Thanksgiving is on Thursday but it’s not too late to plan some fun and easy Thanksgiving crafts for your toddler. These activities were all done with my kids when they were toddlers ( 18 months – 3 years old) but have been repeated when they were older so rest assured that older siblings will love to join in on these easy Thanksgiving activities too. Check out our tips below to make these crafts even easier and more successful with your children.
This post is filled with advice for crafting with toddlers from accepting mess aversion to choosing good tools like plastic plates but this is my favorite –>
Tip: If your child uses a booster for meals pop them in it when you are doing messy art too. This will relax you so you can both enjoy creating without worrying about Jr. running for the living room covered in red paint.
Explore the texture of the bubble wrap and have fun with this easy activity. Be prepared for aversion too. My son hated it the first time so we rolled with it . Later we followed this favorite tip for success.
Tip: wrap the bubble wrap around a rolling pin for easy printing.
Use glitter glue for a lower mess glitter craft.
Tip : Use baby wipes for messy hands if a sink isn’t right there. They have saved use from many big messes.
We use mini pumpkins as decorations throughout the fall. A few days before Thanksgiving cut one open and paint with it.
Tip: For kids that aren’t keen on wearing smocks find a few tee shirts at a garage sale that you don’t care if it’s stained forever and wear those on painting days.
This has never been our most popular Thanksgiving craft but my kids loved making it so I love sharing it.
Tip: When doing handprint crafts with toddlers that call for multiple hand cut outs layer multiple papers under tracing and cut instead of tracing their hands multiple times.
If you aren’t ready to hand your child scissors yet this activity is great. Tearing paper still builds hand muscles that are required for later scissor and handwriting skills.
Tip : Pre-cut strips of paper that are manageable for little hands.
Mess is hard for a lot of parents. I get it because I try to keep my house in order too and kids have a way of following behind us and messing up what was just cleaned. Sensory play is so valuable for kids as they explore cause and effect, measurement, imaginative play, and more.
Tip : If your child is prone to dumping sensory materials have them sit on a carpeted floor. The materials won’t scatter as far ( or be as much fun to dump) and will be easy to vacuum up.
Painting with turkey basters is fun and squeezing the bulb is actually great for hand strength too. Yes it’s messy but the post is filled with tips to minimize it including –>
Tip : When painting with tools like a turkey baster after painting pop the kid and the tool into the bath and let them get clean together. After the bulk of the paint it off in the bath you can put the tool into the dishwasher for a final clean.
Toddlers may not be able to read and write yet but they can express likes and dislikes. Use a thankful box to teach them to show appreciation for those things they like by modeling.
Tip : When teaching abstract concepts like being thankful to toddlers including a concrete activity like making the box or decorating a jar for the tokens of appreciation to be kept in can create a connection that simple talking about being thankful may not.
This post is a perfect example about being flexible with toddlers. My son who was 3 at the time wanted to include his construction vehicles in the play. With a a few simple additions I was able to include them in and the craft took on an element of imaginative play too.
Tip : Be flexible and let your toddler have some control over their creation.
What is your best tip for crafting with toddlers?
People have been making paper bag turkey crafts for ages but I still wanted to share this one because of how we made it and how my daughter was able to play as soon as the last piece was on. It’s the perfect low mess make and take craft for your kid guests at Thanksgiving dinner.
Gather your materials. You will need some paper bags, crayons, party streamers ( I save all extras from birthday parties), googly eyes, orange and red construction paper, scissors and permanent double stick tape.
Next invite your puppet maker to color their turkey. My daughter took her time taking off all the paper from the crayons first. This was an unintended fine motor skill activity in the middle of our main craft.
Do you need some Thanksgiving books to go a long with this craft? Check out our newest Thanksgiving Book List.
Last week when I published our Thanksgiving Spelling Stones I promised that I had another simple activity to do with the stones. This is it. It was a rainy day ( can you tell by the not so great pictures?) but I wasn’t ready to turn the TV on yet. This simple game got them moving, playing together , and working on their own levels at the same time. I will be making many more sets of these stones to do this activity and others throughout the year. To find out how to make the stones themselves check out our spelling stones tutorial.
Before your kids start searching. Tell them the word / words you will be spelling and how many stones total they are searching for. This helps sneak in a wee bit of math.
Once all letters are in the basket start piecing together the word. At first my son started doing this step all by himself but I asked him to slow down and ask his sister to find him the letter he needed to spell from the bunch. This let him work on spelling and gave her a chance to work on letter recognition.
Told you it was simple, but hopefully I showed you how many little tidbits of learning you could fit into it too.
Check out some great Thanksgiving Books For Kids.
Creating two activities with the same materials for two very different abilities is one of my favorite challenges. These turkey cork boards made it simple. My daughter matched colors and naturally counted the feathers upon completion. My son loved the fact families and the novelty of using thumbtacks made it all the more fun. This Thanksgiving math activity was a huge hit at our house!
Color Sorting Turkeys
Fact Family Turkeys
I invited my math whiz and he jumped right in to pinning the feathers. I did not keep all the fact families on the same color feathers because I did not want him to simply match the colors. This activity could be adapted to any math ability. You could match numbers, match digits to tally marks , do odds and evens… they sky is the limit!
Books About Math
Check out our books about math for fun counting books and more for kids!
Who says spelling lessons have to be boring and can’t have a theme? These spelling stones are a fun Thanksgiving craft and spelling activity rolled into one. Create a challenge by asking ” How many words can we make with the word Thanksgiving?” and use your child’s natural competitiveness as fuel for learning. The stones themselves are a great concrete manipulative that are a must for some learners and a nice novelty for others. I have had the idea for this for ages but making the stones seemed daunting. It took a few minutes and less than an hour later my son was playing and learning. Wish I’d done it sooner!
Gather your materials. You will need some stones ( dollar store! ) , multi-surface paint , a fine paint brush, clipboard, paper, and pencil.
Start by writing out thanksgiving on the stones. I used all lowercase letters so they would be interchangeable. I also made a color pattern but that’s just because I think patterns are pretty. I used a shoebox lid for a workspace. These paints are not washable so I like to protect what I can. Also the kids did not help make these.
Let dry. Ours took about 45 minutes to dry. Only one letter got damaged. If you are using these with a large group where they will be used a lot I would seal them but if it’s just in your home I wouldn’t bother.
What I love about using manipulatives to make words before writing them down is that when he was sounding out words he didn’t get frustrated if something didn’t seem right. He just replaced a stone with another. There was no erasing needed and for kids who have a deep desire for perfection that can be freeing.
Have your child write the word after making it with the stones. This is optional but I like adding in writing whenever I can. All my sneaking writing into things have really paid off. My son who struggled with it last year has made such progress in part because of a little here and a little there. Seeing the list grow and grow also encourages kids to keep trying to create more words.
This won’t be the last of these stones either… hang tight because in a few days I will have a totally different but totally fun activity using them again.
Thanksgiving BooksAll book lists include affiliate links.
Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving by Kimberly and James Dean was underwhelming and I usually adore Pete The Cat. Sadly this book didn’t live up to my expectations. My daughter liked it but wondered when Pete was going to sing. He doesn’t. There are no catchy repetitive refrains which is what we love about Pete! My son pointed out the flaws in the history which thrilled me because they were distracting. The target audience is younger than my son so it may not even be an issue for you but seeing a pretty little house as the shelter the Pilgrims had for the first winter irked me. I realize that Pete is a cat who is in a play so realism isn’t expected but I’d be lying if I said I loved it. Pete is awfully cute as a pilgrim though.
Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes delighted my whole family. I read it at dinner and all four of us thought the book was spot on. It’s not a story so much as a glimpse at all the things kids in a average family have to be thankful about. The illustrations by Doris Barrette are stunning. I want to frame them. I think this book does a great job at teaching children what they have to be thankful for and how everyday things can be something to be thankful for. Kids will relate so well to this book and because of that the message comes across loud and clear. My son loved that there is space on the last page to write what he is thankful for. Great find.