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12 Great Thanksgiving Craft Ideas for Kids

Updated on November 15, 2018
VVanNess profile image

Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, blogger at Healthy at Home, and educator. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

My little one has been crazy about crafts this season. Every other morning, he wakes up and says, "It's my turn to come up with a craft." And he does! We've made tons of trees, leaves, turkeys, and all kinds of other animals together using nothing but paper plates, string, paper, scissors, a glue stick, and watercolors.

It's really amazing how creative children can be when just given a pile of materials to create with. Last night we put together an intricate butterfly using white paper painted with dinosaurs and shapes, cotton balls and string for the butterfly body, and glue to hold it all together. For even more fall craft ideas, you'll want to check out my store of articles for the fall.

We've really gone all out too. Everyday we are making fall treats, like our pumpkin donuts and apple coffee cake, we are decorating the house with new crafts and decorations, and we are getting outside to make snowmen, snow angels, and snowballs to throw at each other. My toddler has even insisted on making apple cider, hot tea, or some yummy hot chocolate every day. We really get into the fall season around here.

Have you checked out our Great Books for Kids at Thanksgiving yet? There are some great books in there to give as gifts, or just to surprise your little one this year and teach about hibernation, migration, the weather, the changing colors, etc. In fact, I love mixing all of these goodies together and having some fantastic lessons for my children everyday about the different aspects of fall and Thanksgiving. I just think it pulls it all together and makes it more meaningful for them when you can read a book, do a craft, and then even make a treat from the story.

Let me show you some of the fun crafts we've been doing this month!

Fall Lanterns
Fall Lanterns | Source

Fall Lanterns

These precious creations were so much fun to make and they do double duty lighting our kitchen up at night with pretty fall colors. My toddler loves them so much that he likes to keep them lit all day long.

Supplies Needed:

  • 2 pint jars
  • watercolors
  • brown construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • LED or real candle

Directions:

  1. Make sure that your jars are clean and dry.
  2. Paint with red, orange, yellow, brown, and green watercolors on the outside making sure to put them on pretty thick.
  3. When the paints on your jars are dry, cut out two little miniature tree trunks from brown paper.
  4. Put glue on the jar where the tree trunk will go and press it into place. Then glue over the top of the trunk onto the jar. It's okay if the glue overlaps onto the jar. In fact, it's recommended.
  5. When finished and dry, add your candle inside the jar.

Pumpkin Seed Tree
Pumpkin Seed Tree | Source

With all of the extra pumpkin seeds you will likely have around after carving your pumpkin, or making pumpkin dishes, this is something fun to do with them. Just a heads up, if you roast the seeds first, it may be hard to keep your little one from eating them all before you have a chance to paint them.

Supplies Needed:

  • white paper
  • watercolors
  • pumpkin seeds
  • glue stick or hot glue gun

Directions:

  1. First your pumpkin seeds will need to be dry in order to paint them. You can either dry them on the countertop for a few days first, or roast them in the oven at 300 degrees F for 45 minutes.
  2. When dry and cool, paint your pumpkin seeds with a variety of fall colors and then let the paint dry.
  3. In the meantime, paint a nice tree trunk in brown on your white paper. This will also need to dry.
  4. When everything is ready, use either a hot glue gun or a glue stick to glue each of your painted pumpkin seeds into place.

Colorful Crow
Colorful Crow | Source

Colorful Crow

This was fun because we got to paint my toddler's feet and hands with paint. It was originally going to be a black crow, but my son insisted on purple. Then he got to glue the eyes into place when it was finished.

Supplies Needed:

  • white paper
  • acrylic paint (Hobby Lobby or Micheal's)
  • a child
  • paintbrushes
  • miniature eyeballs
  • glue stick or hot glue gun

Directions:

  1. Start by painting your child's foot in his or her desired color and pressing it into place on the paper. The toes of the footprint are meant to be the bottom of the crow. The heel is the crow's head and face.
  2. After washing your child up. Paint his or her hands with the paint and press them one at a time on top of the crow. The palms of the hand prints should be the middle of the body, and the fingers are the wings. We pressed ours thumbs down.
  3. Wash up, and then before setting it aside, you might want to give the crow some feathers out of his head. This paint will take a little longer to dry as it's acrylic paint. But when it's done, your child can glue some eyes into place and paint on the beak and feet. make sure to let it dry again before moving it.

Cotton Ball Painting
Cotton Ball Painting | Source

Cotton Ball Painting

This one was my son's idea. He's loving the trees this year, and he wanted to try painting with the watercolors and cotton balls. So we painted our individual tree trunks and then, holding a cotton ball in a clothespin, we painted our leaves. They turned out just beautiful, and so different.

Supplies Needed:

  • white paper
  • watercolors
  • at least 2 clothespins
  • a handful of cotton balls

Directions:

  1. Start by painting tree trunks onto your white paper with your brown watercolors.
  2. Then, clip cotton balls into your clothespins.
  3. Dip your cotton ball into one chosen color and dab some "leaves" onto your tree.
  4. When ready to switch colors, I suggest turning the cotton ball in the clothespin to a clean side, or getting a new one.
  5. Let dry before moving.

Hanging Leaves
Hanging Leaves | Source

Hanging Leaves

We enjoy using my son's watercolors so much that we turned it into another craft. This time we pulled out some jewels to make the project even prettier. I really think these turned out quite nice, and they hang over our dining table while we eat every day.

Supplies Needed:

  • white paper
  • watercolors
  • yarn
  • plastic jewels or buttons
  • glue stick

Directions:

  1. We started by painting our white paper with watercolors. We started using only fall colors, and then had so much fun that we branched out.
  2. Allow some time for the papers to dry.
  3. I then drew out some leaf shapes roughly by hand and then cut them out. You could always use these free leaf patterns online.
  4. Glue your jewels or buttons on using your glue stick and let it dry again.
  5. Finally, poke holes in them, just below the stem, and run your piece of yarn through them. Now you can hang them just about anywhere.

Paper Plate Turkey
Paper Plate Turkey | Source

Paper Plate Turkey

This was a super easy craft as all we needed were some basic materials and some creativity. We don't have a heck of a lot of construction paper, so I tried my best to use watercolors as much as possible to create the colors we needed.

Supplies Needed:

  • paper plate
  • white paper
  • watercolors
  • scissors
  • glue stick

Directions:

  1. Start by painting your paper plate with watercolors. We painted the middle brown for the body and on the outside we alternated fall colors for the turkey's feathers.
  2. As the plate was drying, I painted a corner of a piece of white paper yellow for the beak and a patch of it red for the waddle.
  3. I cut eyes out of my white piece of paper and used the water colors to paint eyeballs.
  4. After everything was thoroughly dry, we glued the eyes on, cut the beak and the waddle out and glued them on, and then let it dry one last time.

Handprint Tree
Handprint Tree | Source

Handprint Tree

My son requests to use the acrylic paints in our house as often as he can. He especially loves it when I paint his body to leave prints on paper. I have a fantastic picture from our craft time showing the brown paint all the way down his arm. He had so much fun.

Supplies Needed:

  • white paper
  • watercolors
  • brown acrylic paint
  • paint brush

Directions:

  1. So we started by painting a large circle at the top of the paper for the leaves of the tree. Any fall color was open to being used and my son could paint the circle any way he liked.
  2. We let the paint dry before moving on to the acrylic paint.
  3. When ready, I painted my son's hand and entire arm all the way to the elbow after talking about how he was going to put his arm down on the paper. We even practiced a couple times before I painted his arm.
  4. We both laid his arm and hand on the paper, making sure that his hand print landed squarely in the middle of the watercolor circle he painted and his fingers were spread for the branches.
  5. We then set it aside to dry. It took much longer than the watercolor paint.

Cornstalk Footprints
Cornstalk Footprints | Source

Cornstalk Footprints

This one was fun but a little dicey to figure out. Not only did the paint tickle his feet, but them we had to figure out how to get his to wash his foot between prints. I really think he enjoyed getting carried to the bathroom to wash each foot and sitting in the sink while I scrubbed. Fun fun!

Supplies Needed:

  • white paper
  • acrylic paint
  • paintbrush
  • brown marker

Directions:

  1. This is a multi-stage project. We started by painting each foot one at a time. My son then stood in one chair while I put the paper down in another.
  2. After each footprint, he had to be carried to the sink to wash his foot. But we got both footprints done before letting it dry.
  3. The next stage was painting on the cornstalks, and then drying again.
  4. Finally, to get all of the little individual corn kernels, I used a brown marker and lots of patience.

Handprint Owls
Handprint Owls | Source

Handprint Owls

This project was also a multi-stage one as we had to wait for the acrylic paint to dry between stages. But I think this really turned out cute!

Supplies Needed:

  • white paper
  • acrylic paint
  • paintbrush
  • white paper
  • scissors
  • glue stick

Directions:

  1. I started by painting the tree. The trick is painting the branches far enough apart so the handprints don't overlap. You may want to sketch it out with a pencil first, measuring them off of your child's hands. Or just give a little direction and let your child paint them.
  2. Once the paper has dried, you can resume the project. My son chose red to paint his owls, so that's why they are red. Feel free to choose a better color for yours.
  3. I painted one hand at a time with the paint, turned the paper upside down and tried to aim to get the branches between his fingers and his palm. The fingers are meant to be feathers and the palm the body.
  4. Then we had to let the paint dry again.
  5. In the meantime, I cut out some eyes and we painted some eyeballs.
  6. Then, when the paint was dry, we glued on the eyes and painted a beak and feet.
  7. make sure to let it dry one last time before moving it.

Candy Corn Banner
Candy Corn Banner | Source

Candy Corn Banner

We really wanted to make some decorations for our fireplace and the front window, and as we had paper plates, this only seemed appropriate. It was really fun to paint and even more fun to glue onto string and hang.

Supplies Needed:

  • paper plates
  • watercolors
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • yarn

Directions:

  1. Paint some paper plates to look like candy corn. Candy corns are actually yellow on the outside, orange in the middle and white on the inside, but we painted two versions for fun.
  2. When dry, cut into six pieces.
  3. We used plastic fall leaves to mix up our banners, gluing the candy corns and the leaves in a fun pattern on our string.
  4. Hanging them was a little different. I tried leaving a little room on both sides with extra yarn for tying up. But we had to glue some extra candy corns on to the rest of the string to finish up a banner for our front window.

Geoboard Turkey
Geoboard Turkey | Source

Geoboard Turkey

This wasn't exactly a craft, but more like a fun activity that mommy came up with while we were doing crafts. It was fun to try and come up with different Thanksgiving themed shapes like a pilgrim hat, a turkey, a pumpkin, an acorn, a leaf, etc. with rubber bands on my son's geoboards. He really had to put some thought into how to make the different shapes with his rubber bands. All in all, it was a lot of fun.

Supplies Needed:

  • Different geoboards
  • Many different colors of rubber bands
  • An imagination

Directions:

  1. Start by trying to create one of the above mentioned shapes yourself, and ask your child to try and guess what you are making.
  2. Ask for ways to finish your picture with rubber bands, guiding them as you make decisions and talk through your choices.
  3. Finally, see if they can make some shapes on their own.

Thankful Tree
Thankful Tree | Source

Thankful Tree

Throughout the month of November we are focusing on what we are thankful for in our home. I want my kids to be able to acknowledge all of the wonderful things and people we have been blessed with. It was easy getting started, but when my kids started running out of ideas, I asked them what would happen if only the things they gave thanks for would still be here the next day. Suddenly it was super easy to come up with ideas.

Supplies Needed:

  • construction paper
  • a pencil
  • scissors
  • tape
  • ribbon
  • hot glue gun

Directions:

  1. I decided to hot glue pieces of ribbon to our door instead of trying to do a full tree on our front door because we have a 1 year old that likes to pull things off of the wall. It would have gotten torn within the first few seconds. You can see we already have a piece of ribbon missing. This was also a great way to decorate the door and get it back off easily without damaging the door.
  2. Then we each traced our hands on one sheet of paper and I cut out four sets of prints from the first outlines.
  3. Every day we sit at dinner and discuss what we are thankful for, with my husband and I also creating thankful hands.
  4. Then we take turns taping them up to the door.
  5. It's been a great way to be thankful as a family. Even the little one got his own hand prints on the door. It's pretty easy to know what he's thankful for.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to teach your children about being thankful. We spend the whole month discussing all of the wonderful things we've been blessed with, and the reason we celebrate. What a great time to also discuss the story of the First Thanksgiving!

We have the freedoms that we do in this country because a group of brave travelers decided that they had had enough of someone else telling them what their rights were and what they could and couldn't do, even in their own homes. They got in a boat, sometimes leaving their families behind so they could find a better opportunity for themselves and their children. Many, many people died trying to fight for the chance to be free.

It really is a beautiful story, and provides an amazing opportunity to show just how thankful we should be for the freedoms we have in this country. If you have super small kids, I can understand just enjoying the experience of cutting, gluing and painting with them. But you could at least make it a full experience by including meaningful books, playtime outdoors in the fall weather, and fun cooking experiences.

Make this a fall to remember with your kids, and maybe this can become tradition. For more fun ways to make memories with your kids, check out this article!

© 2018 Victoria Van Ness

Comments

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    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      11 months ago from Fountain, CO

      Thank you! These have all been really fun to do with my little one.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      11 months ago from Norfolk, England

      There's some great ideas there. I love the lanterns. They are really cute.

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