Celebrating Thanksgiving in the Childcare Center
  • author

    Emily Adams

  • Published on

    October 10, 2023

  • Reading time

    5 minute read

Celebrating Thanksgiving in your Childcare Center

Hey, fellow caregivers! Thanksgiving is more than just turkey and stuffing, especially in Canada. Have you ever thought of integrating this festive occasion into your childcare's activities? Let’s dive deep into the significance of Thanksgiving, and explore some fun, educational, and inclusive ways to celebrate.


The Importance of Thanksgiving in Canada

Thanksgiving is a cherished holiday in Canada, and it's a wonderful opportunity to bring the spirit of gratitude, togetherness, and cultural appreciation to your childcare center. As a Canadian expert in early childhood education and development, I'm excited to guide you through creating a memorable Thanksgiving celebration that enriches the lives of the children in your care. Let's dive into the details of planning and executing a delightful Thanksgiving celebration at your childcare.

Historical significance

Did you know that the very first Thanksgiving in North America was celebrated in Canada? Yep, that's right! Long before the Pilgrims landed in the U.S., Sir Martin Frobisher held a ceremony in 1578 to give thanks for surviving his journey from England. It’s a rich history worth sharing with the little ones!

Lessons in gratitude

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful. By introducing the concept of gratitude early on, we're planting seeds for emotionally resilient and positive kids. After all, who doesn’t cherish a thank you note scribbled by tiny hands?


The Relevance of Thanksgiving in Early Childhood Education

Teaching empathy and understanding

Through Thanksgiving tales, we can foster empathy. Stories of sharing and togetherness can help kids understand the importance of community. Imagine linking the story of the First Nations helping the settlers to sharing toys? Quite a metaphor, eh?

Developing social skills

Group activities centered around Thanksgiving can encourage kids to work together, share, and communicate. How about a fun game of “Pass the Pumpkin” to the tune of Thanksgiving songs?


Planning the Thanksgiving Celebration

Setting a Date

Before you embark on your Thanksgiving journey, it's essential to pick an appropriate date for your celebration. In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October. Ensure that you choose a day close to this date, allowing parents and families to participate without scheduling conflicts.

Parent Involvement

Involving parents in your childcare's Thanksgiving celebration can create a sense of community and cooperation. Encourage parents to contribute by sharing family traditions, recipes, or even volunteering their time to assist with activities.

Menu Planning

A significant part of Thanksgiving is the delicious feast. Plan a kid-friendly Canadian Thanksgiving menu that includes classics like roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Don't forget to consider dietary restrictions and allergies, and offer alternatives for children with specific needs.

Decorations and Crafts

Engage the children in creative Thanksgiving-themed activities. Craft decorations like paper turkeys, fall leaf garlands, and gratitude journals. These hands-on projects not only enhance fine motor skills but also teach the value of creativity and teamwork.

Storytelling and History

Educate the children about the origins and history of Thanksgiving in an age-appropriate manner. Share stories about the early settlers and Indigenous peoples, emphasizing themes of gratitude, sharing, and community.


Thanksgiving Activities for Children

Craft activities for kids

From handprint turkeys to paper feathered headbands, the possibilities are endless! Plus, it’s a wonderful way to develop their fine motor skills.

Thanksgiving storytelling sessions

Gather around, kids! Whether it's about the harvest or the history, captivating tales can engage those active imaginations.

Incorporating indigenous perspectives

Given the significance of the First Nations in the Thanksgiving story, why not invite local indigenous elders to share tales and traditions?

Gratitude Circle

Start your Thanksgiving celebration with a gratitude circle. Encourage each child to express what they are thankful for, fostering a sense of appreciation and mindfulness.

Thanksgiving Parade

Organize a mini-Thanksgiving parade within your childcare center. Children can create floats or dress up as Thanksgiving-themed characters. It's a fun way to stimulate imagination and build teamwork.

Fall Nature Walk

Connect with the season by taking the children on a nature walk to observe the changing leaves and fall colors. Encourage discussions about the beauty of nature and the importance of taking care of our environment.

Turkey Art Projects

Engage the kids in educational and fun turkey-themed art projects. They can create handprint turkeys, turkey masks, or even paint turkey feathers. These activities promote creativity and fine motor skills development.

Cooking Together

Cooking is an excellent way to teach kids about food, culture, and cooperation. Prepare a simple Thanksgiving dish together, like pumpkin muffins or apple crisps. Let the children take part in measuring, mixing, and tasting.

Hosting a mini feast

No Thanksgiving is complete without a feast! Consider a potluck style where kids can bring in a dish from home to share.


Safety and Inclusivity During Celebrations

Dietary restrictions and considerations

Always remember, some kiddos might have allergies. Check with parents before planning the menu. Vegan stuffing, anyone?

Sensitivity towards diverse backgrounds

Thanksgiving might be foreign to some families. Always ensure celebrations are inclusive and educational rather than prescriptive.


Nurturing Inclusivity and Diversity

Cultural Sensitivity

While celebrating Thanksgiving, it's vital to be sensitive to the diverse backgrounds of the children in your childcare. Respect cultural differences and ensure that your celebration is inclusive and welcoming to all.

Exploring Different Traditions

Use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to explore various cultural traditions related to gratitude and harvest festivals. Learn about customs from around the world and encourage children to appreciate the rich tapestry of human cultures.

Multilingual Storytime

Celebrate diversity by having a multilingual storytime. Share Thanksgiving stories in different languages spoken by the children in your childcare. It's a beautiful way to celebrate linguistic diversity and unity.


Involving Parents and Guardians

Sharing traditions from home

Encourage parents to share their unique Thanksgiving traditions. Maybe there’s a special dish or a family song?

Volunteer opportunities

A small classroom Thanksgiving event can be a lot to handle alone. Why not ask parents to lend a helping hand? Or even share a family recipe?



Thanksgiving is not just a holiday; it’s an opportunity. An opportunity to educate, to bond, and to instill values of gratitude, empathy, and community. So, this season, let’s give our kiddos a Thanksgiving to remember!

Celebrating Thanksgiving in your childcare center is not only an exciting event but also a chance to instill values of gratitude, togetherness, and cultural appreciation in young hearts. By planning thoughtfully, involving parents, and creating engaging activities, you can create lasting memories for the children in your care.

Now, go ahead and make this Thanksgiving celebration one to remember, where every child feels valued and included, and the spirit of thankfulness permeates your childcare center.



  1. What is the significance of celebrating Thanksgiving in a childcare center?
    Celebrating Thanksgiving in a childcare center holds significant educational and emotional value. It teaches young children important life lessons, such as gratitude, sharing, and the value of community. It also helps them connect with Canadian cultural traditions and fosters a sense of belonging and togetherness within the daycare community.

  2. How can I involve parents in our childcare's Thanksgiving celebration?
    Involving parents in the Thanksgiving celebration is a wonderful way to create a sense of unity between the childcare and families. You can encourage parental participation by inviting them to share their family Thanksgiving traditions, recipes, or cultural aspects related to the holiday. Additionally, you can ask parents to volunteer their time or contribute to the festivities, such as helping with decorations, storytelling, or food preparation.

  3. What are some multicultural Thanksgiving activities for children? 
    Multicultural Thanksgiving activities can be a great way to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in your childcare center. You can explore various cultural traditions related to gratitude and harvest festivals from around the world. For example, you can incorporate elements from different cultures into your crafts, storytime, or menu. This helps children appreciate the rich tapestry of human cultures and traditions.

  4. Are there any traditional Indigenous elements we can incorporate into our celebration? 
    Absolutely, incorporating traditional Indigenous elements into your Thanksgiving celebration is a respectful way to acknowledge the Indigenous peoples of Canada and their contributions to the harvest season. You can include activities like sharing Indigenous stories, learning about traditional foods, or inviting Indigenous guests to share their knowledge and culture. Ensure that you approach these elements with cultural sensitivity and respect.

  5. How can I ensure a safe and allergy-friendly Thanksgiving menu for the kids? 
    Ensuring a safe and allergy-friendly Thanksgiving menu is crucial, as children may have various dietary restrictions or allergies. First, communicate with parents to identify any specific dietary needs or allergies among the children. Plan your menu accordingly, offering alternatives for common allergens such as nuts or dairy. Clearly label all dishes with potential allergens, and be vigilant about cross-contamination in the kitchen. Additionally, consider providing a list of ingredients for parents to review for peace of mind. Safety and inclusivity should be your top priorities when planning the menu.