Thanksgiving! A time when families come together to share a delicious meal, renew connections, and watch some football. We’d like to think that our holiday will be Norman Rockwell perfect, but that requires navigating a bunch of hurdles, especially with kids at the table. Following are some tips for getting kids engaged and communicating that will, hopefully, make your holiday gathering more peaceful and pleasant. (How to overcome adult differences in politics and current events is beyond me — good luck with that!)
While you are busy getting the dinner together, engage the kids in making treats. Already on my list are ice cream cone teepees. I’m skipping the cupcake baked inside the cone because (1) we’ll have enough dessert with pies and (2) I don’t have the time or oven space for baking cone-filled cupcakes. Just the creating and decorating will be enough fun and should keep little ones busy for a while. Here are a couple of examples that I will be combining: Teepees 1, Teepees 2
Another treat we will make: pilgrim hat cookies. Simple, fun, and yummy! (Caution: Contains peanut butter). Click HERE for directions. Both the teepees and pilgrim hats would make fun and easy therapy activities, too, that hit on a number of speech and language goals: following directions, problem-solving, making choices, describing, to name a few.
As long as you are in a creative mood, engage the kids in making decorations for the holiday. Give them a supply of construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, markers & crayons, and let their imaginations run wild. For those who need some guidance, you can print out samples of finished projects and coloring pages, especially good for very little kids. Simply google “kids Thanksgiving crafts” and you’ll have more than enough activities for all ages and ability levels. The photo to the left is from https://iheartcraftythings.com/15-terrific-turkey-crafts-for-kids.html.
Involve the kids in setting the table. When I worked with students in Life Skills classes, we made placemats from large construction paper, on which the students glued paper images of a plate, napkin, utensils, and a cup. This served as a guide for them when they set their place with the real objects. Stamps, stickers, and markers were used to decorate. Again, think of the IEP goals (speech/language and OT) that go into a project like this! Pictured is a premade placemat available from Amazon. It’s more elaborate than the ones we made, but it illustrates the idea.
Have a picky eater? These plates, which my grandson calls his “course,” are fabulous for getting kids to try a little of this, a little of that, as they work toward a reward. Amazon has them in a number of variations. I’ve also seen them in kitchen specialty shops.
Have some shy guys who need some help in conversing with rarely-seen relatives? There are a number of commercially-made conversation cards that introduce topics and questions, but you can make your own. Be creative! Print out the conversation starters from THIS SITE and glue them onto paper feathers or leaves. An excellent post about this very topic for AAC users and children who need help with social skills can be found on PrAACticalAAC.org.
I hope this provides some ideas for therapy lessons and holiday prep activities that will keep the kiddos actively engaged. Here’s one more, a freebie from my TPT store: Fall Vocabulary Cards! Print 2 copies on cardstock, cut apart, and use for Memory and Go Fish games. All of the words contain the /r/ sound and the symbols are great for thematic vocabulary activities, as well! Happy Thanksgiving!!