Creating Thanksgiving Memories

I’m not sure if it’s my mother’s sweet potato casserole or the fact it’s a low-key holiday, but I always look forward to Thanksgiving. In the classroom, we can have Thanksgiving activities for preschoolers that are special yet simple. We can create Thanksgiving memories for our students that will last a lifetime. Let me show you how with some of my favorite holiday ideas!

Keepsake Thanksgiving Placemats

Children love making them and parents always treasure them, so be sure a cute Thanksgiving placemat is written in your November lesson plans! Here are a few favorite placemats my students have crafted over the years!


This quilt-like placemat is filled with colorful squares which were made using a craft punch. It’s a great way to use up all those odds & ends from your scrap paper box. A traditional traced handprint turkey fits nicely in the middle and wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!


Say HELLO to this terrific Triangle Turkey! It’s simple to make and so cute! Your students will get lots of cutting practice when they make this guy! A large brown triangle is the body while smaller triangles form the turkey feathers. I usually have students cut all their triangles at morning Table Time. Then, during centers we assemble and glue the triangles to make the turkey. Gobble! Gobble!


And finally, here’s a gorgeous woven placemat your preschoolers really can make! The prep is super easy. But plan on doing the weaving one on one with each student for the best results. This placemat does require some time and a little teacher patience but it’s worth it because the end result will be absolutely stunning! 

How to Make a Weaving Placemat

First, pick three colors of construction paper or cardstock for the weaving. Second, cut the paper into one inch wide strips using a paper cutter. Next, begin the weaving by laying six paper strips vertically on your background paper (I usually use a white piece of paper to really show off the colors but you could also use a contrasting color).

Use a glue stick to secure a small section of each strip to the top of the background paper. You don’t want to glue the whole strip down. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to weave! Once you’ve put just a dab of glue to hold the strips at the top, pick a color to weave across the placemat.

Explain to the students they’ll be going “over” and “under” as they weave. They will take the weaving paper over the top of some strips while lifting others and going under them. Since they only glued a little at the top of the vertical strips, they should be able to easily slide the weaving strip across.

Continue weaving until you have woven six paper strips across. Dab more glue in areas as needed to hold all the strips in place. Finally, have students cut any extra paper that’s hanging off the sides of their weaving. Laminate the placemat for an incredible Thanksgiving keepsake!

Books You'll Be Thankful For

I gathered five of the best Thanksgiving books for you! These books focus on being thankful.  I know you’ll enjoy reading them to your students and I bet you’ll add them to your favorites list, as well.  For an extension activity, you can create your own thankful lists or class books! 


Gobble Up These Math Ideas

After you’ve read a few thankful books, your students will be ready to gobble up these fun Thanksgiving activities! 

Turkey Counting Mats will have your students practicing numbers from one to twelve. Small craft feathers, rolled lengths of playdough, or cut pieces of chenille stems/pipe cleaners provide plenty of fun, hands-on counting!

Match the Turkey Feathers with this numeracy center. Students will master ten frames, counting sets, number words, and more with this Thanksgiving math activity!

Do your students like to play games? Then they will absolutely LOVE these small group math games!


The Gobble Gobble Card Game is a fast paced game that’s all about numbers from 1-20. But don’t get the Gobble Gobble card or you’ll lose all your cards!

Turkey Dominoes can be played by one, two, or more children during small group time, morning Table Time, or free choice centers. Matching numbers and turkeys while having fun is the object of this game!

Thankful Tree Classroom Display

Make a Thankful Tree display for your classroom! Cut a basic brown tree trunk and limbs from bulletin board or kraft paper. Next, attach the tree shape to a bulletin board, wall, or door.  Ask your students what they are thankful for and write it on a paper leaf. Hang the thankful leaves all around the tree. Provide die-cut leaf shapes for fellow staff members, parents, and others in your preschool building so they can add their notes of gratitude to your class Thankful Tree, as well.  

I’m thankful for you, my teacher friends! I hope you have a memorable and very Happy Thanksgiving!