Get Kids Excited for Thanksgiving

By Katie Moosbrugger

Somewhere in between the ghosts of Halloween and the spirit of Christmas, the presence of a major national holiday – otherwise known as Thanksgiving – often slips by unnoticed by our kids who have no interest in a day full of cooking, eating (and mostly food that doesn’t interest them), reminiscing and relaxing. And who blames them? But let’s not let it happen this year. There are so many ways we can make Thanksgiving fun, exciting and memorable for these little people – we just need to get creative.

If you’re entertaining this year with kids in the house, try incorporating some of the ideas found below in your Thanksgiving traditions. Everything is super easy, very inexpensive, and promises to make the day a little more festive for the kids. Any other ideas are greatly appreciated so please add in the comments below!

Getting Started

Involve your kids  – and your guests’ children – in the cooking and preparation stage. Purchase some oversized T-shirts (like the ones you find in packs of three or six in the men’s department), some puffy paint and fabric pens, and have the kids create their own cute and colorful aprons.

Setting the Table

If you are OK with not being fancy, pick up a colorful table cloth – or even a paper one for the kids to color – and add crepe paper, confetti and balloons as decorations. I found a paper table cloth at Walmart with kid activities printed right on it! Instead of serving dinner on china or your everyday dishes, buy fun Thanksgiving-themed paper plates, cups and napkins.  For an added touch to your table, put together small goodie bags at everyone’s place setting, and fill the bags with Thanksgiving trinkets and candy. The Dollar Store is a treasure trove for items like this.

Placemats

Make turkey placemats out of sturdy construction paper. Have kids draw large hands  – make the thumb the turkey head and the four fingers its feathers. If you have time, laminate the construction paper so the placemats are easy to wash after the meal. Children can also create a Thanksgiving scene, such as Indians and Pilgrims sitting around the table.

Centerpieces

Fill candle votives with candy corn. Or send the kids on a scavenger hunt to collect autumn colored-leaves and acorns – and arrange around a small pumpkin or jack-o-lantern to create a simple centerpiece.

If you’re feeling super crafty, have the kids create a fun turkey centerpiece like the one pictured to the left. I found this turkey centerpiece on Women’s Day magazine’s web site. Here’s how you make it:

Materials:
Construction paper in assorted colors
Paper bag
White glue
Red chenille stem

Instructions:
Trace your hand on several colors of construction paper and cut out for the feather shapes. Roll back top edge of paper bag and glue on feathers. Cut out wings, head and pilgrim hat from construction paper. Attach to bag. Use a red chenille stem for the turkey’s wattle. Fill the bag with acorns, walnuts or candy corn!

Get Silly

Have everyone at the table – kids and adults, alike – wear turkey hats. This craft, found on Parents Magazine’s web site (see picture at top) was too cute not to share. Here are the steps:

Materials:
* White paper plate
* Scissors
* Assorted paint colors
*Cotton swabs
* Paper: dark brown, light brown, black, orange, red
* Gluestick
* Brown crafts foam
* Stapler

Step 1
• Cut a white paper plate in half. You will need one-half of the plate per hat.
• Paint each groove on the plate edge with assorted paint colors using a separate cotton swab for each color.

Step 2
• Cut a 6-inch-diameter circle from brown paper, and cut it in half.
• Glue one of the halves to the plate.
• Cut out a 3-inch-diameter circle from light brown paper for the turkey’s head, two small circles from black paper for the eyes, a small diamond from orange paper for the beak and fold in half, and a comma shape from red paper for the wattle.
• Glue all the pieces to the plate as shown.
• Cut two 8-1/2×2-inch strips from orange paper and cut two slits at the bottom of each strip.
• Accordion-fold the strips to make legs and fold up the strips at the bottom for the feet.
• Glue the legs to the flat edge of the plate, positioning each one just inside the rim on opposite sides.

Step 3
• Cut two 2×11-inch strips from brown crafts foam for the headband.
• Staple one end of each piece together.
• Glue the stapled seam to the center back of the turkey with the staple ends facing the turkey; let dry.
• Complete the hat by fitting the bands around the child’s head and stapling it closed to fit.

Keep Up the Momentum with Table Games

Don’t let the long adult conversations lose your child’s attention or focus from what the day is all about. Set the table with Thanksgiving Trivia Placeholders on everyone’s plate. I found this fun game craft on Martha Stewart’s web site:

Refer to the picture to the left. Trace a turkey body onto heavyweight paper, and cut out one body and five feathers for each bird. Write a question (see example trivia questions below) on one side of each feather and the answer on the other side. Make a hole at the end of each feather and toward the tail end of the body. Stack the feathers, questions facing forward. Align the holes in the stack with the hole in the body, insert a metal paper fastener through the holes, and secure. Fan out the feathers. To make the turkey stand up, cut a 1 1/2-inch slit in the bottom of the body. Cut a 1 1/2-inch-radius (3-inch-diameter) half circle from the heavyweight paper, and insert the curved side into the slit.

Suggested Thanksgiving Trivia
Q. What year did the Mayflower arrive in Plymouth, Massachusetts?
A. 1620.

Q. What kind of seafood did the pilgrims eat?
A. Clams, oysters, eels, lobster, and codfish.

Q. What colors did the pilgrims wear?
A. Dark or forest green, red, brown, black, blue, and gray.

Q. Did animals sail on the Mayflower with the pilgrims?
A. There was no room for cattle or livestock, but at least two dogs were on board.

Q. What was the pilgrims’ name for boiled-corn pudding?
A. Hasty pudding.

Q. What kind of houses did the Native Americans live in when the pilgrims met them?
A. Wigwams, round-roofed houses made of poles covered with bark.

Q. What is the male turkey called? What distinguishes him from the female?
A. A tom. He is bigger and has more colorful plumage than the female.

Q. What did Native Americans wear on their heads?
A. Tribes west of the Mississippi River wore elaborate headdresses made of many feathers. Other Native Americans used a single eagle feather.

What are other suggestions do you have to make Thanksgiving a fun holiday for kids?

Some ideas above were also found on www.ehow.com.


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