Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your preschool classroom or homeschool? Keep reading for the best turkey-inspired preschool Thanksgiving activities that are sure to make this Thanksgiving season meaningful!
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PRESCHOOL THANKSGIVING ACTIVITIES
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to inspire an attitude of gratitude in your little ones while also bringing you closer together, whether that’s with your kids at home or with your students in your classroom.
Keep reading for over 20 Thanksgiving-themed activities for your preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten littles. These ideas include math, literacy, fine motor, gross motor, sensory play, snacks, and more!
Although we love doing Thanksgiving activities, I did not include any that talk about the first Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, most Thanksgiving activities do not accurately reflect what really happened to the Native Americans when the Pilgrims came to America, and this can be a tricky subject to talk about with preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Before deciding how to approach this topic with your little ones, I encourage you to research more about it. In my class, I choose to focus on Thanksgiving as a time of gratitude and to share what we’re thankful for, plus we love doing activities with silly turkeys!
PRESCHOOL THANKSGIVING ACTIVITIES: LITERACY
Choosing books is one of my favorite things to do with each new unit. Check out our favorite kindergarten and preschool Thanksgiving books here!
Phonological awareness skills are the key building block to reading success, which is why they should be practiced a little bit every day. In order to keep things fresh & engaging, I like to use phonological awareness games that go along with my current theme. Click here to check out these Thanksgiving phonological awareness games that will help your little ones become strong readers in less than 10 minutes a day (and with zero supplies!)
You’re definitely going to want to start your Thanksgiving unit with these Thanksgiving vocabulary cards! These vocabulary cards are the perfect way to introduce your little learners to the vocabulary that goes along with this holiday. You can use these words in SO many ways, such as in your writing center, as a “Read the Room” activity, or as a picture match. They are also perfect for your Thanksgiving sensory bin!
Alphabet knowledge is a crucial component when preparing our little ones to read. We want them to be able to identify the name AND sound of each letter, which research shows positively impacts future reading success.
This activity asks little ones to match up pumpkin letters. They can match uppercase to uppercase, lowercase to lowercase, or uppercase to lowercase. They can tell you the name of the letter, the sound represented by that letter, and a word that begins with that sound. All of these activities will help prepare them for reading.
It’s rhyme time! Rhyming is not only fun for our little ones (and honestly us!), but it also helps with developing phonological awareness skills. Have them choose a slice of pie and name the two pictures on the pie. If the words rhyme, have them feed that slice of pie to the turkey. If they don’t rhyme, the turkey can’t eat the pie! To make this game even more fun, cut out the turkey’s head and tape it to a box or bag!
Did you know research shows people who practice gratitude have greater optimism and positivity, stronger immune systems, and lower rates of depression? It’s true! And it’s never too early to teach our kids to say thank you and appreciate what they have in life. Use this FREE download to have your students write down what they’re thankful for in the month of November. Read more about this activity and download the cards in THIS blog post.
Another way to inspire an attitude of gratitude is by creating a “Thankful Jar.” Each day in November, we write down one thing we’re thankful for and put it in our pumpkin jar. Then on the last day of the month, we read through them together. I love using these FREE Gratitude Prompts from Engaging Littles to help spark new ideas!
This Thanksgiving preschool activity combines math & literacy into one engaging center! Your little one will spin the spinner and identify the school supply in the turkey’s hands. Then they’ll trace the letter that represents the beginning sound of that school supply. Keep spinning until one of the turkeys wins by reaching the top!
Looking for turkey-themed printables that require ZERO prep? Check out the November Learning Binder! It includes print-and-go turkey activities you can incorporate into your Thanksgiving theme.
PRESCHOOL THANKSGIVING ACTIVITIES: MATH
Turkey in a Bag is a fun & silly way to practice counting, subitizing, and one-to-one correspondence. You can read the directions for playing this game as well as download the FREE Turkey Numbers in THIS blog post!
These turkeys need a little help to figure out how many feathers they have! Have your little one count the turkey feathers and clip the correct answer. Using clothespins in this activity is a great way to develop fine motor skills while also working on one-to-one correspondence and number recognition.
Where’s the turkey?! These turkeys are hiding from the farmer by dressing up as different shapes. Your little one will identify each turkey’s shape and match it with a shape card. This activity helps little ones deepen their understanding of shapes and their characteristics.
Winner, winner, Thanksgiving dinner! This dice game asks your little one to roll a die, identify the number, and put the corresponding food onto their plate. Your littles will walk away from this activity with more confidence subitizing and counting…and more excited to eat Thanksgiving dinner, too!
Trust me, you’ll definitely want a piece of this pie! You can use Pumpkin Pie Play Dough or small manipulatives with this activity. Introduce addition by having your little one choose a card, count the number of pie slices, and count the number of pie slices that have already been eaten. They’ll visually see that those numbers add up to 4 slices of pie. This is a great activity to show that part + part = whole.
Nature has so many amazing patterns that we can learn from. In this activity, your little ones will create patterns out of their turkey feathers by using small pieces of colored paper. Challenge them to create AB, ABB, AAB, or ABC patterns, depending on their level.
If you have little ones still working on color matching, this is an easy activity to set up for them! Draw a turkey (or print one out like I did), and then draw colorful feathers. Using Froot Loops cereal (or colored pom poms), have them fill the turkey’s feathers with the correct color. (I used this FREE Turkey Clip Art to create our turkey).
Another way you can use this colorful turkey is by working on counting. Call out a color, and then have your little one roll a die. They will add that many Froot Loops (or colored pom poms) to the correct turkey feather. Want to increase the difficulty? Give them an addition problem to complete first, and the sum will be the number of pieces they add.
PRESCHOOL THANKSGIVING ACTIVITIES: SENSORY, SNACKS, & HANDS-ON IDEAS
If you haven’t made Pumpkin Pie Play Dough yet, you’re missing out! It smells AMAZING and is so much fun to squish, roll, and manipulate. We pretended to make Pumpkin Pies by using the play dough with mini pie tins and “whipped cream” (cotton balls). The recipe for Pumpkin Pie Play Dough is included in my Thanksgiving pack!
If you have toddlers or young preschoolers, a super simple sensory bin for Thanksgiving is a fake leaves bin. All I did was put fake leaves (and a few fake pumpkins) in a sensory bin and let my toddler explore and create. He loved it!
Another Thanksgiving sensory bin that’s fun for preschoolers and is a Corn Kernels bin (*adult supervision required). I simply added un-popped corn kerns along with fake leaves, fake pumpkins, and scoopers, and I let my students free play! Read more about it in THIS blog post.
Another way to use a Corn Kernels sensory bin is to pair it with an academic activity. For this bin, I put a paperclip on each FREE Turkey Number card (download here) and hid them in the bin. Then my preschooler used a magnetic wand to get a number and matched it to the corresponding ten frame. He thought using the wand was magical! Read more about it in THIS blog post.
This is another magical activity for kids! Print (or draw) fall leaves on white paper. Then write each child’s name with a white crayon on the white leaf. Have them paint their leaf (or use dot markers) until their name appears!
Teaching kids to write their letters correctly is SO crucial for success in kindergarten and beyond. One of the first steps in this process includes forming letters in multisensory ways, such as using a gel bag.
All you do to create this bag is add clear hair gel to a zippered bag (we also added orange food coloring to go along with our theme). Zip it and tape it closed, and tape it to a table. Then your little ones can write letters on the bag using their finger. I had my students choose a Pumpkin Letter and write it on the bag, but they could also write their names or CVC words.
My daughter made this sweet placement when she was in kindergarten, and we love to pull it out each year when decorating for Thanksgiving. She made a turkey handprint in the middle and wrote things she was thankful for around the outside. Such a sweet memory!
Many of us have made Rice Krispies treats before, but have you made Coco Krispies treats? Let me tell you, they are delicious! And they’re even MORE delicious when they look like little turkeys! Head to THIS blog post to read the directions for making these cuties.
Here’s a unique turkey craft that’s super easy to do with little ones…a sponge-painted turkey! Head to THIS blog post to read all about it!
TURKEY-TASTIC THANKSGIVING FUN FOR PRESCHOOL & PRE-K
I hope these ideas helped you fill-in your Thanksgiving-themed lesson plans for your preschool classroom or homeschool! All of the printables for this unit (that aren’t freebies!) can be found in my Turkey Day Hooray Preschool Mini Activity Pack.