Thanksgiving: A special day when we feast and make merry, express gratitude for our friends and loved ones...and try desperately to keep our restless kids away from the kitchen before they cause us to burn the big meal. (Streaming a great Thanksgiving movie will only keep them occupied for so long.) Enter our roundup of Thanksgiving crafts for kids that will keep the under-ten set busy while you get your grown-up on.
1. Mason Jar Turkeys
Paint, pipe cleaners, cardstock and googly eyes are all you need to pull off this mason jar craft. Aside from the hot glue gun step, where grown-up supervision is a minimum requirement, this project is 100 percent kid-friendly. The finished product? A ridiculously cute turkey that can be used as a receptacle for storing pencils, candies...or perhaps even Post-it notes inscribed with expressions of gratitude.
2. Printable Turkey Basket
Why do all the Thanksgiving turkey crafts for kids look so remarkably unrealistic? We don’t know...but we do know that someone else has asked this question and followed up with a (printable) Turkey Day solution—presumably to spare this regal bird from further indignity. Presenting: A turkey basket that comes together quicker than you can say cranberry sauce and looks like the real deal.
3. Wine Cork Turkeys
As soon as you pop the first bottle of holiday wine, be it for cooking or sipping, you’ve got yourself the makings of a wine cork craft—and this one in particular promises to keep a kid occupied and out of the kitchen while you tend to the turkey. It might seem too cute to be true, but with a few felt snippings and some googly eyes, your child can easily accomplish this Turkey Day craft (albeit with a little hot glue gun help for the young ones).
4. Turkey Handprint Craft with Poem
A short limerick goes hand-in-hand (sorry) with the how-to for this classic handprint turkey craft. Variations on this tracing exercise have long been a holiday staple in kindergarten classes and beyond—in part because this craft is great for fine motor skills. Fear not: Once concealed with colorful cardstock and vibrant feathers, even a sloppy handprint can be transformed into a beautiful bird.
5. Mason Jar Leaf Lanterns
For a craft that benefits everyone, assign your child the task of creating mood lighting for the Thanksgiving feast. These mason jar lanterns come together with little more than a few choice leaves—plucked from your kid’s nature collection, of course—and a bit of Mod Podge. The end result? A candle holder that boasts such autumnal elegance, no one will suspect it was made by a preschooler.
6. Turkey Tissue Paper by Number Craft
Color by numbers is a time-honored activity, beloved for its combination of creativity and education. This Thanksgiving-themed adaptation is particularly appropriate for the pre-k crowd since the art project helps with number recognition, spatial reasoning and just following directions in general—a skill most 4-year-olds still need to hone. Plus, the finished product is a fluffy tissue paper turkey that looks so darn cute it deserves a spot on the fridge.
7. Glitter CD Turkey
Haven’t yet bid your 90s CD collection adieu? The suggestion might stir some strong feelings, so feel free to pass: But if you unearth a relic that might just look better as a sparkly turkey than it sounds to you as an adult, roll with it and try this festive craft. Copious amounts of glitter are involved, so it goes without saying that this one will be a big hit with the littles.
8. Mini Paper Bag Favors
These tiny little sacks look like the sort of coin purse that Bilbo Baggins might’ve carried...and maybe that’s why they’re so charming. But don’t worry, you needn’t be a Lord of the Rings fan to get down with this exceedingly simple craft: This one will go down easy if you have a kid that likes making things while eating Reese’s Pieces.
9. Paper Plate Turkey
If you need to prevent a preschool kid from wreaking havoc this Thanksgiving, look no further...we’ve found the crafting cure. The materials needed for this holiday art project—feathers, paper plate, construction paper, paint, glue—are inexpensive and easily acquired. (In other words, you won’t want to cry when your 3-year-old botches the job.)
10. Fall Leaf Watercolor Resist Art
Grown-ups, get your hot glue guns ready: This process art project is well worth the relatively small effort you may need to put into tracing and gluing. (Note: Older kids can conceivably fly solo.) Once the glue outline dries, this watercolor project makes it easy for kids of all ages to paint within the lines—and the finished product is a vibrant fall-themed craft that promises to make any budding artist glow with pride.
11. DIY Thanksgiving Garland
When it comes to preparing for a Thanksgiving feast, the cooking is best left to the older crowd. Decorating, on the other hand, is fair game for even the youngest in your brood. Take this kid-friendly craft, for example—requiring only felt, sparkly stickers and string, this one is simple enough for a toddler to take part in (with a little grown-up guidance) and easily accomplished by a big kid with no help whatsoever.
12. Beaded Pipe Cleaner Corn
No scene of Thanksgiving Day bounty would be complete without a cob or two of corn. This craft is an obvious winner—an artsy activity that produces festive decor and can be executed by a restless young person. In other words, you have one more thing to be thankful for. Best of all, pipe cleaners and pony beads are the only materials required. Easy-peasy.
13. Kid-Made Fall Nature Wreath
This autumnal art project starts off on the right foot with a kid-pleasing scavenger hunt. Invite your child out for a nature walk and work together to collect outdoor treasure that can stand up to the next step: a kid-constructed nature wreath that celebrates the season. This process art masterpiece can and should be designed by the young creative in your life...but a parent will have to handle the hot glue gun.
14. Fall Window Art Suncatchers
There’s a template included in this fun and colorful leaf craft, so even an amateur crafter can get a kid started on this one without any stress. But the magic is really owed to liquid watercolors that, when applied with an eye dropper, create a bold splash of seasonal color.
15. Apple Stamps
Let your brood get into the apple pie spirit with this fun and easy craft. Simply slice an apple in half and have your child help by painting the cut-side red for an apple stamp that best imitates the work of Mother Nature herself. Just don’t forget to give your wee one some googly eyes for good measure.
16. DIY Family Gratitude Tree
Drive home the Thanksgiving message with a simple cardstock craft that requires kids to name things they’re grateful for. Yes, ‘pie’ and ‘presents’ will probably be the first contributions your kid makes to the tree...but eventually something heartwarming will make its way onto a leaf. Worst case scenario: You have a hilarious piece of art to hang and your preschooler got some much-needed practice with scissors.
17. Fall Glitter Leaf Mobiles
There’s no better way to bend a child to your will than by tempting them with glitter. Sure, your vacuum cleaner might get a run for its money later, but who cares? You just got your kid to keep her fingers away from the pumpkin pie. Bonus: This sparkly leaf mobile comes together with the help of hair combs—a novel technique that’s sure to intrigue any tiny artist.
18. Cereal Box Mayflower
If there’s one thing you can reliably find in our recycling, it’s a box that once contained sugary cereal. If you’re in the same boat, snatch that cereal box out of the bin and get to work creating this mini Mayflower with your child. Depending on the age of your child, you will likely end up doing most of the work, since the project requires a considerable degree of precision. That said, tweens can likely go it alone, and there’s room for some little kid participation at every stage of the craft.
19. Artsy Thanksgiving Banner Craft
Kids of all ages can flex their creative muscles and hone their scissor skills with this decorative Thanksgiving banner craft. This particular project leaves plenty of room for self-expression, regardless of skill level: Once the letters have been traced and cut out, anything goes. Young kids will be especially pleased when they see their own artwork hanging for all to admire at the Thanksgiving feast.
20. Fingerprint Turkey Napkin Rings
Have your kids help set the table in preparation for the big Turkey Day feast with a cute craft that boasts a personal touch. Glue, scissors, cardstock and some acrylic paint (an autumnal palette, of course) are all you need to make these festive napkin rings—just maybe do it a day or two in advance, since painting projects and Thanksgiving Day preparations don’t always blend so well.
21. Acorn Painting
This project truly couldn’t be simpler. In fact, it’s easy enough for a very young child to help with. Still, the contrast between the brightly-colored acrylic paint and dull brown acorn cap results in a striking presentation that will make your child feel proud (and your dinner table look nice). Best of all, this craft relies on precious few materials, and one of ‘em can be collected on your kid’s next outdoor romp.
22. Toilet Roll Turkeys
These toilet tube turkeys are surprisingly attractive, and even the youngest kid can get in on the crafting action because they’re exceedingly easy to make. Best of all, this art project is practically mess-free since only markers and tempera paint sticks are required to transform a cardboard tube into this brightly colored bird.
23. Turkey Windsock Craft
This windsock project is a breeze to make and the resulting turkey decor is adorable to boot. Any child old enough to cut and glue can pull this craft off with minimal help, if any at all—just set your kid up with some cardstock and crepe paper and the rest will take care of itself.
24. Turkey Tracks Artwork
Have your child get creative with a process art project that boasts a festive twist. Little kids are guaranteed to get a kick out of putting turkey tracks on paper, and paint and pipe cleaners are the only supplies you need to get the crafting party started.
25. Apple Turkey Craft
Since eating is the main event on Thanksgiving, this edible work of art seems especially festive. It’s also a cinch for kids to pull off and, provided the materials aren’t gobbled up before the turkey is complete, the finished product is quite impressive.
26. Paper Plate Pumpkin Pie Slice
It looks cute enough to eat, but this paper plate pumpkin pie craft is actually just an effective way to get your impatient kid to wait for the much-anticipated feast. Grab the materials (craft paint, cardstock, cotton balls, glitter) and let your hungry artist have at it…but to minimize potential messes, you might want to consider standing by when your kid busts out the glitter.
27. Styrofoam Cup Pilgrim Hat Craft
Set your kid up with some paint, cardstock and a Styrofoam cup for a cute Thanksgiving craft that’s sure to keep tiny hands occupied (for a while, at least). These miniature pilgrim hats are easy to make—though some adult assistance will likely be required when the paint has dried and the project is ready to be assembled.
28. Wood Slice and Washi Tape Turkeys
You’ll probably need to pay a visit to the craft store to pull off this parent-child team project, but the finished product is so cute that Thanksgiving guests both young and old are bound to gobble it up. The process for making this wood slice turkey is completely kid-friendly (as long as a grown-up handles the hot glue gun) and virtually mess-free. Bonus: When the work is done, you’ll have yourself a centerpiece.
29. Autumn Tree with Pumpkin Seeds
We love looking at this edible collage of pumpkin seeds in shades of fall (thanks, food coloring) and have it on good authority that your kid will love the hands-on process of crafting it. Bonus: Pumpkin seed art provides kids of all ages with a pretty cool tactile experience.
30. Corn Painting Craft
With an eraser tip (in lieu of a paintbrush) your kid can bring the colorful kernels of corn to life. This craft is an easy and hassle-free way to keep little kids entertained on Thanksgiving Day...you know, in case you need a few minutes to baste the bird.
31. Leaf Painting
This craft gets extra points for novelty, because painting on fall leaves is infinitely more interesting than simply painting on paper. Aside from the leaves, all you need is paint and paintbrushes for this art project. Best of all, the creative activity will give your kid’s growing collection of dead leaves a sense of purpose and an aesthetic upgrade.
32. Gourd Turkeys
Googly eyes and feathers are a winning combination in the world of kid crafts, so you can rest assured the young person in your life will have a blast with this one. Using only a few basic supplies, your kid can transform a gourd into a goofy looking turkey. Bottom line: The process is easy and the finished product is sure to charm all the guests at your Thanksgiving feast.
33. Fall Handprint Wreath
This cute handprint wreath comes together with nothing more than a paper plate, a stack of fall-colored construction paper and a bit of ribbon. The process, which involves lots of tracing and cutting, promises to give your kid’s fine motor skills a workout and the finished project is a sweet decorative touch that both you and your child will be happy to see on display.
34. Gratitude Stone
Using tissue paper and Mod Podge you and your child can transform a humble pile of rocks into eye-pleasing symbols of gratitude. (Giving thanks: It’s the reason for the season, y’all.) Small children will find the delicate tissue paper hard to work with, but with a little help from a parent, the project is plenty kid-friendly, and you’ll both be thankful for the time spent together.
35. Gumdrop Turkeys
These adorable, edible turkeys can be assembled without any grown-up supervision...except maybe some monitoring for excess candy consumption. Bonus: The finished craft can double as dessert—good news if you haven’t achieved star baker status just yet.
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