It’s TURKEY TIME! Thanksgiving is filled with family, friends, food and traditions. What do all these things have in common? Socialization! Thanksgiving Day and the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving provide us with wonderful natural language and social learning opportunities. We want to start helping you prepare your child for Thanksgiving now. The more familiar they are with Thanksgiving and the people that they will see, the more likely they will want to participate and interact with others on the actual day. The more they participate and interact with others on the actual day, the more they will create positive memories and associations with Thanksgiving, which will help them be excited and prepared for next year and also for other special events. This will lead to more friendships, meaningful relationships, a sense of belonging and prideful traditions. Today we want to focus on 3 simple things you can start doing now to help your child on the Day of Thanksgiving with all of these skills: Books, Thanksgiving Themed Activities and Family Themed Activities.
Start reading Thanksgiving related books with your child.
Preschoolers: Some preschoolers may not be ready for a true story book....it may be difficult for them to sit and/or attend to a book. So when you are reading the books, focus on describing the pictures in the book rather than reading the story word for word. If your child is ready for the story, then make it very simple. Focus on 1 to 3 words when reading/talking about the book. The goal is to familiarize them with Thanksgiving related vocabulary such as: turkeys, family members, different foods, etc. Here are a few fun books to read for preschoolers:
“The First Thanksgiving” by Nancy Davis
“Five Silly Turkeys” by Salina Yoon
“Happy Thanksgiving, Biscuit” by Alyssa Capucilli
“Corduroy’s Thanksgiving” by Lisa McCue
Kindergarten through second grade: For these kids you want to look for books that describe the sequencing of events on actual Thanksgiving Day as well as the orientation and history of Thanksgiving (books that describe pilgrims and Indians). Here are a few good books to read:
“The Night Before Thanksgiving” by Natasha Wing
“What Is Thanksgiving?” by Harriet Ziefert
“Thanksgiving is Here!” by Diane Goode
“The First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story” by Laura Krauss Melmed
“Thanksgiving Day” by Anne Rockwell
Third grade and up: With this group of children you may want to focus on finding chapter books about Thanksgiving. A good idea is to read a chapter a night and then have them do an activity related to the chapter like: drawing a picture, writing a summary, creating their own story, creating their own chapter to what they think will happen next, etc. Here are a couple good books to read:
“Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Tree House Series #27) by Mary Osborne
“Pilgrims: A Nonfiction Companion to Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Tree House Research Guide Series) by Mary Osborne
“Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble” (Ready, Freddy! Series #15) by Abby Klein
“Nate the Great Talks Turkey” (Nate the Great Series) by Marjorie Sharmat
“Thanksgiving Thief” (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Series #16 (by Carolyn Keene)
THANKSGIVING THEMED ACTIVITIES
**scroll through all the pictures to see examples of different activities**
Preschoolers: A great way to increase your child’s understanding about Thanksgiving is through art. You can find tons of free printable pages at the following websites:
Print off coloring pages and spend the week coloring, painting and more. When you are done with your artwork, your child can make a book about Thanksgiving or you can tape their art around the house. This will create another social language
opportunity for when you walk through the hallway: “Turkey!” “Look a Turkey!” etc.
Kindergarten through second grade: Thanksgiving related worksheets! You can find a variety of crossword puzzles, math worksheets, mazes, word searches, word scrambles and much more at:
These worksheets are a fun way to work on academics and celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time. Aim for one fun Thanksgiving worksheet a day.
Third grade and up: In addition to worksheets, the following website has some fun interactive games (word searches, crosswords puzzles) and ideas for Thanksgiving related writing activities and reading comprehension activities that your child can do alone or with a family member or friend. They are broken down by difficulty level:
FAMILY THEMED ACTIVITIES
Preschoolers: FAMILY BOOK! Spend time this week making a Family Book. This book should use simple language and include pictures of each family member (or friends) that your child will see that day. Start by a simple title page with a fun Thanksgiving Picture such as “My Family”, “My Thanksgiving Book”, etc. Each person should have 2 pages about them, such as:
- Picture of the person, with their name under it such as: “This is Aunt Carla.”
- A picture of something about Aunt Carla such as: a toy that they like to play with, a picture of Aunt Carla playing with your child, etc, with a simple sentence under it such as: “Aunt Carla likes cars.”
Once your book is complete, read this book at least 2 times a day up until Thanksgiving Day. Then on Thanksgiving Day, bring your book and a few toys that your family likes (within your book). This will help your child be familiar with each person, will help them initiate play, will help them respond to play, and so much more…..all building up to creating meaningful relationships.
Kindergarten through Second grade: A Family Book is a great idea for this age too! For these kids you can take it a few steps further and add more pages about each family member’s favorite things such as: their favorite color, their favorite Thanksgiving Food, their favorite movie, etc. Reading this book will not help with play interactions the day of, but also with Conversation. Remember while making the book you can have your child help you create the book (taking pictures, calling family members to ask questions, emailing family members to ask questions, etc) or you can create it for them.
Three more great activities are “Family Go-Fish”, "Family Memory" and/or “Family BINGO”! For “Family Go-Fish”, you will need to create the cards with each family member’s name and photograph. Then while you are playing focus on their names first “Do you have Uncle Phil?”. After they have mastered this skill (family: name/picture recognition) then you can focus on the this that they like “Do you have an Uncle that likes to play Wii?”. For Family BINGO, you will need to create BINGO cards. Then you can take turns being the BINGO players and the BINGO caller.
Third grade and up: A Family Book is also a great idea for this age group. For this age group you want to take your book even a step further and discuss what are things that are the “same” and “different” as relation to other family members. Such as: “Uncle John likes to play Mario Cart Wii. I like to play Mario Cart Wii too!” or “Aunt Laura likes to bake cookies. My sister, Allison likes to bake cookies too!” Again, with this age group you can have your child help you make your Family Book or you can do it for them. Making the book together is a great activity to do together; however, with the hectic holiday schedule this may not be possible.
Three more great activities you can do with this age group are “Family Go-Fish”, "Family Memory" and/or “Family Guess Who”. For Go-Fish you will need to create cards with your family member’s faces. Then while you are playing instead of asking “Do you have Aunt Alice?” you can say, “Do you have an Aunt with dark long hair?” (describing them physically) or “Do you have an Aunt that likes to watch Princess movies?” (describing their likes/dislikes). Within “Family Guess Who” you will place the photographs of each family member on the Guess Who cards. Then while playing you can describe what they look like and the things they like to do. **make sure to click on the pictures to see them all**
Remember that while participating within these activities, each child is different. So feel free to change up our ideas so that they work the best for your child.
Start preparing your child for Thanksgiving now and they will get the most successful and positive experience on November 23 and during all the fun events leading up to the big day! Enjoy!