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Planning For the Big Thanksgiving Mighty Feast?

Man Carving TurkeyWorried that your usually angelic younglings will turn into little devils right in front of great aunt Peggy and the rest of your family?  Let’s face it, isn’t it always the times when we’re hoping our kids will be on their best behavior that they really lose it?  For us, holiday gatherings are about catching up with family and friends and food.  However, watching us visit with relatives is a ZERO on our kids’ excite-o-meter and we know what can happen when you get a group of kids together and boredom sets in.  Where’s the volume control knob?

Well, now imagine you might actually enjoy your Thanksgiving *Mighty Feast this year!  Yes, it could happen.  With a little forethought and planning, you can avoid the dreaded major meltdowns and clashes and the even more dreaded glances of pity from helpless family members witnessing the calamity.  So, you ask, “How do we keep the kids from getting bored?”

I know a lot of people suggest having kids help in the kitchen and that’s great – in theory!  Honestly, does this work for more than one or maybe two kids? Sure, kids rinse vegetables and help with a few simple things but most things need to be supervised.  While you’re in the throes of preparing the *Mighty Feast you probably don’t have the time or patience to supervise like you need to.  So, forget that.

Read on for some simple suggestions for fun things we can give kids to do to keep them occupied while we prepare the *Mighty Feast!  Something to keep in mind; just because you have these great activities lined up doesn’t mean straight away start imposing them upon your kids!  Let the energy of the group cue you.  You’ll know when it’s time to step in!

Starting Out Simple… 

Coloring Activities: There are millions of Thanksgiving printouts on the internet.  Here are a couple of links, or do your own search.  Print a selection out ahead of time!  Don’t wait to let each child pick one and print.  Can you see how that creates a bottleneck problem?  Sidestep that mess!  You might want to save the ones you pre-print just in case you need duplicates.  Have your markers, crayons, etc. assembled in advance.

Google:  Thanksgiving Printouts  and  More Thanksgiving Coloring Pages

Letter PlateLetter Wheel:   You’ll make the letter tab plates ahead of time.  To play, have kids walk around the house looking for letters of the alphabet.  Players fold down the tabs on the plate as they find the letters.  Another way to play is to have guests call out letters as they carry on conversation.  Players listen for the letters and fold them down as they hear them.  You can confine the searching to certain areas of the house or outdoors if you like, and with little ones it helps to have assistanceThis game is especially good for new spellers who are learning letter sounds, but older kids can play too.  You can make it more challenging for the older ones by having them write the name of the thing they saw (or who said the letter) on the back of the plate.  Everyone is a winner.  Give a treat or small prize when all tabs are turned. 

Decorate Cookies:  This is always a good way to keep kids occupied and happy!  Pre-bake or buy the cookie shapes a day or so in advance.  You don’t want to have kids waiting while they bake and cool the day of!  Consider pre-decorating a few so you have some examples of what kids can do if some haven’t decorated cookies before.  Have several different colors of frosting and lots of sprinkles and other decorations to lay out.  If you want to minimize mess, you can get frosting in tubes.  Set up the area with an ample sized disposable table cloth so that you can just gather up the mess and toss when they’re done.  Ummm, DON’T do this one right before you serve the *Mighty Feast!!

Family TreeBuild a Family Tree:  I love this idea!  Kids of all ages can participate.  Prepare your trunk and leaves in advance.  Cut out, from paper bags or other paper, a tree trunk and tape it up to a wall. Then cut out leaves large enough to write guests’ names on them.  This would be really fun with a good size group!  If you have kids old enough to write, have them write the names and let littler ones tape the leaves onto the tree.  If your kids are younger, you can, either pre-print the names of your guests and have kids find the guest, then add the leaves once they have matched them to a guest, or have little ones request guests to write their names on the leaves.  Manners check – You might remind children to ask “nicely” and instruct guests to hold out for the “please.”  Have extra leaves to fill up the branches.


Make Place Cards:  This is a fun one and also useful!  There are tons of different designs you can do for place cards, from simple 5x7 cards folded in half with the guests’ names on them, again either preprinting or having older kids or guests write them, to more elaborate designs.  It’s GREAT practice for learners to go to each guest and write their names.  Then decorate.  You should have markers, crayons, paint, glitter, stickers, glue sticks and whatever else you have that would be good for decorating.  Remember to put them on the dinner table!

Here are some place card ideas I liked or use your own imagination or Google!  Chose designs that kids can do either by themselves or with assistance if you have willing volunteers and have all of the supplies pulled together in a tray or box in advance.  When you’re ready, set up with another ample sized disposable table cloth for the quick toss when they’re done.

Place Holders

The Scavenger Hunt:  Scavenger Hunt is just what it sounds like and it’s always a lot of fun. You create lists of items to gather for each player or team, in advance.  They come back to you when they have collected all of the items on their list for a treat or small prize.  The difference between this and a traditional scavenger hunt is that EVERYONE wins the prize once they have gathered all of the items on their list.  Hint: Think simple!  You don’t have to hide things all over your house.  Have the kids collect one square of toilet paper,  a pencil, a paper napkin, a penny; things they can easily find or collect from guests.  You can have all of the children collecting the same things or list different items on each child’s list. TIP: If you decide to have everyone looking for the same items, put them in a random order on each list so that everyone isn’t running to the bathroom for a piece of toilet paper at the same time.

No one knows better than you what kinds of activities will appeal to your kids. Chose activities you think will work for your group. Do go into each activity with a good attitude.  “This is the best thing ever and everyone is going to want to do it!”  You know how smart your kids are.  They’ll know if you think your idea is a dud!  In spite of everything, sometimes kids can surprise us so if one activity isn’t working or they have tired of it, move on.  Don’t be too invested in anything that you can’t let it go.  They might even ask you to do it again later!

Whatever you do, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the company of your family and friends and of course your *Mighty Feast!

Best wishes from Camp Keystone

P.S. Keep an eye out for early enrollment discount information coming in January, 2013!

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