5 Free Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Thanksgiving painting and coloring for kids

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

It's not easy to keep the kids occupied on Thanksgiving while you add the finishing touches to the holiday meal, but a little preplanning will go a long way. Set up holiday games, such as Thanksgiving-themed word searches or scavenger hunts, or pick out a kid-friendly recipe that allows the little ones to feel like they contributed to the meal. These activities are both free and fun, allowing the whole family to get in on the festivities.

  • 01 of 05

    Thanksgiving Games

    Young girl bobbing for apples
    Alexander Nicholson / Getty Images

    Thanksgiving-themed games can be as involved or as easy as you'd like. If you need to set the kids up with a game they can do solo, print out Thanksgiving word searches or crossword puzzles, or purchase a Thanksgiving puzzle for the kids to put together. If there's a spouse, older sibling, or grandparent willing to supervise and assist, put together a gratitude scavenger hunt, in which the kids search for items for which they're thankful.

  • 02 of 05

    Thanksgiving Crafts

    Children Drawing at Thanksgiving Table
    Alexandra Grablewski / Getty Images

    Thanksgiving-themed crafts can keep kids occupied for hours and, in many cases, they can be done without too much adult supervision. You can set out art projects as simple as Thanksgiving coloring pages or offer up pilgrim-themed crafts. If you have any mini-pumpkins, ask the kids to paint them (using washable paint) to serve as part of the Thanksgiving table decor. If you're spending the holiday away from loved ones, have your child create their very own Thanksgiving card that they'd like to decorate and send to someone they love to wish them a "Happy Thanksgiving."

  • 03 of 05

    Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

    Older woman and granddaughter cooking together in kitchen
    KidStock / Getty Images

    Encourage the kids to roll up their sleeves and help make part of Thanksgiving dinner or a Thanksgiving-themed snack. If you have little ones, they can help scrub the potatoes, tear bread into small pieces for stuffing, or snap the ends off of green beans. Older kids can practice their knife skills by cutting up celery and onion, mash the potatoes, or top the sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows.

  • 04 of 05

    Table Decorations

    Grandmother and granddaughters setting the table for Thanksgiving dinner
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    If you don't feel comfortable with the kids being underfoot in the kitchen, having them set and decorate the table will fill them with pride in a job well done. Give smaller children a simple job, such as placing the napkins and silverware, while older children can help you out by completely setting the table themselves. Teens can even help out by designing a tablescape and taking charge of all the Thanksgiving decorations.

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  • 05 of 05

    Gratitude Exercises

    A Thanksgiving coloring sheet with crayons on a table

    Thirty Handmade Days

    Teach children the spirit of the holiday with gratitude activities. "I'm Grateful for..." is a Thanksgiving activity that will help the kids take a breather and focus on what they're grateful for this Thanksgiving. This free printable from Thirty Handmade Days gives kids the opportunity to put their name, date, who they're grateful for, what they're grateful for, and why. It also doubles as a coloring sheet.