified for the kids, too! Plus, there's a vast amount of learning that can be accomplished. Double whammy!

  • Grocery list - Use this time for a great game of "seek and find." Have your child search the pantry and fridge for the ingredients you already have or the ones you're missing. They can practice their best handwriting by writing the item on the list themselves! Bonus: Find some fancy paper and let your child write the list in cursive to make it fancier.

  • Grocery shopping - Again, a perfect time for "seek and find." Have the kids search for the ingredients. If your children are old enough to search the aisles without so much assistance, turn it into a scavenger hunt! The first one who finds everything on their list gets a candy on the way out. If your kids are younger, it's a great way to manage their behavior inside the store - you're involving them, and an involved child is less likely to act out! Bonus: Have children who are capable of doing so add up the totals before getting to the register. If they're close enough to the pre-tax total, award the victor! If they're not victorious, don't make a big deal of it!

  • Cooking - It's tedious and possible to enjoy solo, but try including the children. I won't lie, it may take you longer. Something may not be perfect. But think about how long you're in the kitchen. Now think about how long you spend redirecting the kids. What if you could redirect how their vegetable chopping? Or their mixing of the pie ingredients? At least it would be productive! And they'll love being included and spending all that time with you. Even the youngest kids can help with something! Put some music on and dance in the kitchen! Bonus: Let the kids find a new recipe to try all on their own (if they're old enough)!

Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts

If your kids are anything like mine, they love arts and crafts! My daughter can spend hours on one project, barely glancing up to drink water or go to the bathroom. She has a drawer of loose paper scraps, construction paper, glue, scissors, color pencils, crayons, and markers. She'll go to town the moment she has an idea or once I give her some random topic. This year, we'll be working on these Thanksgiving activities:

  • Table centerpieces - Google some images you love in terms of centerpieces. Turkeys, food, vegetables, and the like. Have kids design their own or copy an extravagant one from the web. Bonus: Laminate the centerpieces if you can!

  • Thankful cards - We all have something to be thankful for this year, so why not turn it into an art project? Cut out shapes (or have them - fine motor skills ahh!) and practice their handwriting by writing what they're thankful for. Let them draw it out, paint it out, whatever they want! Bonus: Punch small holes on the top and thread yarn through them. Hang the Thankful Cards around the house for the company to see! Write one about your kids and hang them in random places for them to find.

  • Native American artifacts - Most people are aware that the original Thanksgiving Day story we grew up listening to isn't exactly what happened. The true story is much more grim and morbid. While we may not be ready to tell the exact details of what occurred back then, this is the perfect time to research some of the tribes and learn about their culture. Try finding some of their artifacts to learn their importance and recreate your own. Maybe your kids can suggest creative ways to turn it into something that means something to them or your family! Bonus: Locate a local tribe and set up a meeting to learn more through a personal interview!

Thanksgiving activities can make or break your holidays. Bored kids can be inspired to find greatness, or they can cause great trouble. The choice is yours!

What are some of your favorite free Thanksgiving activities for kids?

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