There are lots and lots of really great books about Thanksgiving out there, but one of my favorites is ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey.
One of the reasons I love this book is because it’s based on the classic Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore, and it has always been part of our Christmas tradition to read that poem on Christmas Eve. Pilkey has given us a Thanksgiving tradition with this adorable story about a group of school kids who take the bus on a field trip to a turkey farm and end up saving the day and discombobulating Farmer Mack Nuggett in a big way. It’s cutesy, yeah, but it’s also fun and if your household is vegetarian or vegan, a great way to celebrate that lifestyle while still being grateful for Thanksgiving.
There are so many activity options that can go with this book, but I’ll keep it to a few really good ones.
‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving Activities
One of the best ways to celebrate a book that is a poem is to write a poem of your own. It might be interesting to pick another holiday, say Valentine’s Day, Easter, Hanukkah, or even a birthday, and write a ‘Night Before’ poem about it. In fact, here is a Free Printable to get your littles started.
A really fun way to practice grammar that the Littles enjoy immensely is the old Mad Libs or fill-in-the-blanks stories that get funnier every time you do them. Hopefully you don’t have a boy that thinks body parts and bodily functions are the Funniest Nouns and Verbs Ever, but chances are if you have boys, you have that guy. Let him be ridiculous. He’s still figuring out what verbs, nouns, and adjectives are. Here’s another Free Printable, for your Thanksgiving enjoyment.
Color-changing Cranberry Juice
Cranberries are a staple at Thanksgiving, whether turkey is or not, and you know how I Love baking soda experiments, so let’s do this cool one involving cranberries.
Cranberries contain anthocyanins, which are pigments that change color in reaction to either a base or an acid. With acid, since cranberries are naturally acidic, the berries become redder. With a base, the color changes entirely. It’s pretty cool.
What you need:
- cranberry juice
- baking soda
- lemon juice
- clear glass
- measuring cups and spoons
What you do:
- Pour 1 cup of cranberry juice into the glass
- Add a tablespoon of baking soda and observe the reaction. Baking soda is a base, so (just like with vinegar) the acid in the juice should make it foam up before it starts turning color (it will be a dark purple or blue color).
- Give it about 2 minutes and observe the changes that have occurred.
- Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. This time it won’t foam because you’re adding an acid to an acid.
- Again, give it about 2 minutes and observe changes. The acid in the lemon juice should neutralize the baking soda and turn the juice back to red.
Cool, huh? I’m loving that one.
What you need:
- Clear glass of Sprite
- Handful of dried cranberries
What you do:
- Drop the cranberries into the sprite
- Watch as the carbon dioxide bubbles stick to the rough edges of the cranberries and float them up to the top. Then, when the bubbles pop, the cranberries will sink back to the bottom until enough new bubbles cling to the edges to float them back up.
Can you say fun? Especially for very small littles?
If you really look into the history of Thanksgiving (beyond that first one), there’s some pretty cool facts to know. Here’s another Free Printable for your littles that lists several of those facts.
Coffee Filter Turkey
What would a Thanksgiving book be without a turkey craft? Here’s a cute paper turkey for your littles to save from the axe.
What you need:
- red, yellow, and green food coloring
- 6 coffee filters
- Lit Mama’s turkey body template
- brown, yellow and red construction paper
- googly eyes
- Eye dropper
What you do:
- Lay down newspaper to protect your work surface. This is messy. Which littles love.
- First, mix a few drops of red and yellow food color in a small bowl to make orange.
- Drop a few drops of red into another small bowl, a few drops of yellow into a third, and few drops of green into a fourth.
- Add about a tablespoon of water to each color.
- Cut the coffee filters in half. With the eye dropper, drop the colored water in designs onto the coffee filter halves. You can do equal numbers of each color, or however many you want to of each.
- When the filters are the desired color, allow them to dry.
- In the meantime, cut the turkey body template from the brown construction paper. Cut a triangle-shaped beak from the yellow and a squiggly snood from the red.
- Once the filters have dried, fold each in half to make a cone shape.
- Accordian fold the cone shapes.
- Add glue to the back of the filter at the pointed end.
- Glue to back of brown turkey body in alternating colors
- Once you’ve glued all your coffee filter feathers to your turkey, turn him over. Add his beak, snood, and the googly eyes and you’re done!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins
Okay, so I’m totally making these for breakfast for Thanksgiving, and I may even eat one. (I told you, I don’t diet on Thanksgiving. It is Not Fair to ask it of me.) I love pumpkin and I love the comfort-y flavor of these muffins. Plus, I can make them the day before and I won’t have to worry about cooking breakfast And Thanksgiving feast that day. Also, you can make these standard size or as mini muffins, depending on what your family would enjoy most.
What you need:
For the muffins:
- 1 15-oz can pumpkin
- 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp each baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, & ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
For the filling:
- 8 oz neufchatel or cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
- chopped pecans (optional)
What you do:
Make the Muffins:
- preheat oven to 350
- In a stand mixer, mix pumpkin, oil, and sugar together on low
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each
- Add vanilla
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices
- Slowly add flour mixture to pumpkin, combining thoroughly
Make the filing:
- Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl
Assemble the yummy:
- Grease muffin tins or line with paper cups
- Drop in spoonfuls of pumpkin mixture
- Add smaller spoonfuls of cream cheese on top of pumpkin mixture
- With a skewer, swirl the cream cheese mixture around.
- Bake full-sized muffins for 25-30 minutes and mini muffins for 20-25 minutes
Mmmm. Yummy. Cannot wait.
Okay, so the turkeys in this book are named after characters from old TV shows, like Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, Leave It to Beaver, and Groucho Marx. It would be kind of cool to find these shows at the library or on Netflix and show your littles where Dav Pilkey came up with the names and the kind of television that was available to their parents and grandparents (and maybe even great-grandparents right now. Which does not make me old. No, it doesn’t.)
Also, you can always make a Thankful Tree, such as this one. We make one every year, and throughout the day we draw prompts from a jar such as ‘best memory,’ ‘favorite friend,’ and ‘something I’ve learned,’ and write a response on a leaf of the tree. It’s really fun, and everybody participates. Now I have a beautiful tree to commemorate every Thanksgiving. I think I’ve made about a million prompts. I even made a free printable with prompt suggestions. But you probably have a better idea of what would prompt your family to fill out a leaf, so make sure you come up with some of your own.
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