Thanksgiving is a time that we reflect and take note of all that we are grateful for. It’s also a time for gatherings and lots of yummy food! Thanksgiving is a fun holiday to explore in the classroom as you can incorporate sharing, giving, and gathering together. We especially look forward to our friendship feast! If you’re looking to explore Thanksgiving theme preschool activities with your preschoolers, we have some fabulous resources for planning your preschool Thanksgiving theme. Most of these activities are designed for kids ages 3 through 5, but many can be modified for younger and older kids as well.
WHY IT’S FUN
A Thanksgiving theme can have lots of fun hands-on learning activities for kids. Students can explore making turkeys with play dough and feathers, dance along to a favorite thanksgiving themed song and wobble like a turkey, or dive into a sensory bin using corn, oats, or cranberries to learn more about the holiday.
WHEN TO TEACH A THANKSGIVING THEME
A preschool Thanksgiving theme is perfect for the month of November. You can spread out your learning and fun throughout the month as you approach the big day of thanks, or you can celebrate the week before students are off for Thanksgiving break.
TEACHING TIPS & MAJOR CONCEPTS KIDS WILL LEARN
If you’re planning a preschool Thanksgiving theme there are many possibilities for incorporating meaningful early learning skills.
These are just some of the concepts kids can learn about during a Thanksgiving theme:
- The Mayflower
- Native Americans
- hunting and gathering
- sharing; kindness
- Colonial America
You can also use craft feathers or Indian corn kernels as manipulatives for many learning activities to teach math and literacy concepts.
ITEMS TO COLLECT AND REQUEST IN ADVANCE
If you get parents, friends, and family involved you can enrich the experience kids have during your preschool Thanksgiving theme.
Collect or ask people to help you collect:
- craft feathers
- brown play dough
- googly eyes
- Indian corn
- plastic pumpkins
PRINTABLE THANKSGIVING THEME LESSON PLANS
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.
The 159-page Thanksgiving Lesson Plan Set includes hands-on activities and these additional printables:
1) Pumpkin Pie Letter Matching (in color and b/w)
2) Rhyming Turkey Game
3) Turkey Color Sorting Mats (in color and b/w)
4) Turkey Counting Mats 1-20 (in color and b/w)
5) Look at the Turkey Emergent Reader (3 variations)
6) How to Make a Pumpkin Pie Sequencing Cards (in color and b/w)
7) 0-35 Turkey Number Cards (4 variations)
8) Phoneme Segmentation Turkey Activity
9) Thanksgiving Taste Test Recording Sheet (in color and b/w)
10) Thanksgiving Picture-Word Cards (in color and b/w)
11) Thanksgiving Roll and Graph (2 variations, in color and b/w)
Also available on Teachers Pay Teachers.
RELATED THANKSGIVING PRINTABLES
Practice a variety of early math skills with our Turkey Feather Roll and Cover Activity Pack.
This turkey feather math games set is perfect for hands-on Thanksgiving learning. It is designed for differentiated instruction, so you can choose the games that best match your students’ needs. Kids can complete these activities during math centers, small group math activities, or morning work time.
The set includes:
8 Game Cube Variations
13 Game Mats with Individual Instructions
Focus specifically on number sense skills with this differentiated set of Turkey Number Sense Small Group and Center Activities.
This 69-page set is designed to be very interactive, giving kids many opportunities to use manipulatives.
You can introduce the ideas during circle time and then use the math games during small group and center time.
There are even differentiated take home packs for families to do the activities at home.
Inside there are:
- Tips and Ideas for Use
- 0-10 Turkey Number Cards Sets in Color and Black and White
- 16 Activity Cards with Hands-on Number Sense Activity Directions
- 9 Small Group and Center Number Sense Activity Mats
- 14 Number Sense Recording Sheets
- 4 Differentiated Take Home Packs of Number Sense Activities
INDIVIDUAL THANKSGIVING THEME PRESCHOOL ACTIVITIES ON FANTASTIC FUN AND LEARNING
Here on Fantastic Fun and Learning we’ve shared the following ideas to go along with a preschool Thanksgiving theme.
Let those little hands run through cranberries, miniature pumpkins, and water with this Thanksgiving soup sensory activity.
Roll your way towards creating a turkey with this Thanksgiving turkey rolling craft. It’s perfect for a busy bag, tot tray, or on the go!
Grab some yarn, craft feathers, and sticks to create a cute yarn Thanksgiving turkey. Kids will get lots of fine motor practice as they wrap the yarn and help place the feathers!
Roll up some construction paper and fray some paper feathers to create this hands-on turkey craft. Lots of scissor skills can be incorporated with this craft!
Grab a dough cutter and paint your way to creating some turkey feather process art. You can even trace feet for the turkey’s body !
Check out these fabulous ideas for a Thanksgiving play date with friends or even classmates. You’ll find everything from art, to sensory play and more!
Turn those little handprints into turkeys and weave in some art history with this Kandinsky inspired turkey handprint Thanksgiving art project.
Get kids singing and moving this Thanksgiving with some of our favorite songs for Thanksgiving. <—our most popular Thanksgiving post EVER!
Set out some loose parts and play dough and let children create their very own Thanksgiving turkey featuring craft feathers for a fun added touch.
Scissor skills are worked into this simple paper plate Thanksgiving turkey craft.
This simple Indian corn kernel squish bag is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers to squish around and discover.
Using some dried Indian corn husks, create a beautiful sunflower craft with Indian corn.
Watch those fine motor muscles flex as kids carefully place feathers into small hole punched holes to create a fine motor turkey feather craft.
This Indian corn craft is a fun way to display one of the many food the Native Americans may have first share with the Pilgrims.
Teach gratitude with a gratitude bouquet and turkey note cards, emphasizing what we’re thankful for. Recipients of the cards will love receiving a handmade fingerprint turkey card.
Use the senses to learn more about Indian Corn. Then use the corn kernels for math activities and art inspiration in this Indian Corn Math & Science project.
Set your own Mayflower assail and incorporate some science too with this fun Mayflower craft and science.
With just some paper plates and sticks, you can create a simple tee pee craft this Thanksgiving.
Have fun with this hands-on turkey feather math as kids learn to recognize different addition number pairs.
MORE ACTIVITIES FROM CREATIVE EDUCATORS
We’ve found some the very best ways to involve the senses this Thanksgiving from friends across the Web. Check out these fun sensory play ideas for Thanksgiving!
Looking for some fun games to play with the kiddos this Thanksgiving? Here are some great Thanksgiving activities and games to play to keep busy.
INFORMATIONAL YOUTUBE VIDEOS
This video from Little Fox is a great animated explanation of the first Thanksgiving.
This first Thanksgiving video from The History Channel is told by kids.
Take a tour of The Mayflower and learn what life was like traveling across the ocean and living on the ship.
If You’re Thankful and You Know it by The Kiboomers is a simple, yet important song that gets kids singing about giving thanks.
Sing about 10 Little Turkeys with this cute Thanksgiving counting song from The Learning Station. Children will count backwards as each turkey flies away.
Get moving with The Turkey Hokey Pokey. Kids will love putting their “wings” in and out!
Kids will love dancing along to The Turkey Dance Freeze from The Learning Station. You’ll flap your wings, strut your stuff, and FREEZE!
Dance along with Koo Koo Kangaroo to the Gobble Gobble Turkey Wobble!
This fun Thanksgiving counting song is sung to the tune of Five Little Monkeys and will have kids singing and recognizing subtraction as the turkeys wobble away.
OTHER ONLINE RESOURCES
Finger plays and action rhymes are a great addition to your preschool themes. Here are a few terrific options to go along with a Thanksgiving theme.
Playing With Words 365 has a great collection of action rhymes, songs and finger plays for Thanksgiving. We especially love The Turkey Pokey! (Hokey Pokey)
Check out some of these fun Thanksgiving songs and rhymes that are all sung to familiar tunes.
If you’d like to supplement your hands-on learning with some online games you might try:
Complete some Thanksgiving riddles, puzzles, and counting games with Primary Games’ Thanksgiving holiday online games.
Challenge children to use their critical thinking skills to place everyone at the right spot around the table based on their likes and dislikes with this fun Thanksgiving table game from ABCYA.com.
FAVORITE THANKSGIVING BOOKS
Affiliate links included.
There are a ton of wonderful books to read for your Thanksgiving theme. Below are some of our favorite picture books for a Thanksgiving theme.
Bring Thanksgiving to life with real photographs and nonfiction texts.
MORE THANKSGIVING BOOKS
Dive into a good book about Colonial America and learn more about what life was like in America shortly after the first Thanksgiving.
OTHER PROPS AND TEACHING TOOLS
Reinforce learning with these hands-on materials for your Thanksgiving theme. They can be used for sensory bins, crafts, and learning activities.
Help toddlers and preschoolers practice color recognition and sorting with these free printable turkey color mats.
Practice shape recognition as you roll and color your way through a turkey themed shape matching game.
Print out these Thanksgiving emergent readers to work on color recognition and reading with predictable text.
Introduce the concept of fractions with free printable pumpkin pie fraction task cards during this pumpkin pie play dough invitation.
Use the five senses to discuss and write about what kids are most thankful for with this free printable Thanksgiving Five Senses Emergent Reader.
Practice letter formation with a Thanksgiving twist using loose parts or play dough and these free printable pumpkin pie alphabet mats.
POSSIBLE FIELD TRIPS OR ADVENTURES
- take a virtual field trip to Colonial America and discover the lives of Pilgrim children
- visit a farm and corn maize
After you wrap up your Thanksgiving theme, you might try one of these themes next: