It’s hard to find easy developmental Thanksgiving activities for toddlers and preschoolers. Many Thanksgiving preschool and toddler activities are too complex, messy, and time-consuming. The crafts involve scissors or dreaded paper mache. There are too many steps; they ask toddlers for more attention and dexterity than they possess.
Here’s a list of quick, easy, and developmentally appropriate Thanksgiving activities. Most call for materials you probably already have.
I look at most activities through a developmental lens, and Thanksgiving is no exception. These Thanksgiving activities for toddlers and preschoolers are listed according to the developmental area they enhance.
Fine Motor Skills
Activities that increase fine motor skills focus on small muscle groups (especially in the hands). Fine motor skill activities could be using tongs, kneading Play-Doh, and ripping paper.
Increased fine motor skills help toddlers and preschoolers use utensils, get dressed, and play efficiently.
- Edible Pumpkin Play Dough from Smart School House: it’s the season for eating, right? Play dough should be no exception.
- Sticky Paper Turkey Dress Up from Teach Preschool: use colorful feathers to dress turkeys! This is a great opportunity to teach patterns and practice taking turns, too.
- Feed The Turkey by Busy Toddler: this Thanksgiving activity is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, as it involves tongs and fuzzy balls. Tongs are great for fine motor skills.
- Toilet Paper Roll Turkey from The Resourceful Mama: y’all know I love a good ripping paper activity. And I figure we all have plenty of toilet paper rolls.
My autistic preschooler loves sensory activities. These activities give him a safe outlet to explore textures.
He doesn’t always feel like getting messy, so some activities are more hands on than others.
- Easy Tie-Dye Turkey from Happy Toddler Playtime: I’m listing this activity as “sensory.” But with all the hand work, this delightful craft is fine motor, pre-writing, and STEM, too.
- Thanksgiving Sensory Soup Water Play from Fantastic Fun and Learning: toddlers and preschool will love making this Thanksgiving “soup”
Gross Motor Skills
Activities that increase gross motor skills focus on bigger muscle groups like the arms, legs, and torso. Increasing gross motor skills help children complete complex movements efficiently.
- Turkey Baster Relay from The Inspired Treehouse: use turkey basters to blow feathers in this silly family relay
- DIY Confetti-Stuffed Turkey from Studio DIY!: Reward the kids for making it through the meal by letting them whack this homemade pinata around
Holding and controlling a pencil is really hard for little hands. Pre-writing activities strengthen muscles and condition hands, helping kids make art and write stories.
- Thanksgiving Placemat from The Suburban Mom: this fun placemat is an activity smorgasbord. Even the littlest hands can draw pictures of what they’re grateful for.
- Strainer Turkey With Straw Feathers from Happily Ever Mom: If your toddler and preschooler can hold and manipulate straws, they can hold and manipulate writing utensils.
STEM is science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM activities teach toddlers and preschoolers these four principles in creative ways.
Exposing preschoolers to STEM activities will increase problem-solving and critical thinking skills. STEM activities encourage toddlers and preschoolers to appreciate these subjects later, in a more rigorous academic setting.
- Racing Turkeys Number Line Game from Fun Learning For Kids: with a few basic supplies, you too can make math fun! This craft involves clothespin, so it could be listed as fine motor and pre-writing, as well.
- Feed The Turkey Counting Activity from Fun Learning for Kids: foraging acorns and counting? This is the perfect Thanksgiving activity for toddlers and preschoolers.