Thanksgiving is just around the corner and many of us will be getting together with family and friends to share a meal and enjoy quality time together. The adults will be content to fill their bellies and watch some football while they visit. But kids are harder to keep entertained. If you are going to have a houseful of kids this Thanksgiving, here are some ideas to keep them busy and help them enjoy the day as much as the grown-ups.
Children love to help in the kitchen. You can start before the cooking even begins by letting them help with the meal planning. Talk about the different “traditional” dishes that are served for Thanksgiving and see if they have any other suggestions. You never know what new traditions might be born out of a preschooler’s side-dish suggestion. Once the meal choices have been made, take them to the grocery store with you. This is a great opportunity to practice reading and math. Older children can be given a list of items to find and they can even calculate the total or practice looking for bargains. Younger children can help, too, by using a list that consists of pictures instead of words. (Of course, you’ll need an extra dose of patience to pull it off, but it will be worth it.)
When the big day finally arrives, children can help with the preparation and serving of the meal. There are a lot of Practical Life and Sensorial opportunities available for toddlers and preschoolers in the kitchen. They can baste the turkey, mash the potatoes and wash the dishes. Older children can help with measuring ingredients, cutting the pie (a great way to learn about fractions) and setting the table. You never know … helping with food prep might even make them more interested in eating what’s served!
If having the kids in the kitchen isn’t practical, crafts are another way to keep them entertained. Designate a “craft area” and provide a variety of materials they can create with. They can make Thanksgiving placemats and table décor, or even get a head start on holiday cards and décor since the winter holiday season will be in full swing when everyone wakes up the next day.
Finally, assign kids the job of photographer for the day. They learn how to operate smartphone cameras at a young age, and they will probably capture some memorable candid shots from their perspective. Come up with your own creative hashtag and share the fun with friends and family that couldn’t be there.
However you decide to do it, keeping the kids entertained and allowing them to feel like part of the big day will help things go smoothly for you. You might even start some new traditions that they will pass down to their kids someday!