Getting Younger Kids Outside: Thanksgiving edition

As a child, I remember the excitement of watching the turkey cooking, fighting with my siblings over who would baste the turkey, and bundling up to play outside as we awaited the feast! Now with young children of my own, I appreciate even more the significance of holiday traditions and the unity they bring about. I hope our children will enjoy this time of year spent with family as we acknowledge our many blessings and build our traditions together. As we fine-tune and modify these traditions over time, one theme will likely remain—we will get outside and get moving in one way or another!

As an alternative to the traditional football games (played and/or watched!), we’ve come up with a few ideas for keeping the younger ones moving and involved. If you have family visiting, or you are the visitors yourselves, these ideas may be helpful in the effort to keep the peace with extra numbers. This list of activities will serve the needs of the kids who need to get moving and the ones who like to get crafty!


This is a fun project that is also an opportunity to raise awareness and to teach the meaning of Thanksgiving! While the kids play outside, enlist their help to collect sticks and other foliage (we used ferns) to arrange in a vase. At home, each member of the Thanksgiving party will write something they are thankful for on a small card and attach their card(s) to a stick. Make it decorative! Using colorful felt (or construction paper!) cut out leaves to attach to the sticks.  Look here for more thankful/gratitude tree ideas.

Our simple thankful tree/center piece



Yes, we’ve all seen/made these before! Sometimes, however, it helps to have a mission to get out the door. Challenge the kids to find pine cones—the biggest pine cone, the most number of pine cones, let’s see how many pine cones we can count, etc…you get the idea. You may want to establish two teams:  the pine cone hunters, and the turkey makers!  Use real feathers, tissue paper, felt, or whatever you have on hand to make the feathers, legs, etc. For a great tutorial and the pattern for the turkey below, go here!

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:



Yes! Again! I’ll recap what I mentioned a few weeks ago and add a Thanksgiving twist. Set up a small loop in your cul de sac, backyard, park, or another safe spot nearby (we usually draw it out with chalk, or set up cones in the grass). Download our printable race cards PDF, pin a card on each child, and set them out to run/bike/scooter/skate the loop. Each time they complete a lap, hole punch their race card. This time around, add a Thanksgiving costume to the fun! Follow this tutorial for making turkey and pilgrim hats. Adults can join in on this fun too! This is a pretty quick way to burn up some busy body energy, should that need arise. : )



Look up to see if there are any fun runs nearby over Thanksgiving weekend. Our local YMCA is hosting a 5k and a free fun run for younger kids the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Search around for one close to you, or make your own in your neighborhood (and use these fun printable race cards !!).




Check out the following posts from around the web for other ideas!

Thanksgiving activities over at Fantastic Fun and Learning

A hiking trail scavenger hunt—Mommy Hiker

Autumn family fun (jump in the leaves!)—Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies


Whether you live in the woods, near the beach, or in NYC—join us in our efforts to stay active and engaged this Thanksgiving! Enjoy the process together! After-all, these simple moments spent together are the ones we will cherish in our memories. What are your plans for having fun and playing outdoors this year at Thanksgiving?!


 © 2013, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

Amazon link

3 thoughts on “Getting Younger Kids Outside: Thanksgiving edition”

  1. Pingback: Frog Mom

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *