Thanksgiving Doodle Mats

My kids love dry erase activities and these mats were fast to make and they both enjoyed creating with them. They would be perfect for wiggly kids at the  Thanksgiving dinner table before pie is served or on the long road trip to Grandma’s .  With both the dinner plate and Mayflower scenes you can use different prompts and questions to extend the drawing. I have included suggestions below in the tutorial.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some inexpensive canvases or another hard board for a backing, some construction paper , double stick tape, scissors and contact paper. For the Thanksgiving dinner mat I used the plate and fork from Melissa & Doug’s Make-A-Meal Sticker Pad because it’s just so cute and we’d been playing with it earlier so it was fresh in my mind. 
  2. For the Mayflower mat start by cutting out a boat. I could have sworn I had brown paper but no, so I colored some white brown with a marker. Cut some sails, and land as well.
  3. Piece together and secure on a sheet of blue paper with double stick tape.
  4. Cover with contact paper.
  5. For the Thanksgiving dinner mat cut out the plate and fork and tape to a sheet of construction paper.
  6. Cover with contact paper.
  7. Time to create.  I handed my son the Mayflower one and asked a few questions . ” How do you think you would feel seeing land for the first time after such a long journey?” ” What would you pack if you were leaving your home forever?” ” How do you think the Native Americans felt when they saw the huge ship?”
  8. My daughter joined us and started creating her Thanksgiving dinner. I asked her ” What would you like for Thanksgiving?” I got a big old ” Candy!” as the response. She drew spaghetti and ice cream.  With older children you could divide the plate up and ask them to draw foods from each food group, draw a silly Thanksgiving with just their favorite foods or what they usually have at Thanksgiving and talk about traditions.
  9. They happily created and erased over and over. We use socks that can’t find their mates for erasers. 

 

I have had a hard time over them years finding Thanksgiving books that I felt were fun and educational. These books however fit the bill and are sure to work at your house too. Click through for full reviews of these books and a couple other Thanksgiving favorites.

Candy Corn Counting

Counting is fun, counting candy is even more fun!  This is a great thanksgiving themed math activity that promotes ” Checking your work” something that not only encourages kids to slow down ( something my son needs when doing tasks) but it also builds independence and confidence. Amazingly it wasn’t my kids who ate the candy after this activity was done… I can’t help it candy corn is so yummy! If you are not a fan of using candy for activities you can easily substitute pom poms or pony beads for the candy or make a turkey like the craft that inspired this activity.

  1. Gather your materials. I used a cheap cookie sheet with raised edges to keep the candy corn contained . Also some brown and green construction paper, scissors, tape and a marker. Oh and of course some candy corn.
  2. Start by cutting out the green husks. Please remember perfection is not the point, I don’t have time to spare and know you don’t either.
  3. Cut out the ear of corn.
  4. Tape to the cookie sheet.
  5. Add numbers. Try to add some easy and some more challenging. If it’s too easy it’s boring, too hard and frustration sets in, either way learning falls flat.
  6. Add the corn!
  7. Check your work.
  8. Next I flipped the husks over and wrote new numbers on, I added the corn and my son checked my work. I purposely made mistakes on two of the ears, and asked him how to fix them. He subtracted on one and added to the other. It was a great add on to a simple counting activity. I will be doing more “fix my math” activities in the near future because he loved that.

Toddler Handprint Turkey Craft

Thanksgiving craft

This is not a new craft, handprint turkey crafts in their many variations are everywhere and they should be , they are classic and simply a part of childhood!  This one is adapted for toddlers to make them active participants in the creation of the craft. You can often adapt craft projects meant for older children to a toddler’s ability by using different tools, fewer steps ( less detail) and removing small pieces that may be dangerous.  Also I find with messy crafts like this using a booster that allows you to belt your child in is useful, not to force them in any way to do the craft ( which should not happen) but rather to keep them in one safe place after they have messy hands. No one is calm if their child is making a beeline for the couch with hands covered in paint. This way we can focus on the activity not the mess.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a toilet paper ( or paper towel roll), a paper grocery bag or craft paper, paint, a plastic basting brush and plastic plate, glue , scissors and googly eyes* I used googly eyes because my daughter doesn’t mouth them. If you read my posts from 2008 you will see I never used them when my son was this age, because they would go in his mouth immediately. I still watched her like a hawk and only brought them out when it was time to glue. If your child is like my son , just draw the eyes on like I did with the nose.
  2. Cut open the bag and tape it to the table. I love doing this for toddler art , it’s a drop cloth and project all at once.
  3. Start by tracing their hands 3-5 times on the bag. We did 4 and as you may be able to tell that was not easy. If your child is really resistant trace one hand on a cereal box or other scrap paper then cut it out and use that for a template. Don’t upset them before they even get to make a mess !
  4. Time to paint, add multiple colors on the plate.
  5. See why I used a plastic plate?
  6. Also this brush she is using is a plastic basting brush. I chose it because the bristles are sturdy silicone and have never ripped off despite effort to tear it. It’s also big enough for clumbsy toddler fists to paint with.
  7. Expect them to use their hands , although I should mention some kids at this age start showing a real aversion to getting things on their hands , don’t force them to “relax” , instead offer a wet wash cloth to wipe anything off, and support their play even if it’s not what you expected. Many kids don’t like messy play.
  8. Cut the roll in half. Draw a nose or rather beak for the turkey.
  9. Roll the roll in the paint.
  10. Let dry ( I cleaned up the mess while singing to her and giving the roll a minute to dry ). Add glue to the roll. Help your child place the eyes on the glue.
  11. Let the hand prints dry and cut out.
  12. Add glue to the roll and place the cut out hands on the back as turkey feathers. Tip: Use a clothes pin to hold them in place until the glue dries.
  13. Add this to your holiday mantle.

Clothespin Teaching Turkey

by Katy

For this activity you will need a paper plate, clothes pins, brown and yellow construction paper, scissor, glue, and something to color with. For some reason I had craft confusion and used paint and markers, but that’s overkill.

First, make your paper plate brown–we finger painted because that allows us to work on sensory stuff at the same time. I’m seeing major progress in that my son will paint and also that he’s stopped trying to put the paint in his mouth. Little victories!

Next, cut out a head and beak from the construction paper. Glue them to the plate.

Then you need to color your clothespins. I used markers and did it myself since it’s a little beyond Charlie’s abilities. If your child can do it by themselves, then let them.

Now, for the fun part!

The clothespins become the turkey’s feathers. Use the feathers to do a variety of activities. For us, we were working on identifying colors. You could also do patterns

Since this was our first time doing the activity, we started with only two clothes pins and asked Charlie to select “red” or “blue.” Trying to grab the clothespins has the added bonus of being fine motor practice, but if he’s not able to squeeze properly, they still come off with a tug. If your child has trouble with fine motor, be sure to place the pins far apart to make it easier.

When Charlie correctly identified the blue pin and threw it on the floor, we called it a day!

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Multicultural Thanksgiving Craft For Kids

thanksgiving wreath

 

Learning about the world outside their comfort zone is a essential lesson for children of all ages. Blending geography lessons into art projects is just one way to do it. Although my son is still a little young to get the full objective of this project, he had fun with the art work and we have been saying “Merci” and “Mahalo” all day instead of “Thank You”. With older children you can pull out a map and choose countries from it, then look up how they say thank you for your own wreath.
  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate , multiple pieces of construction paper, scissors, glue, a permanent marker, and your choice of water colors or crayons.
  2. Start my tracing your child’s hand or having them do it themselves. I traced mine first thing this morning and as he was eating breakfast I use it to trace all the other hand prints I needed. Trying to get him to stay still for one hand print was hard enough!
  3. Trace out at least 4 but more is better!
  4. Find all different ways people say thanks. If you have a toddler you will probably want to do this yourself, but I encourage parents with children able to understand to grab a map and explain that in that country children don’t say “Thank you ” in English, instead they speak ______ and say ______ . ( Edited to add Navajo word for Thank You = Ahéhee’)
  5. Write the “Thank Yous” in permanent marker in the middle of the hands.
  6. Have your child decorate the hands. We are using watercolor crayons but plain water color paint works wonderfully and crayons work in a pinch, as would light colored paint. You just don’t want to cover up the words.
  7. Have your child decorate the paper plate.
  8. While they work on the plate cut out the hand prints.
  9. Cut out the middle of the plate.
  10. Time to glue! I put a few globs on where the hands needed to go to guide my son, older kids obviously can do this themselves.
  11. Let dry and add a ribbon!

Book Suggestion

Our book titles are linked to Amazon.com via affiliate links.


Whoever You Are by Mem Fox gives me goosebumps and brought me to tears when I was a homesick Canadian teaching in St. Louis. The book is simple and talks about the differences of little children all over the world, but focuses on what they all have in common. There are beautiful illustrations that show children in all different cultures from around the globe with a sing song story to carry you along. It is a wonderful companion to the activity today.