Happy Thanksgiving (+ 5 fun fall activities for kids!)

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates, from all of us at Brookes! We’re grateful for all the parents, professionals, and self-advocates who work hard all year round to ensure that every child can reach their full potential.

If you’re coming together with family and friends this week to share good times, here are five fun activities to try with the young children in your life (adapted from the ASQ-3 Learning Activities and the ASQ:SE-2 Learning Activities). Wishing you safe, happy, and fun autumn days together!

Make a gratitude book honoring family and friends. This skill-boosting activity can be a sweet way to help children express gratitude for family members and friends this fall. Help a child make their own book of all the special people in their life. Print out photos of family members and friends, let the child arrange and glue them onto sturdy sheets of paper, and help them staple the pages together or tie them with ribbon. Give them supplies they can use to decorate the book: glitter pens, sequins, stickers, bits of shiny paper, pictures cut from old greeting cards and magazines. When the book is done, look at it together and talk about the special people in the photos and why you’re thankful for them. Not only will this book be a cherished memento, this project will also help children strengthen fine motor, communication, social-emotional, and problem-solving skills.

Bake pretzel letters together. Baking edible letters with a child will fill your home with extra warmth and help them with motor, problem-solving, and early literacy skills. Wash your hands together first, and then cut pizza dough into strips (or make your own dough with a recipe like this one). Help the child form letters with the dough, and show them how to brush the letters with a beaten egg, sprinkle them with salt, and bake until golden brown. Review the sounds that each letter makes as you form the shapes. Eat up your ABCs together! (To help reinforce early math skills, you can also make pretzel numbers.)

Create an autumn-themed sculpture or table centerpiece. Gather materials together from outside (twigs and branches, acorns, pine cones, pretty stones) and around your home (newspaper, Popsicle sticks, small boxes, plastic containers, bits of ribbon, and fabric). For fine-motor practice, give children masking tape, pipe cleaners, duct tape, and some glue for joining materials together. Put the materials in a place where children can work on their special creation for a few days and let the sculpture dry. When it’s done, proudly display it on the table, your mantel, or another prominent location in your home.

Have outside fun with fall leaves. To sharpen fine and gross motor skills, see how many fun activities you can do with the leaves in your backyard or around your building. Head outside with children to rake leaves together, and jump in or leap over the piles. See how many leaves you can catch as they fall. Collect and sort leaves of different colors, sizes, and shapes.

Read an autumn-themed book together. On chilly fall evenings, snuggle up for some shared reading—one of the single most important activities you can do with a young child. Not only is it a wonderful way to bond and relax together, it also strengthens a child’s communication and language skills and sets the stage for early literacy development. Choose some autumn-themed books and engage the child while you read: ask them what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story, or have the child act out the story with you and pretend to be different characters. (For more tips on making the most of shared reading, check out this post.)

P.S. Don’t forget that activities should be supervised at all times by an adult. Any material, food, or toy given to a young child should be reviewed for safety.

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