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20 Fun Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids to Keep Them Busy

These easy Thanksgiving crafts for kids are just the thing to keep your littlest guests occupied ahead of your family's feast.

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Felt turkey laying flat on a tan background with copy spaceSueST/Shutterstock

Getting crafty on the big day

Thanksgiving is all about family, football, food…and waiting. Lots of it. Even adults can get antsy waiting around for the turkey, and, well, kids aren’t known for their patience. Plus, with all of the grown-up talk and fancy outfits, it can be a recipe for kiddie disaster. Thankfully, there’s a solution: these simple Thanksgiving crafts for kids that will keep them entertained, occupied, and happy. So, Thanksgiving hosts take note—and make sure the little turkeys at your holiday celebration are as well taken care of as the older ones. And while you’re planning the day’s activities, consider including one (or more) of these 9 meaningful Thanksgiving traditions that everyone will love.

Cute Thanksgiving turkey pretzel sticks with candy corn, overhead scene on old woodJeniFoto/Shutterstock

Turkey pretzel sticks

What’s better than a yummy Thanksgiving treat that the kids can make but you can all share? For these Thanksgiving crafts, dip pretzel rods in melted chocolate or peanut butter. Use candy eyeballs for the eyes and candy corn for the feathers and nose. These darling little turkeys will make fun after-dinner treats for kids and adults, and the little ones will feel proud to be contributing to the celebration. What else should you serve for dessert? Try one of these 25 delicious apple pie recipes for your Thanksgiving feast.

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Sweet child, boy, applying leaves using glue while doing arts and crafts in school, autumn timeTomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock

Leaf mosaic

As far as Thanksgiving crafts for kids go, this one might just take the cake. This activity will get the kids outside as they hunt for colorful leaves. Encourage them to look for leaves in a fun assortment of sizes, colors, and textures. Once they’ve gathered their materials, give the kids glue and a large sheet of paper—and let them have at it! There’s no right or wrong way to create a leaf mosaic. Once their creations are dry, you can use them as temporary placemats on the kiddie table. Make the placements last a bit longer by laminating them with laminating paper. Just make sure you have the supplies well ahead of time, and follow this official Thanksgiving timeline to make sure you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

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Cute little 5-6 years old girl coloring a natural cone fir to create a flower, set of brushes, paints, natural autumn materials on a table, create fun and easy with children, diy for kindergartenMaria Symchych/Shutterstock

Pine-cone flowers

The best Thanksgiving crafts for kids are the ones that serve a dual purpose: This one will keep the kids busy and also produce a pretty centerpiece. Plus, it’s eco-friendly. Pine cones are a fun, natural crafting medium that can be used for a variety of projects. For this one, make sure that your pine cones are clean and dry before use. The bottom of the pine cone will be the flower, so you will need to cut off all the pieces from the top of the pine cone about halfway down. (Adults will need to help littles with the cutting.) Give the kiddos acrylic paint to color the little flowers any shades they like. Once dried, place the pine-cone flowers into a shallow bowl and use it as a festive centerpiece. These funny Turkey Day helpline calls will brighten up your holiday. 

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Small creatures made of chestnuts and acorns. Autumnal decorationKrzycho/Shutterstock

Nut animals

Just ask the squirrels: Autumn is the best time for forage in the yard for nuts! Acorns, in particular, are perfect for creating mini animals. If you don’t have access to nuts in the yard, no worries. In the fall, grocery stores are stocked with nuts of all shapes and sizes. Just stick with the semi-soft-shelled varieties, like chestnuts, so the kids can easily pierce the shells with toothpicks. If you are up to your knees in these seasonal nuts, check out 8 more things you can make with all of those acorns.

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paper leaf artcourtesy

Paper leaves

Maggy at Red Ted Art has created many Thanksgiving crafts for kids. One favorite? These paper leaves that are perfect for Thanksgiving and fall. Made with a square piece of paper of any type, these leaves are a cinch to make and can even be used to create colorful leaf garlands. If you’re in a DIY state of mind, check out these 26 Thanksgiving place cards you’ll want on your table.

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DIY decorations for Thanksgiving day.Magdalena Kucova/Shutterstock

Paper-roll Pilgrims and Indians

Upcycled crafts are great activities for kids since they teach them not to be wasteful and to be kind to the environment. Use empty paper towels or toilet paper rolls to make this adorable little Pilgrim and Indian set. The entire craft uses just craft paper, scissors, glue, and markers. Create an entire village and re-create the first Thanksgiving on your dinner table.

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turkey book markcourtesy

Turkey bookmark

This sweet little turkey is the perfect craft for your little bookworms to keep their reading spots safe and secure. Maggy of Red Ted Art creates her turkey book-corner bookmark entirely out of paper. And who knows—with a craft this cute, you just may turn non-readers into book fans. Another way to keep the kids busy on the big day? Telling them about these 16 mind-blowing facts about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade while you watch it on TV.

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Thanksgiving turkey made of pine cone and autumn leaves. Holiday crafts decorationZinaidaSopina/Shutterstock

Pine-cone turkey

Looking for an activity that will get the kids outside—and off their electronics? These pine-cone turkeys are the perfect Thanksgiving crafts for kids since they’re easy to create with foraged items from your yard. Search for medium to large pine cones and large, colorful leaves. Use paper to create the turkey’s head and feet. Secure all the pieces onto the pine cone with school glue. The pine-cone turkeys will look adorable lining your mantle, entry table, or as an impromptu table runner on the dinner table. Need more centerpiece inspiration? Try one of these 10 easy crafts to brighten any Thanksgiving table.

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Girl paints patterns autumn leaf. Gouache, brush and various autumn leaves on a blue wooden table. Children's art project. Colorful Hand-painted on dry autumn leaves13Smile/Shutterstock

Leaf painting

Leaves make wonderful natural palettes for painting—and this craft produces a particularly gorgeous effect. First, find large leaves that have recently fallen and are not too brittle. Then apply a base coat of acrylic paint onto the leaves and let it dry. The kids can paint abstract designs on the leaves with paint pens, gel pens, or with a contrasting color of acrylic paint. Apply a layer of decoupage on the top of the finished artwork to help preserve the artwork. If these crafts aren’t enough to keep the kids busy, try 10 of the best Thanksgiving games for kids.

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Courtesy I Heart Crafty Things

Turkey ring

Let your child show off some Thanksgiving style by helping make this adorable turkey ring. Use it as a finger puppet or just a fashion statement. Find out how to make one at I Heart Crafty Things.

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Courtesy Cutesy Crafts

Pony bead corn

Grab some autumnal pony beads and pipe cleaners for this festive maize craft. Get the full directions from Think Crafts! Here’s how to avoid the mistakes you’ll probably make this Thanksgiving.

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Courtesy I Heart Crafty Things

Standing turkey

This charming turkey is cute enough to be a centerpiece at your Thanksgiving feast. The best part? You can finally use up any scraps of leftover ribbon you have lying around. Visit I Heart Crafty Things to find the instructions.

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Courtesy The Moffatt Girls

Thankful pumpkin

Thanksgiving crafts for kids like this one can do more than just occupy them for a while. Help your children remember the heart behind the holiday by creating this appreciation pumpkin. You and your kids will have a great time counting your blessings, and you can keep it for years to come. Find out how to make one from The Moffatt Girls. By the way, this is what happens when little kids learn the importance of giving.

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Courtesy The Simple Parent

Paper roll turkey

Transform an old toilet paper roll into this colorful turkey, complete with rainbow plumage. Get the full how-to from The Simple Parent. Here are more genius uses for clothespins you haven’t tried.

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Courtesy Lil' Luna

Pilgrim hat crayon cup

Thanksgiving crafts for kids like this one can be both fun, and useful. Prep this fun pilgrim hat cup with your kids before the big day, then let them stash their crayons there while working on Thanksgiving coloring and activity books. Find out how to make one at Lil’ Luna.

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Courtesy The Simple Parent

Cereal corn craft

This cob gives a new definition to corn-based cereal. Pick out the fall-colored O’s from your breakfast bowl, and turn them into this fun craft. Learn how from The Simple Parent. You can do a craft like this no matter where you’re celebrating Thanksgiving. If you’re away from home this year, check out these 7 other ways to make celebrating Thanksgiving overseas truly special.

Courtesy Made Everyday

Harvest crowns

Skip the feather headbands, and create these festive fall crowns for this year’s Thanksgiving feast. Use fabric leaves if you want it to last the season, or make an afternoon of gathering fallen leaves with your kids. Head over to Made Everyday for the directions.

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Courtesy Fun A Day

Turkey footprints

Thanksgiving crafts for kids don’t have to be complicated. Here’s a new kind of turkey trot. Make your turkey foot stamps waddle down the page, or stamp them randomly for a fun pattern. Visit Fun-a-Day to find out more. Happy, healthy kids are certainly a reason to give thanks. Here are 50 more reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving.

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Courtesy The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Salt dough leaves

Before you get too busy in the kitchen, start a salt dough recipe. While you’re rolling out the pie crust, your kids will love mashing up their own dough with festive leaf stamps. Get more information from The Life of Jennifer Dawn.

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Courtesy Cross Country cafe

K-Cup pilgrim hats

Hooked on coffee? Clean out those extra K-Cup pods and turn them into these festive pilgrim hats. Get the full instructions for these adorable thanksgiving crafts from Cross Country Café. Now that you’ve got the kid thing figured out, don’t miss these 16 other tricks for keeping your sanity if you’re hosting Thanksgiving.

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Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.
Debbie Wolfe
Debbie Wolfe is an author and freelance writer specializing in home, garden, DIY, and lifestyle topics. She covers lifestyle, culture, and craft content for Reader's Digest and contributes regularly to HGTV, The Home Depot, Walmart, Family Handyman, Realtor, Bob Vila, and more. Her book, Do-It-Yourself Garden Projects and Crafts (Skyhorse Publishing), features a variety of practical DIY projects to beautify your garden and home. Debbie holds a degree in Creative Writing and Earth Science from Northland College.