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Thanksgiving Math Skills Activities

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, we wanted to compile a list of holiday-related activities that offer the chance for children to build their skills in various areas, including math.

Thanksgiving Estimation Jars and Paper Tissue Turkeys are two exercises in which children can explore mathematical concepts, such as measurement and geometry. These exercises are ideal for children ages four and up. 

Thanksgiving Estimation Jars

Credit: PBS Kids

Turkey Estimaton JarsSupplies You Will Need:

  • Brown, orange and red foam
  • Googly eyes
  • Child-safe scissors
  • Three different sized clear jars
  • Double stick tape
  • Pom-poms
  • A sheet of paper and pencil or a little chalkboard and chalk

How to Set it Up:

  • First, cut out a turkey head, gobbler and beak from the foam.
  • Using the double stick tape, put the pieces together and add a googly eye.
  • Fill the jars with the pom-poms.
  • Next, set up a sheet of paper or chalkboard to write the students' estimation for how many pom-poms are in the jar. Ask all of your students for their approximations and record the results.

How to Use the Jars:

  • Estimate the number of pom-poms in each jar and write it down.
  • Then, remove the pom-poms from the jar and count them. Through counting, children get to see how close their estimations were, which helps build their measurement skills.
  • Record the results, and compare them to students' original approximations.

Tissue Paper Turkeys

Credit: PBS Kids

Tissue Paper TurkeyTissue Paper Turkeys are another Thanksgiving-related activity your class can take part in. Tissue paper is a great art material for students as it can easily be torn or cut. It is also highly versatile, as it can be used to make collages as well as to explore different textures. Finally, it offers an excellent geometry lesson—children get to practice cutting different shapes.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Non-colorfast tissue paper in bright fall colors, such as orange and red
  • Two or three pieces of white card stock paper
  • One piece of fall-colored card stock paper
  • Markers
  • Child-safe scissors
  • Waxed paper
  • Clear-drying school glue
  • Paper towels
  • Water

Start with Some Math:

  • Draw the shapes onto the white card stock. Explain to your students that they will need to draw a circle for the head, an oval for the body and six or seven smaller ovals for the feathers. You can assist children with drawing these shapes.
  • Have children cut out the shapes.

Set up the Science Exploration:

  • Tear or cut the tissue into quarter-sized pieces. Students have the option of making them into geometric shapes and then arranging the tissue on the card stock shapes.
  • Ask students for their predictions as to what will happen when they apply drops of water to the tissue. Will the water sit there, or will it soak through the tissue paper?
  • Slowly lift the paper, as students will see that some of the color has come off of the tissue to the card stock. Ask the children about what they think is happening. Continue to apply water to all of the tissue, and then soak a paper towel with water, blotting the tissue with it.
  • Let the tissue sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • Peel the tissue off of the paper. Don't worry if some of it sticks—that will add texture. Ask students whether the tissue is as bright or even the same color as it was when you began the activity. In addition, ask children where the color went—did it go to the white paper?

Put It All Together:

  • Once all of the tissue paper print shapes have dried, you can assemble the turkeys!
  • Glue the different shapes in place to form a turkey. You can guide children in assembling the animal if they need assistance.
  • Next, draw on eyes or add two googly eyes.

Want to learn more awesome activities for your classroom? Check out ProSolutions Training's online child care courses. More than 100 course training hours available.

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