We have now entered the Holiday Spiral Zone - we went from creating fun Halloween costumes and pranks to spook each other, to the sugar melt downs, and Bang! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and the Christmas stockings are itching to climb upon their hooks. Help your kids slow down and enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving with these 3 ways to bring your family closer and make the most of this holiday.
Thanksgiving might bring about images of pilgrim hats, the Mayflower, and overflowing cornucopias – not always the stuff childhood excitement is made of. Bring a little play into the season with some easy and fun games and activities.
- Play pin the gobbler on the turkey.
- Print themed bingo games and play on family game night.
- Get your kids in the kitchen and have them help you make fun desserts like the turkey cupcakes shown above.
- Provide little ones with themed coloring pages.
- Teach your kids silly stories and songs, such as The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven.
- Play The Talking Fork at dinner. Bring out an over sized fork and take a new twist on the Native American idea of a talking stick. Pass the fork and instruct everyone who holds it to tell a favorite memory, something for which they are thankful, or perhaps how they have been blessed this year. Only the person with the Talking Fork speaks, making it a fun way for little kids to feel like their voices are really heard.
Celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving with your kids by learning with them about his tradition. Incorporate good books into your daily routine that talk about the holiday – perhaps choosing to read aloud as a family a chapter book that looks more closely at the historical aspect. Some books to start looking for at your library include:
- 10 Fat Turkeys, by Tony Johnston and Richard F. Deas
- I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, by Alison Jackson and Judy Schachner
- P Is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet, by Carol Crane and Helle Urban
- If You Were At The First Thanksgiving, by Anne Kamma and Bert Dodson
- ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, by Dav Pilkey
- The Thanksgiving Story, by Alice Dalgliesh and Helen Sewell
- The Thanksgiving Door, by Debby Atwell
- . . . If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, by Ann McGovern and Anna DiVito
- The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving, by Ann Mcgovern and Elroy Freem
- The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks, by Jan Berenstain and Mike Berenstain
Sign up at Scholastic to have your kids experience a virtual world from the first Thanksgiving, starting with the journey on the mayflower. This virtual voyage is free and a great way for reluctant readers to still learn about the history behind the holiday.
Have your kids create a special Thanksgiving activity to share with others on the actual holiday. My older kids even video recorded a holiday spoof one year and brought the DVD to Grandma’s house to watch after football with everyone. They had a great time writing a script, acting out the scenes, and editing the video. One year the kids also made a homemade Jeopardy style game (on tag board), with Thanksgiving themed questions – or answers – and everyone played while we waited for dessert.
You are about to enter the domain of Christmas frenzy in just a matter of weeks, so approach the holiday season with the right spirit of generosity and help your kids develop their spirit of service. Each fall, immediately after Halloween, as my children are coming down from their sugar highs, we decide on service projects to do as a family. This year I charged the youngest with the task of choosing a new project. He has selected Bundle Me Warm, a used coat and outwear drive that supplies the much needed warm outerwear for families in need. He is working on invitations to send to family and friends asking them for their donations, and will host a party where he will collect the items. He is eight years old, the perfect age to use his infection enthusiasm to spread a little holiday cheer.
Each year our family also helps prepare Thanksgiving baskets that our church provides to families in need, and it has provided an amazing sense of thankfulness in our family. If you are short on ideas check with local churches and community centers for their needs. Go out and find something to remind your family all you have to be thankful for, or better yet, let your kids find something and tag along for the ride!