Fun Thanksgiving Sensory Activities for Kids

Child wears turkey crown Thanksgiving activity.

Thanksgiving, the season of gratitude, provides excellent opportunities for families to gather at the table for activities, crafts, and games. This list of fun Thanksgiving activities for kids will help you to choose the best projects that suit the ages and interests of your little ones. While they cut out hand turkeys or create painted leaf prints, consider teaching your kids about the real history of Thanksgiving by centering the season around Indigenous People(s). With the activities below, your kiddos will be listening to this important story, while also experiencing the benefits of sensory play like developing their fine motor and problem solving skills. 

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Thanksgiving Activities for Infants

Infant plays with Thanksgiving food activity.

Play that engages all of your baby’s eight senses will help to develop their brains and strengthen their bodies. Here are a few Thanksgiving activities for infants to help you get started on your baby’s messy play journey.

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Let them taste the holiday

If your infant is trying solids, let them get to know common Thanksgiving foods and flavors! So many seasonal dishes are already softened like stuffing, mashed potatoes, or candied yams. Meat and vegetables can also be cut into small bits for your baby to taste. Even let them try a little pumpkin pie filling for dessert!

Make a Thanksgiving Sensory Bag

Place some of the Cranberry Dough (recipe below!) in a resealable bag and let your little one squish it!

Paint with Autumn Colors

Make some edible paint by simply combining yogurt or baby cereal with food coloring, then let your baby paint on butcher paper or even in the walls of the bathtub! Be sure to test the colors on the tub and walls to make sure they don’t stain the grout or bath. These natural food colorings are also super fun for little, little ones.

Paint a Foot or Handprint Turkey

Capture your little one's foot or handprint for years to come by creating a food or handprint turkey! Just paint their tiny body parts with safe paint, then press them against some colorful construction paper in a crescent shape. Cut or draw a turkey’s head, body, and feet in between and you have a foot or handprint painting!

Read a Thanksgiving Board Book

So many great Thanksgiving kid’s books will help your family celebrate the season educationally. Reading improves your kiddos’ auditory processing and language skills. Consider purchasing a book with tactile elements like sounds, scents, or soft textures for extra learning sensory opportunities. 

Thanksgiving Activities for Toddlers

Child plays with Thanksgiving sensory bin activity.

Thanksgiving crafts for two and three year olds are such a fun way to celebrate the season. These turkey activities for toddlers and other creative seasonal crafts will keep your kiddo engaged, so you can focus on holiday planning.

Squish Cranberry Dough

Mix some extra cranberry sauce and cornstarch together until it creates a doughy consistency. Then let your toddler squeeze and sculpt this beautifully pink dough! 

Make a Thanksgiving Sensory Bin

Start your sensory bin with any of my safe sensory bin materials. For Thanksgiving or Autumn themed sensory bins, I suggest using corn kernels or oatmeal. Or try pinecones and acorns Then add fake leaves, pumpkins, turkey toys, and any other things that remind you of the holiday!

Paint with Corn

Cut a stalk of uncooked corn just large enough for your little ones to use as a roller. Then have them roll the corn in paint and then on the paper. They’ll see a really cool pattern appear as they slide their hands up and down the page.

Cut a Thanksgiving Felt Board

Tape a piece of felt to the wall. Use a stencil to sketch, then scissors to cut Thanksgiving themed shapes from the extra felt: turkeys, cooked food, vegetables, leaves, etc. Let your kiddos create their very own felt scene! 

Pour a Thanksgiving Themed Sensory Bottle

Pour some corn kernels and other fun Thanksgiving shapes into a sensory bottle and shake, shake, shake! Mini erasers and beads are great ways to find themed toys small enough to fit in a bottle. Your littles one can play “I Spy” as they try to find the various toys hidden in the bottle.

Try Feather Color Sorting

Sorting is a great Thanksgiving activity for toddlers. Buy a bunch of different colored feathers, then have your child sort them by color. Offering them a variety of cups or containers to sort into will encourage this play. This process will help improve hand-eye coordination and dexterity.

Thanksgiving Activities for Preschoolers

Thanksgiving chain paper activity with scissors.

 Preschoolers can enjoy more complex Thanksgiving games and lessons than younger kids. These Thanksgiving activities for preschoolers will help them to celebrate the season with fun arts and crafts!

Create a Turkey Wreath

Cut a paper plate in half, then decorate it with feathers and turkey-shaped construction paper parts.

Paint Fall Leaf Prints

Go outside and grab some soft leaves. Put some paint on them, then press them onto a piece of paper to make a fall leaf print.

Create a Contact Paper Scene

Grab a number of Thanksgiving themed objects like feathers, turkey shapes, leaves, and cranberries, then push them against contact paper attached to the wall.

Make a Turkey Salt Painting

Have your little ones make a turkey shape out of glue, then pour white salt on top. Then use liquid food coloring in pipettes or droppers to color the salt!

Cut a Turkey Crown

Cut construction paper into a turkey crown and wear it all day long!

Make a Corn Craft

Cut construction paper into the shape of a corn, then let your little ones decorate it by gluing dried corn kernels, beans, and garbanzo beans on top.

Hang a Gratitude Chain

You can also have your kiddos write their gratitude lists on strips of paper that can be stapled together into a chain and then hung.

Thanksgiving Activities for Kindergartens

Thanksgiving Gratitude Turkey Activity

Your Kindergartener can do all of the activities above. They can also enjoy the Thanksgiving and gratitude activities specifically for their age group below.

Paint or Color Taped Wall Turkey 

Tape a large piece of butcher paper on the wall. Then make tape lines on top of it in the shape of a turkey. Have your kiddos paint the space in between the tape. 

Make a Gratitude Turkey 

Ask your little ones what they’re grateful for. Then have them practice their letters by writing the words on a piece of construction paper shaped like a feather. All of the feathers can be glued together with the other animal parts to make a gratitude turkey!

Bake Fall Leaf Cookies

Baking is a great way to engage kids in sensory play. Grab some leaf, autumn vegetable, or turkey shaped cookie cutters, then bake and decorate!

Do the Dancing Corn Science Experiment

Gather dried corn kernels, baking soda, white vinegar, a clear glass jar, and an art tray. Pour one cup of kernels into the jar and place it on the tray to contain the mess. Then fill the far ⅔ with white vinegar. After that, add ¼ cup of baking soda. The liquid will begin to fizz and overflow out of the jar! Eventually, the corn kernels will start dancing.

Here’s some fun science info to teach them as you go! Mixing baking soda and vinegar causes two types of chemical reactions. The first is an acid-base reaction when hydrogen ions in the vinegar respond with the sodium and bicarbonate ions within baking soda. This creates two new chemicals called carbonic acid and sodium acetate. Then a decomposition;reaction takes place because the carbonic acid decomposes into the water and releases carbon gas. The gas then bubbles to the top of the mixture and rises creating the fizzing effect! So fun!

No matter what activities you choose this Thanksgiving, I hope that you and your family have a fun, safe, and sensory-filled holiday season! As always, enjoy the mess!