HOW TO: make Thanksgiving a learning opportunity

Thanksgiving is a time when the whole family gathers together to appreciate good food, watch parades and football and be thankful for one another. It’s also an opportunity to support learning.

It can be tricky to figure out how to turn a busy holiday into a learning experience, so our experts from Success By 6 and Target Graduation brainstormed a few simple activities:


  1. Cooking teaches math & science skills

Children can help in the kitchen in a variety of ways that help them learn.

You can introduce young children to measurement by getting their help measuring out wet and dry ingredients. For children through middle-school-age, this can be a good time to practice conversions and fractions, particularly when doubling or halving a recipe.

Cooking can also support nonfiction reading skills when children study the cookbook, and learning about nutrition and the chemical processes involved in cooking can further science skills.

Read more about cooking with children.


  1. Making place cards supports language development

If you’re having your whole family over for Thanksgiving, children can help make place cards as a fun crafting activity.

At its most basic, making place cards helps children practice reading and writing, which is important for young children.

This activity can range from simply writing names on existing place cards to taking on a more ambitious craft project, which would support fine motor skill development.

Enjoy some child-appropriate place card inspiration.


  1. Expressing gratitude supports social-emotional development

Saying what you’re thankful for is a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition, and a great opportunity to help children learn.

“Being Thankful” can serve as a broader discussion topic to foster dialogue between parents and children:

    • What does it mean to be thankful for something?
    • What kinds of things are you thankful for?
    • What other words do we use to say that we’re thankful for something?

You can also take gratitude away from the dining room table and out into the world by encouraging kids to write cards or letters saying thank you to those in their life. This can promote social and emotional development as well as writing skills.


Did we miss anything? What are some of YOUR favorite ways to engage children in learning during the holidays?

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