10 Thanksgiving Read Alouds and Activities for Kids
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday because it opens the door to the beginning of the long-awaited holiday season. From Thanksgiving to Christmas families enjoy traditions, quality time together, wonderful food, and fun! Having children around for the holidays brings a special kind of magic, but also a little pressure. It can be overwhelming trying to entertain kids and make sure this time of year feels special. Enjoy these great Thanksgiving books and activities to enjoy with your kids or in your classroom.
These picture books make for a great read aloud to enjoy with your elementary school classroom. You can also do these craft projects with your children or grandchildren to bring the magic of the holiday and the magic of reading into your home! See below for ten Thanksgiving books and activities for kids!
1. The Great Thanksgiving Escape By Mark Fearing
Two children just want to play outside on thanksgiving day! But how will they ever get out of the crowded house without talking to all those family members?!
Family Tree: Draw the outline of a tree for your student/child (or have them cut or draw the outline. Then let them use finger paint, stamps, or squares of paper to fill in their tree with colorful leaves. Encourage students to learn about their families and create a family tree with the names of their extended family.
2. Thanksgiving Rules By Laurie Friedman
Enjoy this simple poem as our narrator (a child) explains all the steps to enjoying the traditions on Thanksgiving Day.
Table Decorations: Collect small rocks, wash and paint them with thanksgiving messages to place on the table. Collect leaves and wax or press them as decorations. Have students use crayons to make leaf impressions on paper. Then let the students write the names of family and friends and use them as placeholders for thanksgiving.
3. Sometimes It’s Turkey, Sometimes Its Feathers By Lorna Balian
Mrs. Gum finds a turkey egg and can’t wait to eat her turkey on Thanksgiving, but as the year goes on, she thinks she has an even better idea.
Turkey Crafts: There are so many ways to make turkeys this time of year. I will just list a few ideas.
Pine Cone Turkey: Find a pinecone. Hot glue a pom-pom head with googly eyes and a paper beak to the top of one of the ends of the cone. Then use pipe cleaners to create the feet and colorful ribbons tied around in bows to create the feathers.
Edible Turkeys: Use candy to create the features of the turkey with an apple base or a cupcake base. You can also make a turkey veggie tray.
TP Turkey or Paper Plate Turkey: You can use a toilet paper roll or paper plate and decorate it with pipe cleaners/colored paper to create a turkey puppet.
4. Over the River and Through the Woods By Lydia Maria Child Illustrated by Matt Tavares
A traditional poem brought to life through exquisite illustrations that add so much to the song.
Talk about the beautiful illustrations of nature throughout the book. Then make a pumpkin craft.
Fabric Pumpkin: You can make a fabric pumpkin, by taking a fabric square, put rice, pillow stuffing, or beans in the middle. Then grab all the corners and tie them together with a rubber band. Next, take a piece of string or yarn. Go around the top and bottom of the ball several times, creating somewhat equal sections going vertically around the pumpkin. Then wrap the string/yarn around the rubber band many times before tying off, creating a stem for the pumpkin.
Yarn Pumpkin: Blow up a balloon to the size you want your pumpkin. Then cover the pumpkin with yarn and paint Elmer's glue all over the yarn and balloon. Wait for the glue to dry completely. Pop the balloon and add a pipe cleaner stem on the top of your circle to create a pumpkin.
5. One is a Feast for Mouse By Judy Cox
Mouse can’t wait to feast on leftover Thanksgiving dinner, but a surprise visitor sure changes the mouse's plan!
Corn Crafts: There are several corn craft activities to do this time of year.
Corn Husk Painting: Paint corn husks and create a bookmark, reath, turkey feathers, or fan.
Bubble Wrap Corn: paint bubble wrap with watercolor paint. Cut the bubble wrap in the shape of a corn cob. Use tissue paper on each side of the corn to create the husk. Then place the corn in front of a window as a suncatcher.
Pony Bead Corn: Tie several pipe cleaners together at the bottom. Let students cover the pipe cleaner in brown, orange, and yellow pony beads. Then tie the pipe cleaners together at the top and bend slightly to create a corn on the cob shape.
6. Turkey Trouble By Marc Maron
Turkey needs a disguise to avoid being eaten on thanksgiving...but he is having a hard time looking like a different farm animal. What will he do!?
Turkey Disguise: Have students make a handprint turkey (either cut their handprint out of brown paper and draw a face or use paint). Then give the students the project to use paper and glue to create a disguise for their turkey so that he can get away before Thanksgiving day.
7. Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Marks
This rhyming story gives lots of examples of things people can be thankful for in their lives.
Thank you advent Calendar: Create an advent calendar with things your students or children can be thankful for this time of year. Make a turkey and cut out feathers from colored paper. Put blessings on the feathers and then let your students pull off one feather every day in November looking forward to Thanksgiving. You could also have things people can do to show gratitude and practice those things throughout November.
8. Giving Thanks: More than 100 Ways to say Thank You by Ellen Surrey
A sweet story about feeling and showing gratitude!
Have students write thank you cards to family, friends, and people around the school who help them.
9. Thankful By Eileen Spinelli
This story is full of different people and how what they are thankful for is different.
Make Gratitude Pie: Give students a paper plate and a piece of card stalk. In the middle of the plate poke a small hole with a brad. Then have the students trace the paper plate on the card stalk. Have them write things they are thankful for on the inside of the circle they made with the paper plate. Let the kids decorate the paper plate so that it looks like a pie (they can use colored paper and glue or markers/crayons. Cut a small triangle out of the paper plate so it looks like the first piece of the pie has been cut out. Using the brad, place it over the traced circle on the card stalk. The student should be able to turn the pie and see the things they are thankful for written on the card stalk.
10. Not This Turkey! By Jessica Steinberg
This is a book about a Jewish immigrant family who wins a turkey. All they want is a traditional Thanksgiving, but when the day takes an unexpected turn, they make their own traditions.
Paper Bag Pilgrim Puppets: You can use this story to talk about immigration in the United States. Talk about the traditions associated with the first thanksgiving and about how the Native American’s helped immigrants from Europe to survive. Use markers and paper to create pilgrim puppets and let the students write stories for their immigrant's experiences in a new place.
How do you entertain kids on Thanksgiving?
These crafts and books are great to help entertain kids during Thanksgiving break. Sports and outside activities thanksgiving morning is also a traditional way to help kids get their wiggles out before a Thanksgiving feast. Another thing kids love is to be able to take ownership. Maybe there is a dish that the kids could be in charge of or decorations that kids can make and use for the meal. As a teacher, you may consider adding thanksgiving word problems to math assignments or including thanksgiving crafts or writing into your content matter in order to help students be engaged the week of Thanksgiving.
How do you make Thanksgiving fun for adults?
Many thanksgiving craft projects are also great for adults. You can also have a potluck dinner where each adult creates specific dishes that they shared with their family growing up. Adults also enjoy sporting activities outside the morning of thanksgiving. You can also check out my board game blogs HERE and HERE to find some fun board games to play after those after feast naps!