Although November is considered one of the three autumn months, Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday of the month, marks the start of the winter holiday season. Thanksgiving brings with it yearnings for exquisitely cooked feasts, as well as frantic hunts for the perfect gifts for everyone in your family. If you have a toddler, their need for attention can get in the way of your search for perfection. Should that be the case, you may want to take a step back, remember to be thankful for your family—said toddler included—and recalibrate your mindset. One way to make this happen is to put aside your needs and spend some time engaging with your toddler on their level. Toddler-appropriate activities and crafts are a great way to accomplish this. Read on for some suggestions of Thanksgiving crafts for your toddler.
Before you start any craft, gather the supplies you’ll need. (Note that we list the basic supplies for the crafts discussed below, but you are always free to embellish as you wish.) Thanksgiving also ushers in the holiday crafting season—before you know it, you’ll also be helping your toddler sprinkle glitter on paper snowflakes, create tree ornaments, or make dreidels out of clay, Therefore, it’s a good idea to get a couple of storage baskets for your crafting supplies so that they don’t take over your kitchen or dining room table. Now … on to the crafts!
For this always-popular craft, you’ll need some white drawing or construction paper and washable tempera or finger paints. If you want to get fancy, also have on hand some googly eyes and craft feathers. Cover your workspace with newsprint and your toddler—and yourself—with one of your worn ladies’ T-shirts.
Take some brown paint and cover your child’s palm. Next, help your toddler pick the colors he wants to use on each of his fingers. (Note: Take advantage of the opportunity and spend a few minutes with your toddler identifying colors and color names.) Once you’ve coated your toddler’s hands, gently press your toddler’s hand, palm down, onto the white paper. Don’t forget to wash your toddler’s hand unless you want handprint turkeys on your walls and other surfaces! Once the turkey has dried, add a pair of googly eyes and glue some craft feathers on the fingers.
Handprint turkeys can be the basis for other Thanksgiving crafts. If you fold the paper in half before you imprint your child’s hand, you can then make a card you and your toddler can send to relatives who live far away and are unable to travel to celebrate with you. The card should fit in a 6-by-9-inch envelope; you can always trim the edges of the card to make it fit. Give your toddler some Thanksgiving-themed stickers to decorate the envelope, and remember to add the correct amount of postage before mailing. Another option is to purchase some clear placemat sleeves. Make some additional handprint turkeys with your toddler, then slide them into the sleeves to make them part of your place settings. Your child will be excited to see their artwork on the table. Note that if you’re planning on making placemats, skip the googly eyes and feathers; you want the placemats to be flat, so drinkware doesn’t topple over.
To prepare for this project, take a leisurely walk with your toddler; be sure they’re wearing their kids’ hoodie if it’s cool, and bring along a small tote bag or a sand bucket. Look for and collect leaves that are colorful and/or interestingly shaped. If your toddler wants to include twigs, acorns, or small pebbles, that’s fine—they will add texture to the collage. Once you return home, you and your toddler can create a collage in a couple of different ways. If your toddler wants to use objects besides leaves, have your child pick out a piece of colored construction paper and then arrange the leaves and other objects on the paper. Give your toddler a glue stick so they can paste everything to the paper. The dried collage can be used as a table centerpiece or hung on a door as a decoration.
If your toddler is creating a collage out of leaves alone, use wax paper. You’ll need two pieces of the same size. Cut off the stems of the leaves; then, have your child arrange the leaves on one of the pieces of wax paper. Once your toddler is happy with the result, place the second piece of wax paper on top, then lay a thin cloth over that. Using an iron set to low-medium heat, press down all over the collage until the two pieces of the wax paper seal together. (If you skip the cloth over the wax paper, you will end up with melted wax all over the bottom of the iron.) Wax paper collages look especially pretty hung in windows.
For this simple craft, all you’ll need is a bag of fresh cranberries, some plain popcorn, and a needle and thread. Your toddler won’t have the fine motor skills or strength to actually string the popcorn or cranberries—you’ll need to do that—but they can create patterns for you to follow. The completed garlands can be tied into necklaces and given to guests as they arrive or left as strings and scattered on the table. This activity can double as snuggle time; just string while earing matching, Thanksgiving-themed ladies’ and kids’ pajamas. After Thanksgiving is over, repurpose the garlands by hanging them from trees.
These are only some of the Thanksgiving crafts for your toddler. If they have the dexterity, they can string and tie off pony beads in fall colors to make napkin rings. Your child can use craft feathers, googly eyes, and a brown lunch sack to make a paper bag turkey. Regardless of the craft, your toddler will be happy to be spending time with you—and that’s something to be thankful about.