Inside: Looking for fun and meaningful Thanksgiving ideas for kids & grandkids? Here are 10 Thanksgiving activities focused on being grateful!
10 Meaningful Thanksgiving Activities for Kids & Grandkids!
It’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving! The holiday that is all about…gratitude!
What makes this holiday special are the gratitude traditions and activities that families incorporate into their celebrations!
To brighten your holiday—here are 10 meaningful Thanksgiving activities for kids and grandkids to celebrate the season. Each one is a reminder of why we should be grateful for all things large and small. We did all of these activities with our grandchildren ages 19 months, 3, 7, 8 years old.
#1 “I Am Grateful For”—Gratitude Art Posters
Create a gratitude poster with your children/grandchildren as a fun daily reminder of what they are grateful for.
There are several steps to completion. Fall leaves are used to create imprint drawings bathed in a watercolor wash. Bulky colorful letters spell out, “I Am Grateful For.” Individual ink drawings illustrate what each child is grateful for. And last—everything is mounted and framed for safe-keeping!
- White or beige cardstock paper (Michael’s)
- Black crayons
- LIquid watercolors
- 11×14 poster paper (Dollar Store)
- Bulky letters (Michael’s)
- Cardstock paper in fall colors cut 3×3”—4 per child
- Black pens
- 11×14” frames (Walmart)
- Gather small leaves for the imprint drawing
- Spread out the leaves, vein-side up on a table
- Cover with the white or beige cardstock
- Using the flat side of a black crayon, color the page bringing out the imprint of the leaves
- Using liquid watercolors in fall colors; paint the leaves. This is a wash—you are washing color over the leaves. After each color wash, dab with a paper towel and then add the next color, dab and repeat until you are satisfied with the color of the leaves
- When dry, cut into 1 ½ x 1 ½ inch pieces making certain you can see the imprint of the leaf.
- Take the bulky letters and glue or stick onto the poster board the words, “I Am Grateful For.” You can mix-and-match letters for an interesting effect
- On 4 pieces of 3×3” cardstock, have each child/grandchild, using a black ink pen, draw something they are grateful for such as family, parents, siblings, grandparents, pets, school, friends, etc.
- To assemble—take the watercolor leaves and ink drawings and arrange them on the poster board; glue them in place.
- Place in frame and display.
#2 Grateful for Ancestors: Lantern Walk, Stories & More
Express gratitude for your ancestors! Share with your children or grandchildren the lives, accomplishments, and stories of someone in your family tree.
To honor their memory:
- read stories about their lives
- paint a picture of your ancestors
- verbally express appreciation to them
- remember their talents and contributions to their family and the world
The ancestor I shared with my grandkids was their great, great, great-grandmother—Victoria Josephine Sandgren Harris (my father’s grandmother).
She was born in 1865 in Sweden and had one sibling—a sister. At age 9, she and her family crossed the ocean on a 100-foot ship and sailed to America. Eventually, she married and had 13 children (something my grandkids were in awe over).
Victoria was an exceptional mother and helped each of her children become educated in the arts and sciences. They became opera singers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, scientists, etc. She also loved everything in nature—trees, flowers, weeds, etc., and was taught foraging by the Piute Indians who also loved her buttermilk biscuits!
To honor Victoria, we looked at pictures of her; read and discussed her story, went on a Lantern Walk, and because she loved trees, we read, Strange Trees by Bernadette Pourquie.
With handmade lanterns, we went on a nature walk at dusk (she loved to walk at dusk), carrying our lanterns and her picture, and at the end, we threw her a kiss; thanking her for her life and her example of love and kindness to her children and her Native American neighbors.
Supplies & Directions
- Gather pictures and stories of an ancestor. Go online to ancestry.com for information about your ancestors. Share what you found with your children and grandchildren.
- For the lanterns—I purchased clear plastic children’s water cups with lids from the Dollar Store
- LED tealights—one for each lantern
- Go on a walk at dusk, carrying your lanterns and pictures of the ancestors you are honoring.
Thank you to @herbmountainfarm for the idea of showing appreciation to ancestors!
#3 Thanksgiving Activities for Kids & Grandkids: Making Gratitude Boxes
A gratitude box contains pieces of paper to write down thoughts of gratitude each day. It’s similar to a gratitude journal—only the expressions of gratitude are kept in a special keepsake box.
I purchased wooden boxes at the Dollar Store and supplied the grandkids with kwik stix, permanent markers, and watercolors to paint, color and decorate their boxes.
Cut pieces of paper (3×3”) or purchase small Thanksgiving bulletin board images to write their daily gratitude on.
Have your child/grandchild keep their boxes someplace where they are reminded to write down their daily gratitude. This is a fun and meaningful Thanksgiving activity for kids and grandkids!
- Wooden boxes (4×4”—Dollar Store)
- Kwik Stix solid paints
- Permanent Markers
- Variety of fall bulletin board cutouts (30 per child)
- Give each child/grandchild a wooden box to color and decorate with the supplies mentioned above
- Supply 30 Thanksgiving bulletin board cutouts for each child to write down their daily gratitude for the month of November and keep in their gratitude boxes.
#4 Grateful for Nature
Try this simple, “Grateful for Nature” activity with your kids/grandkids! Supplies are minimal—cardboard, colored paper, clothespins, and nature!
The idea is to find different things in nature that correspond to the colored paper on the board and attach it to the clothespin. It becomes a fun scavenger hunt exercise and teaches being observant of all the colors and beauty found in nature!
- Colored paper
- Hot glue gun
- Cut each piece of cardboard 24×15” rectangle
- Glue on 3×5 pieces of colored paper—colors you would find in nature—orange, red, brown, green, yellow, gold, etc.
- Hot glue a clothespin at the top of each color so the children can attach the item they find in nature to correspond to the color block.
- Make one for each child/grandchild
- Go on a nature walk and gather things to attach to your boards!
#5 Grateful for Learning
Help your kids/grandkids understand that learning is fun, tun, fun, and something to be grateful for!
Since Thanksgiving is all about pumpkins, turkeys, and more—we decided to dissect a pumpkin to find out what’s inside. We cut our pumpkin vertically from the top down to take a peek inside and see and identify all the parts of the pumpkin.
I purchased a Pumpkin Mini Unit Study from Stephanie Hathaway Designs on Etsy. I highly recommend buying one—it’s amazing!
After cutting our pumpkin, each grandchild had a paper to identify each part of the pumpkin.
They were fascinated! Dissecting pumpkins and identifying their parts becomes an unforgettable learning experience!
- Small pumpkin
- Sharp knife
- Pumpkin Mini Unit Study from Stephanie Hathaway Designs ($5)
- Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin from top to bottom
- Point out the different parts of the pumpkin using your mini-unit images
- Talk about different things that can be made from pumpkin—pies, cookies, muffins, cakes, soup, etc.
#6 Grateful for Play
Here are two fun Thanksgiving activities for kids and grandkids to emphasize gratitude for play—Thanksgiving bingo and puzzles!
These activities can be played on Thanksgiving Day, too. And puzzles are a great activity for increasing spatial intelligence and bingo helps with listening and identifying skills.
I purchased a Thanksgiving Bingo game from Amazon and made the puzzles from the clipart I purchased years ago. Fun activities to engage the whole family!
- Purchase Thanksgiving Bingo
- Clipart with a Thanksgiving theme. You can find FREE clipart on Pixaby or purchase from Depositphotos.
- White cardstock for the puzzles
- To make the puzzles, download Thanksgiving-themed clipart
- Enlarge to 8.5×11” on cardstock paper; print out
- Make vertical or horizontal cuts on each puzzle
- Laminate and have your kids/grandkids put them together!
#7 Grateful for Food
Kids and grandkids LOVE cooking and baking in the kitchen! There are so many things you can make in the kitchen to complement the holiday. We made pumpkin bread (to go with our dissection of the pumpkin).
In previous blogs, we’ve made pumpkin bread from scratch—this time we used a Pumpkin Bread mix from Trader Joe’s.
While we were mixing and baking, we talked about the importance of being grateful for everything we eat and how to make wise food choices.
#8 Grateful for Art & Creating
My grandkids love creating arts and crafts! For this project, we combined both arts and crafts—we painted with balloons and made turkeys using each grandchild’s handprint. The result—nothing short of colorful!
While your children/grandchildren are painting, cutting, and drawing, talk to them about being grateful for hands that create something of beauty that can be hung on a wall, or taken pictures of to be remembered forever!
We remember bygone cultures based on their art—and those are what we find in museums—art creations from centuries ago created by real people!
To make the balloon paintings you need:
- One canvas for each child/grandchild
- Acrylic paints
- A balloon for each child—blown up rather small
Supplies for Turkeys
- Free turkey template (we just used the turkey and made our own feathers using handprints)
- Colored paper to make handprints
- Squirt different colors of paint dots (about the size of a ½ dime) on the canvas
- Using the balloon, stamp the balloon in the paint over and over on the canvas. Be careful not to use too much paint or you will lose the texture of the balloon.
- Let dry
- Copy and cut out the turkey from the template
- To make the feathers, trace each child’s/grandchild’s hand with 3 different colors of paper
- Cut out the hands, glue the hands and turkey onto the balloon-painted canvas
#9 Grateful for Creatures in the Wild
Taking your kids/grandkids to feed the ducks teaches them to be grateful for creatures in the wild. It’s also an opportunity to teach them how they can help animals survive the cold winter months.
Explain the following:
- Throughout the winter, feed ducks BIRDSEED, not bread
- Read the book, Winter Survival: Animal Hibernation, Migration and Adaptation by L.R. Hanson to understand how animals get ready for winter.
- Create bird feeders and hang them outside
- Purchase a salt-lick for deer
- Scatter shelled peanuts where squirrels live
#10 Grateful for Technology
Technology is certainly something to be grateful for—especially when there are amazing apps that can enrich our lives and cause us to be more grateful.
There is a FREE app called “Gratitude: Journal App”
This app allows you to write about what you are grateful for. It sends notifications with gratitude prompts such as “What made you smile today?” or “What’s the best thing that happened to you today?” You can also add images to each of your gratitude entries.
This would be a wonderful app for your teens or teenage grandkids. Check it out here
Start today to find things in your world and in your life to be grateful for. Try one or all of these 10 Thanksgiving activities for kids and grandkids during the month of November. It’s a fun and meaningful way to celebrate the season!
What Thanksgiving activities do you do with your children or grandchildren? Please share in the comment section below!
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