Bring cultural diversity and international flavor to your Thanksgiving with these five easy kid crafts. The best part? They can all be made with materials you probably already have. Plus, they involve minimal mess and are simple enough for most kids to complete on their own. (You can also check out our previous posts for ways to celebrate a bilingual Thanksgiving, at home or in the classroom.)
Thanksgiving: Here and Around the World
The first Thanksgiving was an occasion for people to gather together and celebrate a good harvest. Most cultures around the world have harvest celebrations, though not always in November. (Abraham Lincoln was actually the first US president to propose an official Thanksgiving holiday in our country. You can read more about Thanksgiving history here.) Harvest celebrations coincide with a country’s seasons and the kind of crop they are harvesting.
Thanksgiving Crafts Inspired By Multicultural Traditions
1. India: Pongal – Kolam Chalk Drawings
Photo by Benedict via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Vishnu.116 via Wikimedia Commons
Pongal, the harvest festival of Southern India, is celebrated in January or February. It celebrates the successful harvest of rice, sugar cane and tumeric. Kolam drawings are traditionally symmetrical and placed in front of doors. These drawings are believed to bring happiness and prosperity. For this activity, you just need some colored chalk and clear weather outside.
The festival of Sukkot, celebrated in September or October, is a time to remember the culture’s agricultural roots. The holiday centers around a special kind of dwelling called a “sukkah,” which has a roof of organic material, like palm leaves. The inside of the sukkah is strung with bright, shiny decorations. Make this craft with old, scratched CDs, and anything shiny and colorful you have on hand.
The Mid-Autumn Festival on August 15th celebrates a successful harvest and also honors children. Kids get special lanterns and take part in a parade. Our lanterns are made from paper and tape, and can inspire your own kids’ parade at home!
The Madeira Flower Festival takes place in the Spring, when flowers are abloom. The festival features a parade with floats and flowers everywhere, especially worn on clothing. Kids can make flowers out of any material you have: gift wrap, kleenex, colored paper, paper towels, or scraps of fabric. The flowers can be secured with pipe cleaner, tape, yarn, or rubber bands onto headbands, hats, belts or any article of clothing. If the weather is nice, the kids can have a parade, in true Flower Festival spirit.
The UK’s Harvest Festival happens in September or October, and includes singing and decorating churches with baskets of food. One traditional harvest time craft is making corn husk dolls. Since I didn’t have corn husks on hand, I used scraps of fabric. Once completed, kids can make hair from yarn and clothes from felt.
Give these crafts a try this Thanksgiving, and add some multicultural traditions to your celebration. That’s one more wonderful thing to be thankful for!