Thanksgiving Projects for Little Hands: First Graders – Children often learn better by doing than by hearing, so mixing in crafts and projects with the story of Thanksgiving is almost a no-brainer. Your child can learn about the traditions of Thanksgiving, the food we harvest in the fall, and the simple pleasures of being thankful while enjoying themselves and creating things that will brighten your holiday, some for years to come.
Autumn is the season of apple harvest. Using green and red paint, brown markers, and fabric or construction, you can make pretty apple stamps. Cut an apple in half and using a paint brush, apply paint (fabric paint if you are stamping fabric) to the outer edge of the apple. Stamp onto your paper or fabric, finishing by making seeds and a stem with brown marker. This project can be used to create tablecloths, napkins, decorate clothing, create pretty stationary, etc.
You’ll need craft foam in fall colors, googly eyes, two large marshmallows for each turkey, light brown craft foam and dark brown craft foam. Cut the light brown craft foam into a 3″ square. Cut the dark brown craft foam into a 2″ square. Cut feathers from the multicolored craft foam. Have your child stack the dark brown craft foam onto the center of the light brown craft foam. Glue the marshmallows onto the center of the dark brown craft foam, stacked one on top of the other. Glue googly eyes and a red waddle and orange beak on to the top marshmallow. Add feathers to the back of the bottom marshmallow. Allow to dry thoroughly, then use as decoration.
Construction paper, scissors, glue, markers are all you’ll need for this project. It’s a good way for kids to remember to count their blessings and remember to be thankful. Draw and cut out a tree shape from brown construction paper. Outline leaf shapes on different colored color paper and have your first grader write in what he’s thankful for (younger children can dictate while you write), examples: family, friends, pets, home, school, etc. Then your child can glue the tree to a background sheet of construction paper and glue the leaves to the tree. Cover with contact paper to protect, if desired.
These can be bought as kits, or you can create them yourself with craft foam, scissors, magnet strips, and glue. Simply cut out a 3 ½” x 5 ½” rectangle out of the center of a piece of craft foam. Cut, stamp, or use premade shapes of leaves and other fall shapes. Your child can glue the shapes around the outside of the rectangle, then glue a photo into the center opening. Cut a strip of magnet for the back and glue that on. Your child now has a pretty fall photo frame for his or her favorite Thanksgiving picture.
Autumn Picture Frame
You’ll need an inexpensive picture frame, craft glue, and various outdoor items, such as acorns, twigs, and foam leaves. Your child can glue the items around the edge of the picture frame.
You’ll need mini-pumpkins or apples, an apple corer or melon baller, and a tea light. Scoop out a circle on the top of the fruit, just large enough for a tealight. Your child may be able to do this on his own, but always supervise when sharp utensils are used. Place the tealight in the pumpkin or apple. The pumpkin will last longer than the apple, but either holder is a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving table. Your child may decide he’d like a grouping of them instead of just one, and these will look pretty on a tray or around flower arrangements.
You’ll need pinecones, craft foam or construction paper, googly eyes, glue, and scissors. Buy a bag of pinecones or take your child on a nature walk to pick them up. Cut turkey feathers our of craft foam or construction paper. Glue the feathers onto the back of the pinecone, the googly eyes and a waddle and beak onto the front of the pinecone. Add little orange feet to the bottom. These turkeys can be used as decoration or for placecard holders.
This project is fun for the whole family and brings out the true spirit of Thanksgiving. You’ll need a large plain tablecloth and fabric pens. Your child can be in charge of explaining to your dinner guests that each person may write a blessing or something for which they are thankful on the tablecloth, along with the date. They can also add their name, if they wish. You’ll have a lovely memento, and you may choose to bring it out every year to remind your loved ones of Thankgivings past, adding to it until it is full of thankfulness.
This activity is a classic. You’ll need construction paper cut into strips, glue, and markers. Each child (and person) can write something for which they are thankful on each strip of paper. Once everyone has written their blessings down, your child/ren can begin to glue the paper chain together. It may be used as a garland or simply laid on a mantle.
This is a simple type of bead necklace similar to those worn by Native Americans. You’ll need rubbing alcohol, food coloring, tube pasta, and fishing line. Put the pasta in bowls, add enough alcohol to cover them, then add food coloring to the bowls. It may take over an hour for the pasta to reach your desired color, and then it will take a few more hours for the pasta to dry (remove the pasta from the bowls and lay in a single layer on old newspaper – recycle!). If your first grader is antsy, share snacks and stories about Native Americans and the first Thanksgiving. Once your pasta is dried, string it onto fishing line and tie each end together to make a noodle necklace.
While sharing each project with your child, discuss why it’s important to be thankful for the things we have, tell stories about the Native Americans and the Pilgrims and the hardships that they survived, talk about how food is harvested, and have fun.