Creating a fun and festive environment for Thanksgiving is a great way to engage kids during the holiday season. From classic games like Bingo and Pin the Beak on The Turkey, to sensory explorations and dramatic reenactments, there are several ideas here to spark preschoolers’ imaginations and get them actively involved in Thanksgiving learning. Kids will strengthen fine motor skills through crafts like Corn Husk Dolls and Nature Weaving. Important early STEM concepts are reinforced through acorn sorting and leaf rubbings.
By providing a thoughtfully prepared Thanksgiving experience filled with hands-on multi-sensory activities, you can create joyful memories while supporting each child’s whole development. This collection offers screen-free, open-ended play ideas to engage preschoolers across learning domains. Now let’s gobble up some Thanksgiving fun!
30 Thanksgiving Games and Activities
1. Thanksgiving Bingo
Description: This classic game allows kids to have fun while learning new Thanksgiving vocabulary words and pictures. It practices listening skills, visual discrimination, and patterning.
Instructions: Create bingo cards with clear images or words for various Thanksgiving categories like food, decor, symbols, etc. Call out the items one at a time and have kids identify and cover the matching spaces on their cards. The first player to get 5 images in a row wins! To differentiate, use simpler or more complex vocabulary for younger and older children.
2. Pin the Beak on the Turkey
Description: Blindfolded kids will love this active spin on the classic “pin the tail on the donkey” game as they learn about turkey body parts and develop sensory skills.
Instructions: Cut out a large turkey body from butcher paper and attach it to a wall at kid height. Make several turkey beaks from paper in different shapes and colors. Blindfold players one at a time, spin them around, and let them attempt to pin or tape the beak near the turkey’s head. The child whose beak lands closest to the correct spot wins. For more challenges, place obstacles in the way or increase the distance.
3. Corn Husk Dolls
Description: This open-ended craft allows children to connect to early American history while encouraging creativity. They can develop fine motor skills by manipulating the husks and incorporating elements of their own imagination.
Instructions: Provide a variety of dried corncobs and husks. Show kids how to carefully peel the husks off the cobs. Demonstrate how to tie two husks together with twine to form the basic doll shape. Let them use additional husks, twine, feathers, ribbons, fabric scraps, and other tools to embellish their unique corn husk dolls, adding clothing, hair, accessories, etc. Display their finished dolls together in a tableau.
4. Nature Scavenger Hunt
Description: This outdoor activity encourages kids to explore nature while developing their powers of observation. They will sharpen their senses as they hunt for naturally found objects.
Instructions: Make a detailed list of autumn-themed natural items for kids to search for such as pinecones, acorns, colorful or unusual leaves, milkweed pods, interesting sticks, feathers, etc. Send them out in small groups or pairs to hunt for the items and collect them in baskets, boxes, or bags. For an added challenge, make it a competition to find the most from the list within a designated outdoor area and time limit.
5. Handprint Turkeys
Description: Kids enjoy seeing their own handprints transformed into turkeys for this popular keepsake craft. It allows them to develop fine motor skills while learning about turkeys.
Instructions: On white or brown paper, have each child trace around their hand with a pencil several times. Cut out the traced hand shapes. Provide craft supplies like googly eyes, red feather details, glue, and brown/orange construction paper for feet and beaks. Let kids decorate their handprints into turkeys with details like feathers, eyes, beaks, and feet. Display their finished turkeys on a bulletin board or send them home as Thanksgiving keepsakes.
6. Roll a Pumpkin to the Finish
Description: Using inclined planes and ramps to race pumpkins helps develop eye-hand coordination, aiming skills, and an understanding of physics.
Instructions: Gather assorted boards, blocks, cardboard tubes, gutters, etc. to assemble several ramps and inclined planes of varying heights and angles. Give each child a small pumpkin, real or artificial, and challenge them to roll their pumpkins down the ramps to reach designated finish lines and targets. Add block towers to create obstacles. Time the kids with a stopwatch to see whose pumpkin can complete the course fastest.
7. Feather Blow
Description: This active game encourages breath control, color and shape recognition, and cooperation. Kids have fun working together to move feathers around the room.
Instructions: Scatter a variety of colorful feathers across the floor. Have kids lie on their stomachs and take turns using straws to blow the feathers from one side of the room to the other, keeping them in motion. Add challenges like blowing certain colored feathers first or getting them to land on targets. Work as teams to keep the feathers moving and see how long they can be kept up in the air.
8. Corn Kernel Counting
Description: Sorting and counting dried corn kernels of assorted colors boosts fine motor skills, counting ability, patterning skills, and sensory play.
Instructions: Provide a variety of dried corn kernels in fall colors – red, yellow, orange, brown, and white if possible. Give each child several small containers or bowls and a spoon. Demonstrate sorting the kernels by color first. Then have kids practice scooping and counting specific amounts of kernels into the containers according to color, number, or pattern. Extend the activity by weighing, measuring, and graphing the quantities.
9. Mixing Bowl Music
Description: Kids can explore sound, rhythm, and music by using common kitchen items to create their own instruments.
Instructions: Provide various sizes of metal and plastic mixing bowls. Designate different items for drumming like wooden spoons, whisks, plastic tongs, etc. Let kids experiment with tapping, scraping,, and swirling tools around the inside and rims of the bowls to produce interesting rhythms, tones, and tempos. Encourage them to take turns and collaborate to put on a musical performance.
10. Play Dough Turkeys
Description: Sculpting turkeys out of play dough allows kids to get creative while learning about the unique physical characteristics of turkeys. It’s a great tactile, hands-on activity for developing fine motor strength and coordination.
Instructions: Give each child an autumn-colored lump of play dough, tools like rolling pins, and accessories like googly eyes and feathers. Demonstrate how to sculpt an oval turkey body, a smaller head with a wattle, legs and feet, fan-shaped tail feathers, and wings. Let them add their own touches as they bring their turkeys to life. Display their completed sculptures on a table or in a scene with constructed turkeys together.
11. Leaf Rubbing Collages
Description: Creating rubbings from textured leaves introduces concepts like symmetry, veins, and patterns in nature. Kids focus on observation while making unique works of art.
Instructions: Collect a variety of leaf shapes and textures. Arrange leaves vein-side up under thin white paper. Have kids gently rub crayon sides over the leaves to transfer their imprints to the paper. They can repeat with various colors to build up layered collage designs. Display the finished collages on windows or bulletin boards.
12. Pie Tin Cookie Decorating
Description: Decorating ready-made cookie ingredients promotes creativity, fine motor skills, and eye-hand coordination.
Instructions: Provide each child with a mini foil pie tin containing plain cookie dough cut-outs shaped like turkeys or pumpkins. Supply festive icings, sprinkles, edible glitter, and add-ins like chocolate chips or candy corn for decorating their cookies. Let their imaginations run wild as they turn their cookies into edible art. Allow finished cookies to dry before enjoying them as a snack.
13. Leaf Toss
Description: Tossing leaves into targets helps develop hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. Kids will have fun participating in this active autumn game.
Instructions: Collect a large pile of fallen leaves in a variety of shapes and colors. Set up several hula hoops or buckets at varying distances as targets. Have kids take turns trying to toss or throw the leaves into the targets from increasing distances. Turn it into a friendly competition by keeping score and seeing who can get the most leaves to land in the targets.
14. Paper Chain Garlands
Description: Assembling strips of colored paper into loops boosts fine motor skills while creating festive fall classroom decorations.
Instructions: Cut strips of orange, yellow, red, and brown construction paper. Show children how to attach the ends together into loops, alternating colors. Assist younger kids with gluing or stapling the chains together into garlands to hang around the room. See who can make the longest autumn garland!
15. Nature Weaving
Description: Weaving collected natural materials like grasses and vines encourages close observation, creativity, and the development of fine motor skills.
Instructions: Take a nature walk to collect small twigs, dried grasses, vines, strips of bark, leaves with stems, etc. Back in the classroom, demonstrate basic over and under weaving techniques. Set out collected materials and let kids practice weaving small nature placemats, baskets or wall hangings.
16. Pipe Cleaner Turkeys
Description: Bending and twisting pipe cleaners to form the shapes of turkeys boost fine motor strength and coordination. Kids will strengthen their finger muscles as they take shape.
Instructions: Provide an array of orange, brown, red, and yellow pipe cleaners. Demonstrate how to hold 3-4 together to form the turkey’s body, then twist some into a neck, and head shape. Show how to use additional pipe cleaners to shape wings, tail feathers, feet, and a beak. Let kids use googly eyes and construction paper to further decorate their pipe cleaner turkeys.
17. Autumn Sensory Bin
Description: Playing with scooping, pouring, and manipulating autumn materials engages the senses of touch, sight, and sound while promoting discovery and vocabulary.
Instructions: Fill bins or tubs with dried corn kernels, gourds, acorns, pinecones, leaves, sticks, mini pumpkins, and other autumn finds. Let kids touch, scoop, sort, weigh, and explore the sensory materials. Introduce new vocabulary to describe the items. Add turkey feather props for imaginative play.
18. Sponge Painting
Description: Kids learn about color mixing, shapes, and patterns while creating unique prints using everyday sponges.
Instructions: Cut simple shapes like leaves, acorns, and circles from assorted sponges. Set out washable fall colored tempera paints. Show kids how to dip and dab the sponges into paint, then press them onto paper to print. Demonstrate stamping techniques like overlapping prints and re-dipping into paint to blend colors.
19. Cupcake Liner Wreaths
Description: Assembling and gluing multicolored cupcake liners promotes fine motor development, counting, and creativity.
Instructions: Provide mini cupcake liners in fall shades – oranges, browns, yellows, reds. Show kids how to pinch the liners in half to form a loop, overlapping and gluing ends to form rings. Assist them in grouping the rings into hand-sized wreaths by gluing and binding them together in the middle. Display on classroom doors or bulletin boards.
20. Leaf Matching Game
Description: Matching and sorting colorful fall leaves helps develop visual discrimination, concentration, and identification skills.
Instructions: Collect pairs of identical autumn leaves. Spread them face down in random order at a station. Kids take turns flipping over two leaves at a time trying to find a match. If they succeed, the pair is removed. Once all matches are found, mix up leaves again and replay to improve memory, observation skills.
21. Feed the Turkey
Description: Tossing objects like pom poms into a turkey’s mouth target zone promotes hand-eye coordination, counting skills, and understanding of measurement.
Instructions: Cut turkey head shapes from paper bags or construction paper and post at kid level. Mark a “mouth” target zone and assign point values. Provide a bucket of pom poms, beads, or balls. Have kids stand back and toss them underhand at the target, scoring points for landed items. Play in teams to improve cooperation too!
22. Autumn Movement
Description: Interpretive dance encourages listening skills, creativity, and body awareness as kids act out movements inspired by autumn themes.
Instructions: Play a variety of instrumental seasonal music and let kids move freely, responding to the rhythm, tempo and tones. Call out prompts like “be falling leaves”, “march like pilgrims”, or “waddle like a turkey”. Encourage them to focus on how the music makes their body want to move. Take turns leading the group in different autumn dances.
23. Pie Pan Mayflower Scenes
Description: Decorating pie pans allows kids to illustrate highlights of the first Thanksgiving story while developing their fine art skills.
Instructions: Give each child a foil pie pan “mayflower” and drawing materials. Have them use crayons, colored pencils or markers to draw a Thanksgiving scene showing pilgrims, Native Americans, pumpkins, cornucopias, etc. They can include details like Plymouth Rock, ships, wildlife and more. Display the porthole scenes on windows or bulletin boards.
24. Clothespin Turkeys
Description: Decorating clothespins into turkeys boosts fine motor skills while encouraging creativity and construction skills.
Instructions: Give each child a wooden clothespin to transform into a turkey. Provide googly eyes, glue, and craft materials like construction paper, feathers, pom poms, foam pieces, and fabric scraps. Let them create whimsical turkeys by carefully adding wings, feet, eyes, wattle, tail, and more to personalize their clothespin into a unique turkey character.
25. Pilgrim Hats
Description: Simple paper hats allow kids to imagine life as a pilgrim while developing paper manipulation skills and reinforcing new vocabulary.
Instructions: Cut rectangular hat template shapes from black or brown construction paper. Provide decorating materials like craft feathers, gold braid, buckles, and bands. Kids can practice cutting, gluing, and coloring to embellish their hats. Have children wear their finished hats for a special Thanksgiving reenactment or feast.
26. Handprint Trees
Description: Stamping painted handprints makes a delightful tree art craft while teaching about symmetry in nature and developing fine motor control.
Instructions: Have kids dip their palms into brown tempera paint and firmly stamp them onto paper. As they overlap and stack the prints vertically, a grove of tree trunks will emerge! They can add on details like fall-colored tissue paper leaves. Display their handprint trees on windows for a lovely light effect.
27. Acorn Sorting
Description: Sorting acorns by size and other attributes teaches kids STEM concepts like classification, measurement, sorting, counting, and fine motor skills.
Instructions: Gather acorns in a variety of sizes and types. Provide sorting tools like egg cartons, muffin tins, and small bowls. Demonstrate sorting a few acorns by size to model the concept. Have kids continue sorting from biggest to smallest. Extend by counting, weighing, and graphing quantities of acorns.
28. Nature Jewelry
Description: Making wearable art from natural materials encourages creativity, design skills, and development of fine motor muscles.
Instructions: Take a nature walk to collect leaves, seeds, acorns, small pinecones, sticks, etc. Provide yarn, cord, string, hole punches, beads, etc. Demonstrate how to thread and tie materials to create necklaces and bracelets. Let imagination run wild as kids make their own nature-inspired jewelry to wear.
29. Leaf Rubbing Name Tags
Description: Creating leaf rubbings allows children to observe the uniqueness of leaves as they highlight the leaf-like patterns in their names.
Instructions: Print names on paper or index cards. Collect colorful autumn leaves with strong veins. Arrange leaves under names and carefully rub the side of a crayon over them to transfer leaf detail onto names. Display finished nature name tags on classroom jobs charts or cubbies.
30. Sticker Scene Creation
Description: Creating sticker scenes promotes creativity, storytelling skills, and fine motor development as children carefully grasp and place stickers.
Instructions: Provide pre-cut sticker shapes depicting common Thanksgiving themes like pilgrims, Native Americans, turkeys, pumpkins, cornucopias, ships, food, etc. Demonstrate how to rub off excess sticker backings for easier grasping. On paper, let kids plan out and arrange desired stickers to illustrate their own Thanksgiving story scenes.
We hope you have fun with these 30 Thanksgiving games and activities and are able to bring some excitement and joy into the classroom!