Thanksgiving projects to work on with your kids

The holidays are a time for food and family. While it's fun to roughhouse with cousins and run around, eventually you'll probably hear, "Mom! We're bored!" Keep your kids entertained with these fun and educational Thanksgiving projects:

Stamped place cards
No matter if your holiday gathering is elegant and simple or fun and colorful, you can make these place cards to show the guests where to sit. Have your kids gather items that make them think of fall. Dry leaves, mini pumpkins and corn on the cob are all great ideas. Then, pour some acrylic paint onto a plate so the kids can dip the items into the paint and then stamp the imprints onto folded pieces of construction paper. Talk about the shapes and lines of the prints, like the veins in leaves and how they help trees grow. This is a fun opportunity to talk about biology as well as geometry. If your kids are learning to count, have them tell you how many items they collected and the number of people coming for dinner. Discuss the colors of paint and place cards, and even work on spelling by encouraging your little ones to write the names of each attendee on the place cards.

Make a nature guide
If you are visiting family or friends over Thanksgiving, get your children out into nature. Take the whole crew for a walk and have the kids bring along notebooks so they can write down what they see. Bring field guides to plants, animals and birds and try to identify everything that flies, hops or strolls by. When you return to where you're staying, help your kids create their very own neighborhood nature guide by drawing every squirrel, songbird and fern they took notice of. Make a colorful book with markers or watercolor paints so the kiddos can show everyone what they learned, from the critters' favorite foods to when they migrate for the winter. You can even talk about whether your kids think the first settlers in America saw these same animals. The pilgrims could have been amazed at the differences between the animals in England and what they found in America.

A leaf gratefulness catcher
Dream catchers are said to prevent bad dreams from getting through to the person sleeping below them. These fun DIY leaf catchers are the perfect place to have your kids write down what they're thankful for on leaf-shaped paper and then stash the pieces in the string. Use an embroidery hoop and wrap fall-colored twin and string from one side to another as you move around the circle to create the web inside. Help your kids cut out leaves of different colors and then add them to the inner workings of the gratefulness catcher. You can read these fun ideas aloud at the dinner table and even get the adults involved for a family project.

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