Are you looking for some screen-free Thanksgiving activities to keep your kids busy while you cook Thanksgiving dinner? Do you need some easy activities to keep the children off the iPad while the adults watch football? Look no further!
Making a big meal can be so time-consuming but coming up with screen-free Thanksgiving activities doesn’t need to take forever. I have several easy activities we do at home that you can do, too!
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Read Thanksgiving Picture Books
This is so obvious but easily overlooked. Your local library might have some of these titles or you can order them online. These are the Thanksgiving books we have at home:
- It’s Thanksgiving! (I Can Read Level 3) by Jack Prelutsky
- Who Will Carve the Turkey This Thanksgiving? by Jerry Pallotta
- Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr
- We Gather Together…Now Please Get Lost! (Gilbert the Opossum) by Diane deGroat
- Disney’s Winnie the Pooh’s Thanksgiving
- ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
- Just So Thankful (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer
- Arthur’s Thanksgiving (Arthur Adventures) by Marc Brown
If you have a reluctant reader, set up the expectation that your child will need to read (or look at pictures) for just one minute per age. You can use a sand timer to give your child a visual for the amount of time you want your child to read.
You can find more book suggestions here:
- Teach Children to be Grateful – Free Printable Bingo
- Ten Children’s Books that Build Emotional Intelligence
Pumpkin Sensory Bin
While this seems like a super complicated screen free activity, it’s really easy. You probably already have a clear plastic lidded container at home.
Just dump in about 4 pounds of beans or dried pasta and throw in some play pumpkins and scoops or measuring cups.
Then watch your kiddos be occupied for a large chunk of time. This can keep my children occupied for at least 30 minutes.
Supplies for a Thanksgiving Sensory Bin
Directions for a Thanksgiving Sensory Bin
- Find or purchase a medium size lidded storage container.
- Dump in the beans.
- Add some pumpkins.
- Toss in a set of scoops.
Ground rules for a Sensory Bin
The two rules you need to teach your children are:
- the beans need to stay out of their mouths.
- the beans need to stay in the bins.
If your child breaks one of the rules, give a firm reminder of the rules and one more chance. If your child breaks the rules another time, put the bin away in time out for a while. Let the child know they can try again another time.
Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt Printable
When I thought about how I wanted to keep my children busy during the Thanksgiving meal preparation, I decided a scavenger hunt would be the perfect fun and educational activity.
So I create a free Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt printable to share with you!
This printable is fun and purposeful! For my eight-year old, it practices some reading skills. Each word is supported by a picture. This also builds my child’s vocabulary.
For my four-year old, this printable teaches awareness of his environment. He will build knowledge about the things that are common to a Thanksgiving celebration while encouraging him to pay attention to all the items around him.
Steps for using the free Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt printable
- Print out the free printable.
- Place it on a clipboard.
- Give your child a washable marker or pencil.
- Help your child find the first item on the scavenger hunt printable in your home (or the home you are visiting for the holidays).
- Show your child how to put an X over the first item.
Thanksgiving Preschool Printable Pack
If you’re homeschooling or have a preschooler, you’ll want to check out the Thanksgiving Preschool Printable Pack. It’s filled with meaningful and engaging Thanksgiving-themed activities for your child.
It has 13 different activities and is over 30 pages. I included black and white versions as well as full-color in case you’re low on colored ink.
- Related: Thanksgiving Preschool Printable Pack
From my Instagram Stories – are you following me on Instagram yet?
Indoor Leaf Pile
Jumping in a pile of leaves is a classic fall activity. But here in the Pacific Northwest, the leaves often get wet and moldy quickly!
A few years ago when my daughter was in preschool, her teachers had an indoor leaf pile. I thought it was a genius idea and we’ve been doing it every fall ever since.
My son has this leaf blower toy from last Christmas (Thanks Carmen and Tim!).
The truth is we have never put batteries in this toy My son has the sound effects down so I’m not sure how well it actually blows the leaves!
Supplies for Indoor Leaf Pile
Steps for Indoor Leaf Pile
- Separate the leaves. I bought this same set of leaves and they do stick together a bit. You’ll need to fan them out a bit.
- Set up the rules with your kids: explain where they are allowed to play and your expectations about clean up.
- Toss the leaves in a pile and let them play.
Your children might need some support in how to take turns with the rake.
Turkey Handprint with Feathers
Less messy but just as colorful, a turkey handprint with feathers is a great alternative to paint.
Supplies for a Turkey Handprint
Steps for a Turkey Handprint
- Help your children trace their hands.
- Set your rules: glue and feathers only go on the paper.
- Give them the feathers and glue sticks.
Thanksgiving Activities on Screens
Let’s be real for a quick second. You might need to use screens at some point.
Our family enjoys these classics:
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (this includes the movie The Mayflower Voyagers which is a great introduction)
We have PBS Kids from Prime Video and enjoy these Thanksgiving show as well. You can get a free 7-day trial of PBS Kids with Prime. A
- The Berenstain Bear’s Count their Blessings
- Wild Kratt’s Happy Turkey Day
- Daniel Tiger Thank You Day
We love having access to PBS Kids on Prime. After the free trial, it is only $4.99/month. But you can cancel at any time by clicking on settings.
We think the value is worth it to our family and we actually discontinued Netflix because we have plenty to watch on Prime.
Screen-Free Thanksgiving Activities for Kids
These five quick ideas can save your life on Thanksgiving. Order some supplies from Amazon Prime, swing by the Dollar Store, or place a Drive Order at Target.
You can have a wonderful Thanksgiving and feel good about limiting the amount of time your children are on screens.
What other ideas do you have for screen free Thanksgiving Activities?