Ah, the holidays. It’s almost Thanksgiving and your list just keeps growing! You’ve got guests coming, a table to set, a pie to bake and (of course) a turkey to cook. And, on top of all that, you have to keep the kids busy! Instead of plopping them down in front of the TV (or handing over your tablet), let the kiddos help you! How? Check out these easy (and totally fun) ways that kids can help out with Thanksgiving preparation.
Okay, so you’ve already chosen what everyone will eat for Thanksgiving dinner. But, has anyone made an actual menu? Probably not. Letting the kids help you with this doesn’t just occupy their time. It gives you a crafty DIY décor piece too! Give the kids card stock paper, markers, or colored pencils, and let them get as creative as they want. You can write each menu item on a piece of paper, and have them copy it. If your child is too young to write on their own, write the menu words for them and have them trace over them.
Transform setting the Thanksgiving table from a task to an awesomely imaginative activity. Before you start stacking plates, have the kids make table “blueprints.” They can use blue crayons and paper to draw out a table or a place setting design. Gather together what you need (it’s okay to tone down an over-the-top kid creation) and have the children set the table for you. If more than one child is setting the table, assign each person a role. One can be the director, another can put out placemats and someone else can set down the plates. The kids can even come up with cute or funny names (such as Princess of the Napkins or Place Setting Prince) for each job.
You could go out and buy a pricey centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. Or, you could have your child craft you a priceless one! If you’re looking for a simple holiday craft, have your child wrap pieces of folded tissue paper (in fall colors) with pipe cleaners. What do you get? Magical mock flowers. If you’re looking for something more complex, collage that fall-hued tissue onto the outside of a glass jar (then cover it with a layer of clear-drying school glue) to make a vase or use paper mache, craft feathers and paint to create a centerpiece turkey.
Can the kids prep and cook the turkey? Um, no. But, they can help out with the cooking in other ways. From measuring to mixing, cooking is a fun way for kids to learn about some of the more scholastic concepts—such as science and math. Kids can also get in some literacy learning by reading each recipe out loud. Your child can mix up some biscuit batter, and then watch as you pop it in the oven. Ask them to predict what will happen to the liquid-y dough. After taking the biscuits out, ask your child to observe and record (they can either write it out or draw a picture) what happened. You can also use the predict, observe, and document scientific approach for other kitchen experiments!
Helping in the kitchen requires your child to know and recognize safety rules. Instead of just listing out the rules to your child, help them to understand by making an interactive “Thanksgiving kitchen safety” book. Cut cardboard squares (reuse the sides of old boxes), punch holes along with left side and bind the book together by tying it with ribbon. Walk through the kitchen and point out each safety concern (such as sharp knives or the hot stove). Your child can draw one page for each issue that you note!
Turn Thanksgiving into together-time with a completely creative family activity (or a few)! Whether you’re making menus together, setting the table or getting crafty in some other way, including the kiddos in the prep work makes the day more fun for everyone!
Capture the entire day (plus that secret family recipe) in a custom board book. From start to finish, generation to generation, your Thanksgiving favorites can be passed down to every “pint size” chef in-the-making!