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It's Turkey Time! Three Preschool Games for Thanksgiving

written by: Tammy Szczepanik • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 6/6/2012

There are a few holiday games that can be beneficial for preschool children. For example, preschool games with a Thanksgiving theme are a fun way to teach children about the food served at this time of year and teaches them to be thankful for what they have.

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    Playing these types of games with your preschool class will not only teach them memory skills, social skills and cultural awareness, but it will allow them to celebrate this holiday together before everyone goes home for Thanksgiving break.

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    The Thanksgiving Food Memory Game

    Do you remember the popular "I'm going on a trip" memory game? You can play this game with a Thanksgiving twist! Everyone will name something they like to eat on Thanksgiving while trying to remember the previous answers as well.

    How To Play:

    1. Before the game, everyone will sit in a circle and you will explain the rules to them.

    2. One person will start off the game by sharing what he or she likes to eat. An example of how to start off the game would be: "On Thanksgiving, I like to eat turkey." You can start the game off to show the children how to play, or let one of your students start it off.

    3. The second person can answer with something they like, while remembering the first answer. An example would be "On Thanksgiving, I like to eat mashed potatoes and turkey".

    4. The next person will add in his or her own answer, while remembering the two previous answers. For example, they can say, "On Thanksgiving, I like to eat corn, mashed potatoes, and turkey".

    5. The game will continue like this, with each child sharing what he or she likes to eat while remembering the previous answers.

    6. If a child cannot remember all of the answers, then he or she is out of the game.

    The game will continue until there is only one child left (to be declared the winner) or until everyone has gotten a chance to share something and try to remember the class' previous answers. This will depend on how you want to play it with your preschool class, as well as how much time you have to play. The Thanksgiving Food Memory Game will help children to learn about the variety of foods that can be served on Thanksgiving, as well as improving their thinking and memory skills.

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    Pin The Turkey On The Plate

    This game is similar to the popular "Pin The Tail On The Donkey" game. But instead of pinning the tail on a donkey, the children will be pinning the Thanksgiving turkey on the plate. This game will require a few materials in order to play.

    Materials:

    • A photo of a cooked turkey - This can be a cutout from a magazine or a printout from the Internet.
    • A photo of a large plate - Once again, this can be a cutout from a magazine or a printout from the Internet. You can also draw the plate on a large piece of paper or poster board. Another fun idea would be to use a large paper plate!
    • Self-adhesive foam - This will be placed on the back of the turkey when the class is ready to play. You will need enough for both the photo of the cooked turkey and the photo of the plate (or the paper plate).
    • A blindfold - This can be an actual blindfold, eye mask, or a bandana. You can look for one in a fall color or Thanksgiving print.

    How To Play:

    1. Use a piece or two of the self-adhesive foam to stick the plate on the wall. Be sure your preschool children can reach the plate with ease.

    2. Place a piece or two of the self-adhesive foam on the back of the photo of the cooked turkey.

    3. Line the children up in a single file line. This way everyone will have a chance to play.

    4. Place the blindfold on the first child and spin him or her around two or three times.

    5. When you are done spinning the child, point him or her towards the plate and have them try to put the turkey on the center of the plate. When they are done, remove the blindfold and let them see where they actually placed the turkey. Be sure to keep track of where the turkey is placed during each child's turn.

    6. Pull the turkey off of the plate (with the self-adhesive foam still on the back) and repeat steps four and five for each child who is playing.

    7. The child who places the turkey as close to the correct spot on the plate as possible is the winner of the game.

    This game will teach children about the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving dinner and allow them to celebrate the holiday with a fun party game! They will also learn body control and encourages concentration and strengthens gross motor skills.

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    The Thankful Game

    This game will allow children to share what they are thankful for in life. It does require a few materials in order to play.

    Materials:

    • Index cards or cut pieces of paper (big enough to write on and read)
    • Markers
    • A bag that is not see-through - This can include a shopping tote bag or a brown paper bag.

    How To Play:

    1. Use the markers to write down different items and loved ones on each index card or piece of paper. This can include "Family", "Friends", "Pets", "Clothes", "Home", "Food", and even "Toys". You can also write down "Wildcard" or come up with a symbol or phrase to represent the wildcard, such as "Happy Thanksgiving". Write only one per index card or piece of paper. Each one should only be written out once, rather than writing the same thing down on five different cards.

    If you want, you can draw out a few graphics to represent each word on the list. For example, you can draw an apple, turkey, and carrot for "Food" and a house for "Home". You can use a graphic and word together on each card or paper, to help preschool children with their reading.

    2. Fold each index card or piece of paper in half, so that the words or photos can not be seen while the children are picking them out.

    3. Place all of the folded index cards or pieces of paper into the bag and shake it up a little.

    4. When you are ready to play, sit each child in a circle. You should be sitting at the front of the circle.

    5. Let the first child pick out one index card or piece of paper from the bag. Whichever card they draw, they must share what it is and why they are thankful for it. For example, if they draw the "Family" card, then they can say, "I am thankful for my family because we all love each other". If they draw the "Wildcard", they can come up with something of their own they are thankful for and state why they are thankful for it. If the child cannot read the word written on the card, you can help them with sounding it out.

    6. When they are done sharing what they are thankful for, have them fold the card in half and place it back into the paper bag. Shake it up again and repeat step five for each child who is playing. You can pass the bag around or let each child come up to you and pick out their card.

    This game will not only remind children of who and what they are thankful for, but it will also help them to improve their reading skills as well.

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    You can play these themed games as part of a Thanksgiving lesson, after the children have finished their classwork, or during recess. You can also throw a Thanksgiving party before the class goes on holiday break and choose a few games to play. Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving!

References

  • Author's ideas from working with children and learning about various holiday games in the past.
  • Photo courtesy Public Domain Pictures.net

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