The Thanksgiving holiday offers vast opportunities to get your children excited about thankfulness to God and giving to others. And, you can get excited about building your children’s character and employing some Thanksgiving fun into your home education. Or maybe you’re you’d like a few hands-on fun or Thanksgiving-themed writing ideas. Whatever the reason, spice up your home education during November with our assortment of non-academic and academic Thanksgiving activities for kids.
After all, part of bringing your kids’ education to life is keeping it fresh by interjecting activities that build character and make activities fun and meaningful.
Active Ideas with Gourds!
So, how about some physical games this Thanksgiving to work off all that food? We have found that when adults participate, the fun is multiplied! (And we are the ones that benefit most from the exercise, right?!)
1. Obstacle course – set up chairs and other small obstacles that you can run around. Have each person use a broom to push a gourd around the obstacle course. It’s not as easy as it sounds! You could set up two courses and have people race, or you could use one course and use a timer to see who’s fastest.
2. Pumpkin bowling – stack plastic cups in a pyramid or use set up empty plastic bottles in a bowling pattern. Take turns rolling pumpkins or gourds to knock down the cups or bottles.
Being Thankful & Building Character
One of the most positive ways we can celebrate Thanksgiving is by expressing thankfulness for all the ways that God blesses us through the people we love and those in the community who serve us.
3. Turkeys of Encouragement – this idea works best if you start a week or two before Thanksgiving to give everyone time to think. Make a turkey, minus the feathers, for each member of your family.
Put the person’s name on the turkey body along with a favorite Bible verse. Hang the turkeys on a wall or door that is easily accessible for every family member. Then, cut enough colorful feathers out of fall-colored construction paper to attach to each turkey.
Place the feathers near the wall or door in an envelope (6×9 envelopes work well) along with a pencil or pen. Everyone, even visitors, can write reasons they’re thankful for that particular person on the feathers and then attach the feathers to the turkeys.
Examples could be: I am thankful you read with me, I am thankful that you work so hard for our family, or I’m thankful that you are so careful with your little sister. You can overlap feathers if necessary.
On Thanksgiving, each person can take down their turkey and read the comments.
You can right-click on the turkey below, print it, and then cut it out. I recommend cutting off the feathers from the picture, then making separate “feathers” that can be glued on the turkey body. Of course, your children will enjoy coloring their turkeys.
4. Thanksgiving Tree – Draw and cut out a tree with empty branches that you can attach to a wall or door. Then make and cut out large construction paper leaves in fall colors. Ask your children what they are thankful for in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and write (or let them write, depending upon their ages) what (or who) they are thankful for on the leaves. Attach the leaves every day until you’ve filled up the tree!
5. Make it a Year of Giving – giving back to others when we have so much shouldn’t be limited to Thanksgiving and other holidays. Thanksgiving offers a wonderful time to brainstorm various ways your family can give to others in need throughout the year. Begin by brainstorming with your children ideas for serving other people. Be sure to allow your children to submit their ideas so they buy into the plan.
You can help them focus by thinking of those who serve us or are in need. For example, sending care packages to soldiers, visiting nursing homes, supporting specific charities, inviting someone who doesn’t have a family to dinner, volunteering at an animal shelter or a hospital, collecting donations to take to Goodwill, having a garage sale, and donating the money to your church or a favorite charity or some ways to give.
And don’t forget to make cards and/or bake cookies for community workers. You can bring gifts to your public library, local police and fire stations, shut-ins, or homeless shelters. (Check their rules first about accepting food before you bake cookies.)
Try to come up with enough ideas to do something once a month or so. Then, grab a calendar and work with your children to schedule a way of giving each month. It’s best to schedule high-exposure opportunities, such as visiting a nursing home or sending a care package to a soldier, for non-holiday months. That’s because so many people contribute during holidays while other times of the year are neglected.
One other idea is for you to make homemade cards for your elderly relatives that could live in another state. Getting homemade cards in the mail is a huge blessing for an elderly relative, especially if they have lost a spouse and are now living alone.
By your next Thanksgiving, you can delight in remembering the ways your family gave to others, being Christ to them!
Editor’s note: this post has affiliate links to items we have used and loved. Should you buy anything with an affiliate link, we could make a small commission at no extra cost to you. But you have our undying thanks for supporting us in this way!
6. Cornucopia to share – sometimes children feel small or less than useful because they don’t realize all of the ways they can be helpful! Use a basket or a cornucopia and fill it with dried corn, small gourds, fall leaves, pine cones, dried berries, or fall fruit.
Help your child brainstorm ways that he or she can help others: praying for someone, specific cleaning ideas, sending a card, reading to a sibling, helping out a neighbor, etc.
Write each of these ideas on a small pumpkin-shaped (or another fall shape) piece of paper, then hole punch and tie each, using colorful fall ribbon, to one of the items in the cornucopia. Have your child select one each day to do throughout the holiday season.
Thanksgiving Educational Activities for your kids
Incorporating these Thanksgiving-themed activities for your kids can spice up your home education.
7. Vocabulary cup – use the pattern on page 56 in The Big Book of Books and Activities: An Illustrated Guide for Teachers, Parents, and Anyone Who Works With Kids! Have your child fold the cup. Then, have your child brainstorm Thanksgiving words that come to mind (thankful, Pilgrims, turkey, etc.) and have your child write each word on corn, leaf, turkey or another seasonal cut-out. If you don’t want your child to cut out the shapes, you can find them pre-cut in school supply stores. Older children can draw the words out of the cups to write sentences and/or paragraphs.
8. Word games – holidays are an excellent time to use word games. Have your student write words and phrases of things for which he is thankful, using the acrostic for THANKS.
9. Make your own Word Puzzles – I love this free site and used it to make a variety of puzzles for my kids. You can make crosswords, word searches, and more. First, put in your words (and clues, depending upon which puzzle you’re making) and then simply print them. You can have your child illustrate the white space at the bottom of the page.
10. Thankful-for-you Notes – Another idea to consider is using this time to have your children write “thankful for you” notes to people explaining why they’re thankful for them. You can use this time to teach the friendly letter format and use this software to create a template for your children to follow. It’s a great opportunity to teach your children to write a note even when they haven’t received a gift!
11. Thanksgiving-related writing – This can be a writing assignment on:
- the first Thanksgiving
- Thanksgiving Menus Then and Now
- Thanksgiving Traditions in other countries (Yes, there are Thanksgiving celebrations in other countries, although they may be very different.)
Alternatively, you could have your younger children do a handwriting assignment or copywork, such as a Bible verse about giving thanks. If you have younger children, choose some of the first two books below to read aloud.
You can assign your older elementary and middle school children copywork from the last two books listed below.
For high school students, you might have them copy the Thanksgiving poem, Ballad of the Mayflower, found below, for their Thanksgiving writing activity.
Ballad of the Mayflower
By Linda G. Paulsen
There was a ship, Mayflower by name; Hey, Ho~
Took a trip, she crossed the main; Hey, Ho~
Full of people seeking peace,
Praying for freedom to increase;
Hey, Ho, Dee-o, Dee-o! The Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock; Hey, Ho~
Simple people, sturdy stock; Hey, Ho~
To be free, they crossed the sea,
Thanked the Lord on bended knee; Hey, Ho, Dee-o, Dee-o!
How when the crops were gathered in; Hey, Ho~
A dinner party did begin; Hey, Ho~
Pilgrims, Indians, pumpkin pie, Turkey, venison, corn, oh my!
Hey, Ho, Dee-o, Dee-o! Bet you thought my song was done; Hey, Ho~
But I’ve really just begun; Hey, Ho~
Ever since that autumn day,
Thanksgiving has been here to stay, Hey, Ho, Dee-o, Dee-o!
Have fun with these Thanksgiving activities for kids!
May God’s blessings pour out over you and your family this Thanksgiving!