Take some time out of the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving prep to try a few fun-filled activities with your preschooler. Instead of leaving the holiday lessons up to your little learner's teacher, continue exploring with a few Thanksgiving themed plans at home. Your child can learn some Thanksgiving Day facts, make a craft or two and even create her own decor for the holiday table.
The First Thanksgiving Discussion Lessons
Why teach your preschooler that Thanksgiving is all about turkeys and pumpkin pie, when you can instill a much more educational lesson? Don't assume that your 3- to 5-year-old is too young to understand the basics of this American holiday. Preschools often teach young children lessons that fall under the social studies umbrella. The historical and cultural aspects of the first Thanksgiving are easy to translate into a mini social studies plan. Discuss who the Pilgrims were, that they came to this country on the Mayflower, life in Plymouth and the first Thanksgiving with the Native Americans in 1621. Ask your child questions such as, "What do you think it was like on the Mayflower?", "How was life different for the Pilgrims than it is for you?" or "What do you think the first Thanksgiving meal was like?" Write down your child's answers on a chart, and reflect on them after the lesson is over.
The Center for Early Literacy recommends that parents of preschoolers read books, and look at the pictures, with their kids regularly to start off on the road to becoming a reader. Instead of just talking to, or with, your preschooler about Thanksgiving, add in a literacy lesson. Choose a few different Thanksgiving themed books -- you can use both fiction and non-fiction -- that are age appropriate and have plenty of colorful pictures. These may include historical holiday stories, lessons on being thankful or turkey themes. For example, try "Thank You, Thanksgiving" by David Milgrim, "What Is Thanksgiving?" by Harriet Ziefert and "This Is the Turkey" by Abby Levine.
Add a hands-on element to your preschooler's Thanksgiving themed lessons with a crafty art activity. Try making a Pilgrim hat using black construction paper and tape, a hand print turkey with craft feathers glued on or turn a cardboard tube into a Pilgrim puppet by covering it with construction paper and drawing a face at the top. Another easy option is to choose a few printable pages from an activity or educational website such as DLTK or ABC Teach. Print out pages and have your young artist decorate them with crayons and markers or finger paints and glitter.
By the time that your preschooler reaches the ages of 4 and 5 years old she will most likely begin to show an increased interest in dramatic play. According to the child development experts at PBS Parents, preschoolers can explore the world beyond their front door through pretend play scenarios. This can include other cultures, times or places. Bring in a few Pilgrim and Native American outfits or create your own dress-up costumes. Encourage your preschooler to act out a historical Thanksgiving meal, using pretend plastic food, or create her own scene.