Inside: The Thanksgiving theme is a good time to talk about what you are thankful for, as well as having fun with turkey crafts and pretend play. Come see how we’ve set up our toddler and preschool classroom!
Each year we close our fall units with a Thanksgiving theme.
We focus on what we are thankful for, although that can be a hard concept for young children to understand.
So, as I will talk about more in a separate post, I ask them what makes them happy. What do they love?
This is also when we make a turkey craft and have fun with feathers. This year we even painted with them!
We read fun turkey books and sing songs such as Five Fat Turkeys Are We.
As with all of our themes, we provide lots of playful, hands-on activities!
👉 All of the free printables I created for this theme are towards the bottom of this post. Make sure to check them out!
Setting Up the Thanksgiving Theme for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Take a tour of our classroom set up here:
What’s for Thanksgiving dinner?
I created picture cards (available towards bottom of this post) that we used in our dramatic play area. These cards are a fun way to enrich literacy skills while building conversation about what we want to eat for Thanksgiving.
We had pretend food, dishes, and utensils ready to go, too!
It’s easy to build skills through activities that are done at circle time!
I created a printable (available below) of a turkey with rainbow feathers. I handed each of our toddlers and preschoolers a feather and we called out the name of each color as we placed them on the turkey.
You can see snippets of it in this video.
We created these turkeys in 3 steps. The result were festive turkeys with colorful feathers!
Read more here:
We Are Thankful Banner
We used the leaves that were removed from the leaf suncatchers to make a fun “We are Thankful” banner. It looks so colorful in our classroom window!
Related: How to Create a Friendship Banner
Stamping with Leaf and Turkey Cookie Cutters
One of the simplest art activities is stamping with cookie cutters. We rolled out large sheets of paper and let them stamp leaves and turkeys all over them!
I dyed macaroni different fall colors and invited the children to thread them onto tipped yarn to create Thanksgiving necklaces. A nice calm activity that strengthens fine motor skills!
You can see how we made them here.
We filled our sensory bin with water and dishwashing liquid and pretended to wash Thanksgiving dinner dishes and utensils.
Painting with feathers is quite different than using brushes, as we discovered this week at the easel! I simply placed feathers and paint at the easel along with sheets of paper and let the children have fun painting.
Related: Art at the Easel
We used the same cookie cutters that we used with our Thanksgiving paint stamping activity and added turkey cupcake toppers.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, not every center is theme-related. I also go by the interests of the children.
Construction has been a constant love with this group since the very first day of school.
Awhile back we experimented painting on a 3D surface using boxes. We decided to turn them into parking garages for our vehicles. And, I will be honest, our 2 year olds just wanted to fit as many vehicles in each box and carry them around. Because that’s what 2 year olds do!
I had my first experience with Squigz Toobz. They are basically suction cups that are fun and a great fine motor activity. It took our children awhile to figure out how to use them, but once they did, they carried them around the classroom to see where else they would stick. (The window was the biggest hit!)
Here are the printables we used during our Thanksgiving theme:
More themes for toddlers and preschoolers:
🍎 Planning your fall theme? We’ve done the work for you! 🍎