Thanksgiving activities for kids of all ages

Oct 16, 2009 at 7:48 a.m. ET

You know what you will be doing on Thanksgiving, but what about the kids? Here are a few craft and activity ideas.

Thanksgiving Arts and CraftsIt's almost Thanksgiving. Shortly, you will be rising early to put the turkey in the oven and busy yourself cooking up delicious sides and scrumptious desserts. Perhaps the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will play in the background as you mix, pour, stir and serve. Then, it's time for football to hit the television as you hit your cooking stride.

One problem: What about the kids?

While you might understand the reasoning for spending all day in the kitchen, but it's unlikely that your children will echo your enthusiasm. (And it can be a bigger drag if you don't enjoy all the cooking.) How can you get little ones excited about the day and keep them occupied?

Having activities planned for the kids will be an important factor in Thanksgiving planning. From crafts to games, there are many things that can get kids involved in the party without being underfoot.

Here's what they can do.

Bake and decorate cookies.

Prebake some cut-out cookies or even just round sugar cookies. Then mix up royal icing in several different shades. Have the icings ready to go in disposable icing bags (hint: seal the top with a rubber band to prevent backfire).

When it's time to decorate, set up an area that's protected with newspaper or a vinyl tablecloth and let the kids go to work decorating all the cookies. Be sure to assign an adult or a mature kid to supervise the activity.

This is good for kids age three and up.

Make hand/footprint Turkey placecards for each seat.

Get a big package of construction paper, a supply of glue, googly eyes and some markers. Have the kids outline one foot on a piece of brown construction paper and cut it out. Then have each kid outline their hand 4-5 times on different bright colors of construction paper and cut each one out. The brown footprint becomes the body and the hands become the feathers. Glue the hands down to the brown footprint, coverlapping slightly. Then, decorate the opposite side of the paper with googly eyes and more to look like a turkey. Write someone's name on the turkey's body to turn this craft into a placecard.

Again, assign another adult or mature child to supervise.

This is good for kids age three and up.

Plan a scavenger hunt.

Choose 10 items either indoors or outdoors for kids to search for and make a list. For older kids, you can even turn the items into riddles for added fun. When it's time to play, either have kids compete as individuals or, for larger groups, as teams to find all the items first. Have a basket with token prizes for the winner(s). If there is just one winner, you can also have a toy crown for the winner to wear as champion.

This is good for kids of all ages. Pair kids under age 6 with older kids.

Have storytime.

Whether it's a book about the first Thanksgiving, Christmas or Clifford the Big Red Dog, have someone sit down and read a book teacher-style to the kids (as in, show off every page). Check through your books at home for potential reads and then hit the library to supplement. This can be a great, calming pre-dinner event to be sure that all the kids are settled down and ready to munch away.

This is good for kids of all ages.

More ideas.

For more great ideas, check out the SheKnows section on Thanksgiving crafts. And whatever you do, don't forget to have kids reflect on what makes them thankful this year.

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