Here are a few ideas for keeping the kids happy and busy while Thanksgiving dinner is cooking. I've used many of them over the years on Thanksgiving.
Paper Bag Turkeys:
Stuff paper lunch bags with newspaper and decorate them with paper feathers and a paper head.
Make easy turkeys out of mini pumpkins, apples or potatoes. Use toothpicks to attach paper feathers and a head. Have them write something they're thankful for on each feather.
Find the Bird:
Have one child go outside the room. The remaining kids in the room hide a paper turkey. Let the finder back in the room to look for the turkey while the other children gobble quietly and more loudly as the hunter gets closer and further away. This gets really noisy, but it's a lot of fun. This is the turkey picture I used:
Thanksgiving Story Time:
Read stories of the first Thanksgiving, or other children’s Thanksgiving books.
Classic Holiday Movies:
Charlie Brown and Garfield both have fun Thanksgiving movies or you can put in any one of the many great Christmas movies out there.
Cornucopia Confusion Game:
Have all the participants sit in a circle. Everyone get a Thanksgiving food name (turkey, potatoes, yams, etc). The caller stands in the center of the circle and calls two of the food names and when the names are called out, the people the food names belong to switch places. If they say Turkey Dinner everyone switches and the caller grabs a seat too. The person without a seat is the next caller.
Place mats & Name Cards:
Construction paper, markers, Thanksgiving stickers and a little imagination are all the kids need to dress up the "kid table" on Thanksgiving day.
For each turkey:
2 striped shortbread or caramel shortbread cookies
½ of a fluffy marshmallow cookie or an old fashioned chocolate drop candy
small amount of chocolate frosting
1 candy corn
-Frost the cut side and the bottom of the half-marshmallow cookie. The frosting will be the glue. Attach the shortbread cookies to the marshmallow cookie. Glue the candy corn on with frosting also. I've done these at a couple of activities and they come out so cute. They be great to set on everyone's plate.
Pin the Feathers on the Turkey:
Make a turkey out of a brown paper bag and feathers out of construction paper. You can have the kids make their own game and then play it.
Kid Friendly Appetizers:
Popcorn, apple juice, cheese cubes and pickle chunks on toothpicks, olives and crackers w/ cheese slices are all great healthy appetizers to have set out for the kids (even the grown-up kids).
Our Thanksgivings always go so much smoother when the kids are kept occupied. Even when my kids were really young and we'd have Thanksgivings at the fire station I'd bring along a bag of craft supplies.
If you have any ideas to keep kids busy during the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving day, please feel free to leave me a comment and share them with everyone.