You’ve swept up the Halloween glitter, snacked on your final, final Twix (famous last words), and tossed your pumpkin in the compost. That can only mean one thing: time for turkey crafts.
Thanksgiving crafts can be one more item on the to do list, but they also can be an opportunity to empower your kids to take responsibility for a creative project from start to finish (while building fine motor skills).
The important thing is that they’re interested in the kind of work that they’re doing and that they see a purpose behind it. That way they’ll take ownership — and you won’t end up with one more thing on your plate. If their idea of a fun Thanksgiving craft does not involve little turkey puppets, encourage them to try something they do like: a fall-themed craft or a project inspired by holiday values like gratitude, as we’ll discuss below.
The dinner table is a great place to show off their Thanksgiving decorations to the whole family: Kids who aren’t keen to exhibit their art on the door of the fridge can design napkin rings, place cards, place mats or even the centerpiece. They’ll feel more invested in the Thanksgiving table (and maybe even be willing to sit there for more of the meal before running off to play) if they’ve helped bring it to life.
Whatever their level of ability and interest, kids of all ages can get involved: Older kids can prepare Thanksgiving treats in the kitchen, but even preschoolers can honor turkey day by showing up to the kids table decked out in festive head gear like a turkey headband or a pilgrim hat. To get the littlest kiddos involved in Thanksgiving activities, try handprint turkeys, footprint turkeys or even footprint pumpkin pie.
Another meaningful craft that kids can make — and benefit from — is a gratitude jar for the family to fill up before enjoying Thanksgiving dinner. Rather than sharing gratitude out loud (only to forget what everyone said by the first bite of sweet potatoes), the gratitude jar requires people to write or draw something for which they are grateful. This twist on the tradition of sharing gratitude at the table creates a family keepsake that you can add to all year long as part of each holiday gathering. The collection of gratitude can serve as a family “bank” of good fortune that you can go back to and revisit whenever someone needs a little pick-me-up.
There’s no shortage of craft ideas on websites such as Crafty Morning (with recipes and more), iheartcraftythings (which is chock full of coloring pages) and Happiness is Homemade (plenty of free printables here!), but don’t limit yourself to the tutorials. Encourage your kiddos to color outside the lines — or with a different palette: There’s no reason not to let them push the boundaries of the traditional brown, red, orange and yellow paper turkeys.
Even if you’re shooting for the classic fall color scheme, Thanksgiving crafts rely on many of the staples you probably already have on hand (or make a quick amazon-run):
While you might want to buy some specific supplies, like turkey feathers (real or fake), other items can be found right outside your door: fall leaves and pine cones (for pine cone turkeys).
The Thanksgiving story that kids learn in school is just one example of gratitude in action. At home, let them use their holiday crafts to explore — and bring to life — other gratitude stories, fictional or real-life.
As we discuss in our post on fall crafts, these projects don’t have to be limited to visual arts. Taking a project-based approach to your crafts means allowing kids to pick the media that interest them most and to create a final result that is meaningful to them. If they aren’t excited to make a turkey puppet show, they can get into the spirit with other free-form activities like composing a Thanksgiving song, writing an essay on gratitude, or researching the local Thanksgiving traditions and symbols like the cornucopia.
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