Pilgrim hats, corn husks, pumpkin pie, Native Americans – do these words have images of Thanksgiving days gone by popping into your mind? The holiday season is just around the corner and that means it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving books and activities to help your toddlers and preschoolers celebrate this special holiday. Although your young children may not be old enough to fully grasp the significance of the the First Thanksgiving, it is never too early to start cultivating within them a sense of thankfulness for their blessings and good gifts. 

In this blog post I will share a few ideas for fun Thanksgiving activities for your preschoolers and at the bottom of the page I will share a link to some free Thanksgiving printables that you will definitely want to snag to help you celebrate. 

Thanksgiving Books

First up, books! If you peruse my blog or Instagram much at all you will know that we LOVE reading story books around here. There are so many wonderful reasons to read with your children and you can read about my favorite toddler books here and my favorite bedtime books here. Stories have a way of teaching valuable lessons and themes and I love including seasonal books in our regular rotations of storybooks, so it should be no surprise that we have a list of favorite Thanksgiving theme books. 

Here are some of our favorites:

​1. Thanksgiving is Here by Diane Goode

2. In November by Cynthia Rylant

3. Give Thanks to the Lord by Karma Wilson

4. Thankful by Eileen Spinelli

5. Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

Each of these focuses specifically on Thanksgiving day and walks through various aspects of the day, including the sweetness of family gathered; the delicious Thanksgiving feast; and the blessings all around us we can be thankful for. Give Thanks to the Lord is maybe our favorite Thanksgiving book as it recounts the things we have to be thankful for through the language of Scripture. I love the way the author uses Psalm 136 as a foundation for teaching thankfulness to young hearts and minds. It’s truly a must-have for your home library!

As always, I recommend you check your local library for these titles first before purchasing new. Online thrift book stores like Thriftbooks and BetterWorldBooks are another great place to start if you cannot get these titles through your local library. Don’t forget to reserve your books early as many holiday titles can be hard to find if you wait. 

Thanksgiving Crafts

Crafts are a great way to help young children develop fine motor skills in an engaging and fun way. Of course being dubbed “Turkey Day”, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pull out all the turkey crafts. One fun activity is to trace your child’s hand on a piece of paper and then add eyes, mouth, and nose to the palm of the hand for the face. Cut feathers out of colored pieces of paper to glue on. Older kids would enjoy writing things they are thankful for on the feathers, while younger children may need a little more help to complete this part. Don’t forget to display your child’s thankful turkey as a way to help him remember the things he is thankful for! This craft is the perfect way to combine a little bit of creativity with intentional gratitude. 

Simple coloring pages are always a big, especially with young children. Don’t miss my free free printables at the end of this post that include some free Thanksgiving coloring pages. You can also download my FREE printable Thanksgiving placemats that can be colored and enjoyed by children of all ages – this would be a fun addition to your kids’ table. Download the free pdf file here. 

Stickers are always a hit with children of all ages and there are a multitude of fall and Thanksgiving themed stickers out there along with a variety of different ways you can use them. Pick up some up and stash them away to add to coloring sheets, placemats, and any other little crafts. They also make a great quiet activity for keeping hands buys at the table!

Thanksgiving Cooking and Baking

As you plan your special foods and meal, don’t forget to allow your preschoolers time to help you in the kitchen if you can. That time together in the kitchen not only teaches them valuable life skills and allows them opportunities to practice counting and motor skills and hand-eye coordination, it also lays a foundation of connection, and especially at the holidays, creates warm memories that will be cherished by both you and your child for years to come. 

Baking pies, making cranberry sauce, peeling potatoes, frosting a pumpkin roll – the opportunities are endless. If you have time, try making mini pies or baking sugar cookies using turkey shaped cookie cutters.

Thanksgiving Nature Time

I am a  big advocate for being outside at least a little bit every single day, regardless of the weather. Thanksgiving day is no different, even though I know it can be chilly in many parts of the country. Try taking your children for a nature walk and collecting leaves, acorns, sticks, seed pods and other autumn treasures. 

Another idea is to organize  your own Turkey Trot for your children right in your own backyard. Encourage children to complete a set course while waddling like a turkey. Better yet, set up a few obstacles to make the course a little more challenging and give your preschoolers some extra practice in balance and gross motor skills. This is a great way to incorporate some physical activity into your day and burn off some of that energy before sitting still for a meal. Bonus, you will enjoy your big meal so much more if you have worked up a good appetite with fresh air and exercise!

Thanksgiving Kindness

Perhaps the best way to teach your children the true importance of the season is to help them give to others in some way. You could bake cookies for an elderly neighbor or offer to rake leaves for them. Maybe you want to collect some canned goods and drop them on the porch of a family who is struggling financially. There are so many opportunities to do good for other people when we open our eyes and look for the needs. It is a busy time of year, but taking time to do something for others will teach your children the blessing of giving more than anything else and the practice of giving as a family could become a great addition and tradition to your celebration.

Thanksgiving is such a special time of year and I hope these ideas get you thinking of how you can begin even now to instill in your children the value of giving to others and practicing gratitude in their own lives. Our world desperately needs a generation of people who are thankful, who express thankfulness. 

Thanksgiving Mini-Bundle

I promised a free bundle with preschool Thanksgiving activities and here it is! This is a FREE download. You will find a recommended picture book list, Thanksgiving day bucket list and scavenger hunt, a printable verse on Thanksgiving and several coloring and activity sheets PLUS a recipe for hot, spiced apple cider. You can download this free printable by clicking the link and dropping your email in the box. The download will go straight to your inbox. 

Some of these activities would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving table as you endeavor to help little hands and bodies be still and quiet while the adults eat and visit.  I envision that this bundle will be a way for you teach your children about thankfulness leading up to the day, but it could also be used on Thanksgiving day to reinforce what the celebration is all about. 

I hope that it will be a help to you as you teach your children about thankfulness and I truly hope that it will help you to have a great holiday as you craft, bake, and read together. I would love it if you tagged me on social media using your bundles!

*Some links in the post may be affiliate links and as an Amazon affiliate I may earn a small commission off of qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting my small business. 

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