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Educational Activities for Your Kids During the Thanksgiving Holiday

Educational Activities for Your Kids During the Thanksgiving Holiday

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - November 20th, 2023

Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness and gratitude. However, when you’re a parent, it can also be a time of trying to keep young children entertained and engaged while still managing the whirlwind of holiday preparations. Thankfully, there are plenty of educational activities that not only occupy your kids but also help them to learn about the meaning and history of the holiday. These activities can range from outdoor exploration to indoor crafts, engaging different facets of learning from tactile to visual, cognitive to emotional. Research supports the effectiveness of these activities in reinforcing learning. In fact, a study published in the journal “Educational Psychology Review” suggests that children learn more effectively when activities are interactive and related to real-world experiences.

Here are the top 10 activities for your kids during Thanksgiving break

Storytelling and Role Play:  Stories are a powerful educational tool. They encourage language development, cognitive skills, empathy, and imagination. Start by reading Thanksgiving-themed books together, discussing the characters, settings, and plot points. Then, invite your children to role-play parts of the stories. This gives them a chance to reiterate what they’ve learned, exercise their creativity, and reinforce their comprehension of the story.

Thanksgiving Crafts: Crafting can boost children’s fine motor skills, creativity, and attention span. Simple Thanksgiving crafts can include creating handprint turkeys, making a paper plate pilgrim, or constructing a Native American headdress. As you work on crafts together, discuss the historical and cultural significance of each item. For instance, when making the headdress, talk about the important role of Native Americans in the first Thanksgiving celebration.

Gratitude Journal: Introducing your children to the concept of gratitude can be a significant part of their emotional and social development. Encourage them to keep a ‘Gratitude Journal’ where they can write or draw something they are thankful for each day. At dinner, everyone can share one thing they’ve written in their journal, promoting positive conversation and gratitude expression.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt: Outdoor activities foster children’s love for nature and help them develop their observational skills. Arrange a scavenger hunt with a Thanksgiving twist. Create a list of items for your kids to find, like red and orange leaves, pine cones, acorns, or even a neighbor’s decorative turkey. As they find each item, discuss its relevance to the season or the holiday.

Cooking Together: Invite your children into the kitchen to help with the Thanksgiving meal prep. Cooking involves reading recipes, measuring ingredients, and understanding cooking processes, making it a great educational activity. You could bake a pumpkin pie together, explaining where pumpkins come from and why they’re associated with Thanksgiving.

Interactive History Lessons: Make history come alive by engaging your children in interactive lessons about the Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the first Thanksgiving. You can use maps, globes, and online resources to visualize the Pilgrims’ journey across the Atlantic and their life in the New World.

Thanksgiving-themed Math and Science Activities: Incorporate math and science into Thanksgiving-themed activities. For example, when cooking, children can learn fractions through measuring ingredients. Outside, they can explore the science of autumn by examining why and how leaves change color. You can also create math worksheets based around Thanksgiving themes, like turkey feathers or Pilgrim hats.

Family History and Culture: Thanksgiving is a great time to teach your children about their family history and traditions. You can create a family tree together or discuss how your family’s Thanksgiving traditions have evolved over the years. This helps children develop a sense of identity and belonging.

Thanksgiving-themed Reading and Writing Activities: Encourage your children to read and write with Thanksgiving-themed activities. They can write a Thanksgiving story, read a book about the holiday, or even write thank you notes to their teachers or friends.

Community Service: Finally, introduce your kids to the concept of giving back by participating in community service activities. You can donate food to a local food bank or write thank you cards for essential workers in your community. This teaches empathy and social responsibility.

Remember, the goal of these activities is not just to keep children entertained during the Thanksgiving break but also to teach them about the significance of the holiday and to foster a love of learning. As the study referenced earlier suggests, these hands-on, real-world activities can be a powerful tool for helping your children learn more effectively. So make the most of this holiday season by engaging your kids in these fun, educational activities, and create lasting Thanksgiving memories in the process.

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