The little ones at the kids' table during Thanksgiving are only occupied by coloring pages and paper footballs made out of their festive napkins for so long. For your and all the other adult's sakes, it's a great idea to have some free Thanksgiving games for children on hand that kids of all ages can play. On top of running them ragged so they snooze all the way on your long drive home, these games and activities will help your kids learn more about this traditional American holiday and help them have as much fun as everyone else is during the celebration.
Download 2 Free Printable Thanksgiving Games for Kids
Thanksgiving Word Scramble Contest
Older children will appreciate this simple word scramble game that'll get them thinking about the traditions and words associated with Thanksgiving.
- Printed worksheets
- Small prizes
- Gather children around a table. Pass out a worksheet to each child and instruct them to place it face down on the table.
- Give each child a pencil.
- Instruct the children that when you say "Go," they should flip over the worksheet and begin unscrambling the letters into Thanksgiving-themed words.
- Start the timer for two minutes (you may want to give younger children longer) and say "Go."
- When the timer goes off, say "Stop."
- Count how many correct answers each child has. You can hand out a prize to the child with the most correct answers if you'd like.
Pin the Feathers on the Turkey
This game works similarly to pin the tail on the donkey, but children will pin the tail feathers on the turkey.
- Printed turkey image
- Printed and cut out tail feathers (use heavy card stock for more durable feathers)
- Sticky tack or double-sided tape
- Sharpie marker
- Tape the printout of the turkey to the wall. If you're worried you might damage the finish on the wall, use Command strips or sticky tack to secure to the wall.
- Place sticky tack or double-sided tape to the back of feathers.
- Have the children line up, one behind the other, facing the turkey.
- Blindfold the child at the front of the line.
- Write her name on the feather with a sharpie.
- Gently take the child by the shoulders and turn them slowly three times.
- Place the tail feather in their hand and explain that she needs to pin the feathers to the turkey.
- The children who get the feathers the closest to where they need to go win the game.
Active Thanksgiving Games for Children
If you need a game that will help kids burn off some energy before sitting down to the big meal or after eating all those sugary desserts, these active games are perfect.
Ditch the Candy Corn
This game is like a live-action version of the classic card game "Old Maid." Print, color, and cut out one of the free candy corn coloring pages. Punch a hole near the top and tie a ribbon loop through the hole. Hang the candy corn on the back of one of the dining chairs. Throughout the dinner, guests have to try secretly moving the candy corn from their chair to the back of someone else's chair. If you get caught by the person in the chair, you have to put the candy corn back on your chair. At the end of the meal, the person with the candy corn on their chair is the loser and gets stuck with the candy corn.
Have a pumpkin roll in the backyard. Create a starting line and finish line for the race, and give each player a pumpkin that they have to roll along the ground toward the finish line. The first pumpkin to cross the line is the winner. Make the game more challenging by forbidding anyone from using their hands in rolling the pumpkin or making all players stay on their hands and knees while rolling the pumpkin with their faces or shoulders.
Basketball games like "Horse" and "Pig" can easily be turned into an active Thanksgiving game for kids. The first player attempts a shot and if they make it, the next player has to try the same exact shot. Choose a holiday word such as "Turkey" or "Pilgrim" to start. Each player begins the game with the complete word and loses a letter for every missed copycat shot they make. The person with any letters left when everyone else is out of letters is the winner.
Have kids sit in a circle and give each child the name of a Thanksgiving food like "pumpkin pie" or "turkey." Have one child be "it" by standing in the middle of the circle and calling out the name of two Thanksgiving foods. The children with those two names have to run around the circle and trade places before "it" tags them. The child who is tagged will now be "it."
Gobble Gobble Seek
Have one child leave the room while you hide a small object. Now, have the child return to the room. As the child looks for the object, the other children in the room gobble like a turkey, gobbling more quietly as the seeker gets farther from the object and louder as the seeker gets closer to the object.
Have a turkey hunt. Put turkey stickers on about 20 index cards and hide them around the room. Then send children on a hunt to find the turkey cards. If you want to up the ante, you can list a small prize on the back of each card that you'll award to the child that finds that card; alternatively, offer a central prize to the child who finds the most turkey cards.
Thanksgiving Relay Race
Give kids a timed competition, and they're all over it like a new Playstation game released during the school week. To put a festive spin on a classic relay, you can divide your kids into small teams and designate each person on the team with a specific Thanksgiving food item (creamed corn, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, etc.). Two or three hundred feet away, have little trays set up with plastic food that represents each named dish. From there, you can pull one of the teens off of their phones to referee.
Each team lines up away from the trays, and the referee calls out one of the foods on the trays. The kid from each team representing that food has to race forward, grab their item, and bring it back home. The first person to cross the line gets a point, and the team with the most points after all of the foods have been gobbled wins.
Floatin' on a Turkey Feather
Turkeys of a feather float together in this silly game that kids of every age can take a crack at. It's as simple as grabbing a bag of craft feathers from the store and setting a timer. From 30 seconds to 30 minutes, kids will be fighting to keep their feathers in the air longer than their siblings or cousins can. The rules are as easy as it gets - tilt your head back and put a feather on your lips, blow it in the air and try to keep the feather up there using only your breath for longer than everyone else.
More Free Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Games
The internet is home to a vast selection of children's holiday activities, with options for preschoolers and kindergarteners to grown-ups who are still kids at heart (and everything in between!). As you plan out your holiday, consider one of these great games to help the kids stay occupied. Add to the fun by challenging adults and family members to participate!
Dinner Table Buzz Word
Choose a Thanksgiving vocabulary word ahead of time such as "stuffing." Every time someone says the word, guests should raise their hands. The last person to raise their hand each time is out of the round. The last person left in the round wins. The winner can then choose the next buzzword. Whoever chooses the buzzword should explain the rules, then raise their hand after they nonchalantly use the buzzword to help guests guess what the buzzword is.
The game 'Twenty Questions' adapts well to Thanksgiving play. Have kids think of something related to Thanksgiving and then ask yes or no questions to try to guess what it is. This is a good game to play during car trips over the Thanksgiving holiday, especially for younger children. For example, you might ask: "Is it orange?" or "Can you eat it?" If the answers are yes, then you might guess "pumpkin."
Thanksgiving Dinner Memory
Play the following word/memory game. Have children sit in a circle. The first child says, "I'm going to Thanksgiving dinner, and I'm going to bring..." and then says something Thanksgiving-related that starts with the letter "A." The next child says something that starts with the letter "B" and then repeats the letter "A" word. Have children continue through the alphabet until someone misses.
Happy Thanksgiving Wordplay
Another word game will get kids playing with letters. Have children make as many words as they can out of the letters in the words "Happy Thanksgiving." It's helpful to have a worksheet for this with the letters across the top and blank lines under. You can also hand out blank sheets of paper, instruct the children to write the words "Happy Thanksgiving" across the top, and then create words from those letters.
Thanksgiving Word Search Challenge
Kids of all ages are challenged to be the first to complete the easy, medium, or difficult Thanksgiving Word Search. Print out one copy for each child then set a time limit for solving it. At the end of the time, the kid with the most found words is the winner. To make the challenge more fun, place kids on a team with the easy word search and adults on a team with the difficult word search and see which team can finish first.
Test everyone's memory by playing this Thanksgiving memory game. Place about ten to fifteen Thanksgiving-related objects on a tray and cover them with a towel. Uncover the tray and allow the children to look at the tray for two minutes. Now, cover the items on the tray and have the children try to write down as many of the objects as they can remember.
Guess the Thanksgiving Picture
Similar to the popular board game "Pictionary," teams will have to draw things commonly associated with Thanksgiving and get their partner to guess the item in this group game. Grab some index cards and write a Thanksgiving-related item on each one such as turkey, pumpkin pie, stuffing, and dinner. Split everyone into pairs so you have teams of two. On their turn, one player from each team picks a card without looking at it and then has 60 seconds to draw that item. If their teammate guesses correctly before time is up, the team gets a point. Once all the cards have been used, the team with the most points wins.
Finger Painting Turkeys
Since the adults' hands will be wrists deep in delicious ingredients, the kids might as well get their hands a little messy too. At the kids' table, you can set up a finger painting station with a huge roll of craft paper, cut out and taped in front of each kid, and bowls of fabric-safe finger paint. For older kids, you can leave the designs up to them, but to keep the younger one's attention on their paper, you can print off - or draw if you've got a knack for drawing - the outline of a turkey for them to color in themselves.
Perfect for keeping a couple of kids quiet, put a slight spin on the classic tic-tac-toe game by having your kids draw turkeys and pumpkins in the place of Xs and Os. The attention they give to getting the right details onto each spot they mark will be a blessed few extra minutes to clean up.
Gratefulness Word Association
This word association game is better suited for older kids than toddlers, but it can be a great lesson in thinking about the things they're grateful for without being pressured by the entire dinner table to come up with an original idea. Like any other alphabet word association game, the first kid says one word starting with the letter 'A,' the second repeats that word and then adds a word starting with the letter 'B,' until someone misses one of the words that's already been said. The category for this Thanksgiving edition is gratefulness, where everyone has to say something they're grateful for and remember what others are grateful for, too.
Building Thanksgiving Memories
With these fun Thanksgiving activities, it's a snap to make the holiday fun for the youngest family members. These games provide a great way to keep your kids active and engaged this Thanksgiving season. If you'll have a house full of children at your celebration, these games will build memories that'll last a lifetime, and keep them out of your hair for long enough to not burn any of your delicious dishes.