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Thanksgiving Traditions and Activities for Kids and Families

Updated on October 16, 2008

Whether you’re looking for a way to connect this Thanksgiving, or just get the kids out of your hair long enough to open a can of cranberry sauce, these fun Thanksgiving activities can help. Try a few – they just may become traditions that get passed down in your family for generations to come!

Gratitude Box  A gratitude box not only helps kids focus on the Thanks in Thanksgiving, but also help to build up excitement for turkey day. Choose and decorate a box or jar. Every day leading up to Thanksgiving, have everyone in the family write something they’re grateful for on a slip of paper and put it in the box – secret ballot style! A variation is to leave the Thanks box out all year and collect even more things to appreciate!

Craft Station  I will have five children in the house this Thanksgiving, ranging in age from 3 to 10. To keep them all busy (at least for 20 minutes or so….) I plan to set up some craft supplies in an out of the way (and easily clean-up-able) spot. I’ve got markers, scraps of scrapbook supplies, fabric, and beads to spare. If I’m lucky, I’ll convince them to make those chains out of construction paper! Kids can also make ornaments for the Christmas tree.

Guessing Game With Cranberries

 This is something easy that can help add excitement and break up the day if you’ve got a houseful of kids. Fill a jar with fresh cranberries. Have everyone (not just the kids) guess how many cranberries are in the jar. When it is time to count, have the kids come up with their own methods of estimation. Then have the older ones do the counting! Make sure there’s a good prize for the winner!

 Notes of Thanks  Set up and area with colorful paper and pens and pencils for kids to write thank you notes to whomever or whatever they want. They can thank people like family, friends, or teacher. Or they can thank God, the sky, their toys. You get the idea. Let them explore their own feelings of gratitude. It’s all good!

Thanksgiving Bingo  What kid doesn’t love bingo? Print out free Thanksgiving picture bingo cards here and use candy corn for space markers! You can either draw straws to determine the lucky grown-up who gets to call, or assign the duty to an older child.

Thanksgiving ‘MadLib’  Remember MadLibs? They’re stories with some words left out. Kids fill in the blanks with nouns, verbs and adjectives to create hilarious and sometimes memorable stories! Print a free version of a free printable Thanksgiving MadLib here and here.

Tree Trim on Black Friday  If you’re trying to cut back this year, stay in this Black Friday and use the time together to put up your tree. Make it festive with special hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. (You don’t have to be an overachiever on this – kids dig slice-and-bake!) If you can’t forego your early morning shopping tradition, go out to coffee with your friends early and bring back donuts for the rest of the clan!

More Thanksgiving Fun:

Thanksgiving Prayers and Other Expressions of Gratitude for Children

Kid-Friendly Vegetable Recipes for Thanksgiving

Keep Kids Entertained on Thanksgiving Day

Best Thanksgiving Books For Kids


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