4 Little Indians

$1 Native American wooden picture frames from Jo-Ann.  I can’t wait to take these out every year!

They make great Thanksgiving place settings and a fun family or classroom activity.  We used feathers, glitter glue, colored Sharpies, sequins and adhesive gems.

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Fancy Turkeys

Here’s an artsy craft idea that I considered for a November Art Parent lesson in kindergarten.  I love the colorful results and my kids, ages 5 and 7, had fun trying it out.

Steps for drawing a close-up view of a turkey:
1. Use a cardboard template (ours was 4″ in diameter) to draw a circle in the middle of the paper with a black Sharpie.
2. Starting on the circle, add a triangle underneath for the beak.
3. Put your marker where the triangle and circle intersect, and draw a straight line to the bottom of the page.  Repeat with the other side for a neck.
4. Add a gobble.
5-Yr-Old's Turkey DrawingMy son added wavy lines around the turkey’s neck and head, colored it all in and announced that his art was complete.  No gobbler, but I agree with him – I love it.

Fancy Turkey by 7-yr-oldMy daughter spread glue outside of the turkey’s neck and head and attached feathers, big wiggle eyes and a few rhinestones.

We used both 9×12 and 12×18 paper – just depends on how big you want the turkeys to be, and how many feathers ($$ at local craft stores) you want to go through.  If you have time, order online at Discount School Supply.  And glue sticks won’t cut it – I like Aleene’s Tacky Glue, but not the gold bottle it comes in, so I ordered a gallon.  (I splurge on art supplies instead of shoes!)

For preschoolers, I’d draw the head, neck and gobble outline myself and make copies for the kids.  And then let them go to town with markers (a big deal at age 4), feathers and these other bells and whistles.

Adhesive Gems from Oriental Trading40mm Wiggle Eyes from MichaelsGoo Spreaders

Fancy Nancy Turkeys, perhaps?  You could read Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet

Ok, moving on.

Thanksgiving Party – 1st Grade

These Turkey Centers took place in a first-grade classroom where the children sit at round tables.  The kids took their usual seats, did the activity at that table first, and then moved to other tables as spots opened up.  This set-up has been requested now by two wonderful, experienced teachers and it works really well.

Turkey Sun Catchers
With Sharpie markers, Oriental Trading’s Jumbo Turkey Sun Catchers are fantastic!  My youngest Thanksgiving houseguests – ages 4-7 – loved them, too.

I tried all kinds of gel paint at home with my own kids first, but opted for Sharpies in class, as one of the reviewers on OT suggested.  Kids this age love Sharpies (who could blame them?) and they’re low maintenance, which is always good for a class party.  I also brought along suction cup hangers so they could be hung up for instant gratification.

Chopsticks Pass-Along
This activity from Family Fun was a big hit.  We had a few parent helpers at the party and the mom whom I asked to run this table had fun with it and changed things up as needed.

We put a cranberry, a candy corn, an acorn, a small gourd (fake), and a miniature ear of Indian corn (from the grocery store) in each of 2 fancy crystal cracker dishes.  I had some Thanksgiving-themed melanime plates from Pottery Barn Kids that I set at each seat at a table.  To start, we told two of the children to pick up one thing at a time from the crystal dish and pass it to their neighbor’s plate.  The kids raced, changed directions, passed things smallest to biggest and biggest to smallest and tried it with both the rubberbanded chopsticks and loose chopsticks (I’d left a few pair unconnected).

For instructions on how to attach the chopsticks together, click here.  A local Japanese restaurant gave the chopsticks to me for free.

After playing this game, the kids picked up a regular-sized Tootsie Roll Pop (Dum Dums were too small) in a felt Turkey Lollipop Cover - inexpensive and good quality.

Turkey Headbands
The teacher provided a turkey headband for the children to make, similar to this one.  I’d also orderd a foam headband kit from Oriental Trading that we ended up using at a Girl Scouts Daisy meeting instead.  I’m not a fan of the foam kits, but if you are, these are cute ones. 

The parent helpers and teacher wore drumstick headbands, which I’d ordered for our own Thanksgiving celebration at home.

Pin the Pilgrim Hat on the Turkey
When I spotted this paper game in Target’s Dollar section, I snatched it up and used the self-serve laminator at FedEx Office.  I brought my own orange bandana and the kids could choose whether to be blindfolded or not.  Every one received a “Happy Thanksgiving” pencil for playing.

Turkey Cookie Decorating
This popular turkey cookie from Pillsbury is perfect as a party treat or decorating activity.  None of the moms wanted to bake so we used the round sugar cookies from the Publix bakery.  The children put them in Ziploc bags to take home.

Parents brought in Oreo Turkeys, fruit and cheese for the kids to eat at the party.

Loot Bags
Michaels has sturdy kraft bags that stand up on their own, even when empty  - I love to personalize them and use them for goody bags.  Everything fit – the suncatcher, the cookie, pencil and lollipop.

End-of-Year Preschool Party

Here’s a fun idea for a picnic-themed party if your child’s class can get outside on their last day of school.  (Children will get wet, though, so make sure it’s ok with the teachers first.)

Spray Bottles
At ages 3 and 4, my own two children could amuse themselves for hours with spray bottles of water out in our backyard.  So I bought 16 spray bottles at Dollar Tree and wrote my daughter’s and her classmates’ names on them with Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Pens.  Another mom and I collected the foam stickers and adhesive jewels we already had so the kids could decorate their own bottles.

Bug Spray
I also picked up a cheap white bedsheet and showed my own kids how to draw simple bug shapes.  Using Washable Crayola Markers, we drew colorful bugs all over the sheet.  I wrote “Miss Jones’ and Miss Smith’s Class” at the top, and each child’s name somewhere on the sheet.  We hung the sheet from a fence with cable-ties, close to where the children would have their picnic.

Beach Balls
The kids decorated beach balls with Sharpie markers.  The hardest part was blowing up the balls beforehand.

A few days earlier I’d mixed up homemade bubble solution (6 parts water, 2 parts Dawn Ultra, 3/4 part corn syrup), and I lugged it in a big tub from Target along with giant bubble wands from Learning Express to the party.

After the children ate, they decorated their water bottles, sprayed the sheet (to get rid of the bugs and say goodbye to their preschool class) and played with the beach balls and bubbles.

Made by Kids

A couple of years ago, my son’s preschool teacher assembled work he’d done into a book for him to bring home.  For the cover, she’d had him write his name on construction paper, using a different color for each letter, and then she cut out the letters and glued them onto a piece of cardstock.  It was adorable.

As a Room Parent, I’ve used this technique several times now, as a cover for a collection of notes, cards or pictures from children to their teacher.

At the end of the school year, the parents of the children in my daughter’s kindergarten class elected to give the teacher individual gifts.  So I asked each child to fill out a questionnaire (“I love my teacher because…” and “My advice for the new kindergarteners is…”) and bound them together.  The book gave the children something to present to their teacher as a class at the year-end party.

I especially like it for Thanksgiving, after children have typically spent all of November talking in their classrooms about what they’re thankful for.  Yet it’s unusual for teachers to be honored at this time.

Charmingly imperfect.

And it says – this is from your students, not their parents.