By Melissa Karsten / November 25, 2020

Hands-on activities that will get your kids excited about Thanksgiving!

Adding a seasonal theme to an activity can change your students’ perspective. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem like an assignment to them anymore. Now, if you just had a list of activities to work with in time for Thanksgiving! Let’s see what we can do.

Use What You Have

Let’s start with activities you can do with everyday items that are around your house, or, if you’re out, that are easily added to your shopping list for Thursday.

Little Learning Club has a whole list of activities for toddlers. Some of the more unique ideas were:

  • DIY Fall Play Dough Kit – What tidbits do you have in your craft stores, junk drawer, or even outside that your tots can add to their play dough creations to make them festive and even more special? You can carry over this concept throughout the year with different themes. Maybe even one for each month!
  • Feed the Turkey – It’s getting late to feed your Thanksgiving turkey, but your kids can create their own turkey and then practice motor skills by feeding it as much and as long as they’d like.

The Homeschool Resource Room has a variety of Thanksgiving STEM activities for elementary learners. These really stand out:

  • Bending Turkey Bones – For those who like to get the most out of things, keep your turkey bones. This one is a long-term activity. It’s a great chance to form a hypothesis!
  • Pine Cone Weather Station – We collect pine cones in our house, but I had no idea they could be set outside as a weather station! First, students have an adventure gathering pine cones, and then they keep a journal over time to track what the pine cones show. This activity has possibilities of teaching your learner about data, charts, and probability.

Give your middle school learners some Thanksgiving STEM challenges from Kelly McCown! Get creative:

  • Corn Mazes – I saw a cart full of discounted candy corn at a store right after Halloween, so you might still find some cheap. It might be fun to see what materials your kids can come up with to build their maze.
  • Build a Ship or Table – Translating a 2-D drawing into a 3-D creation using ratios is awesome! This activity could be used anytime in a creative space like a makerspace.

While these Thanksgiving activities for high schoolers collected by eHow are described as classroom activities, they have potential for at-home learning. Give these a try:

  • Expressing Thanks – Sharing a letter of how much someone is appreciated is always a good way to celebrate. And, if the letter thing is intimidating for your learners, a daily gratitude journal is a great alternative.
  • Fun and Games – Who knew problem-solving could be so fun? A game of guess-the-drawing is always a blast, and it definitely takes problem-solving skills.

Product Inspiration

If you’ve purchased from us, glance at the products below for some Thanksgiving-themed inspiration.

Code Cube™:

  • Explore the teacher’s guide for activities:
    • Lesson 6 is perfect for this time of year! Code Cube can detect if a platter is level while students serve a Thanksgiving meal.
    • Lesson 8 gives instructions on a Slide Dance to build up an appetite before the big meal.
  • BONUS Ideas:
    • Code a song of Thanksgiving. Try this one.
    • Have Code Cube display a message to welcome guests.
    • Randomly display a food item to eat, making the meal even more fun.

Arduino CTC 101 – The Catch the Apple activity has students create a game that has Isaac Newton catching as many apples as possible in 30 seconds.

Arduino Education Student Kit – Why wait until Christmas for a light show? Students can program a Thanksgiving-themed light show with the Holiday Lights project.

Fable Getting Started Guide

  • When students learn to program Fable’s colors, they can choose a fall palette.
  • Because Fable can be sound or motion activated, it can be programmed to signal when it’s time for the next person out of a group to share what they’re thankful for.
  • Let students get really creative by having Fable act out a Thanksgiving play. Don’t forget to have them make costumes!


  • Check out the Falling Leaves activity. KUBO can clear the footpath for all the Thanksgiving guests that will be arriving.
  • Let KUBO help write a Thanksgiving story with the Story Elements activity.
  • The Map It! activity has unlimited possibilities on mapping places for KUBO to visit. It could be a neighborhood with several stops on Thanksgiving or a table with a maze of food options.
  • If you haven’t dressed KUBO in a costume yet, check out the Story Time! activity. Then, your learners can design all kinds of creative festive costumes. 

Smart Buddies – Learners can make a map of a grocery store and a shopping list. Then, they can drive their buddy to the correct locations to gather all the items on their list. Some fun obstacles could be added as the skill level increases.

Enjoy Your Holiday

For additional inspiration, check out this blog: “gratitude + SEL | November brings the attitude of gratitude.

Sending a big HAPPY THANKSGIVING your way and wishing you and your students all the best this holiday season! Don’t forget to tell us about what works as well as any struggles, ideas, and inspiration in the comments for all your fall-themed activities!



TOPICS: BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, IDEAS & INSPIRATION, Teacher Resources, Culture, STEM, Trends, Resources, Activities, Hands-on Learning, STEAM

Melissa Karsten

Written by Melissa Karsten

Anyone that knows me well knows I get excited about learning and love asking questions. So, the opportunities to talk with educators online and in their classrooms and learn from them has been awesome the last 16+ years. But, my favorite part is witnessing the students’ “aha!” moments using the hands-on approach. Being a crafter – I’d love to be on "Flea Market Flip!" – I can relate. Now, if there were only a few more hours in the day for my digital projects, gardening, beekeeping, reading, and playtime with my dog, Nellie!