A Thanksgiving activity that is fun and helps kids work on their fine motor skills too? Awesome!
Our Thanksgiving turkey sensory bin is perfect to pull out as you get your kids ready for Turkey Day.
RELATED: Need more super easy Thanksgiving activities? Check out all 20+ Thanksgiving activities for toddlers that I’ve pulled together.
This Turkey fine motor activity uses playdough! We think playdough is one of the best sensory activities you can do with kids. We love making the Imagination Tree’s homemade playdough or just buying colorful playdoh containers online. Either is great!
Why should you play with playdough?
Playdough has so many great benefits for toddlers and preschoolers… and even older kids!
Here are a few reasons kids should play with playdough:
- Playdough reduces stresses and can be a calming activity for kids. It can also help them deal with strong feelings.
- Playdough gives kids healthy and safe outlets for extra energy. They can pound, squeeze, flatten, etc.
- Playdough helps kids use their creativity and imaginations.
- Playdough playtime allows kids to interact with one another (or you) and talk about what they are doing and build their vocabulary and language skills.
- Playdough time helps kids work on social skills. As kids play with playdough together they have to practice taking turns and asking for what they need. They also practice patience waiting for things.
- Playing with playdough helps kids develop the small muscles in their fingers and hands. It also helps them work on hand-eye coordination and gain strength and improve dexterity in their hands and fingers. These muscles play an important part as they grow in helping them with writing, drawing, zipping up clothes, buttoning their coat, etc.
You can read more about the benefits of playdough on NAEYC’s Playdough Power post.
Easy Turkey Playdough Sensory Bin
This turkey sensory bin requires very little set up and encourages kids to play with the materials in an open ended way. There is no finished “product” and the kids can use the materials however seems interesting to them.
Materials Needed for a Turkey Sensory Bin
- Googly eyes
- Playdough (brown or a variety of colors)
- Foam triangles (for the beak)
- Large Plastic container (underbed storage box)
- Small bowls for googly eyes and foam
How to set up your Turkey Sensory Bin:
1. Take a large underbed storage container and put it in your kitchen or another area of your house where playdough is allowed. You don’t want to do this activity near any porous flooring, or carpet.
2. Place several balls of playdough in the bin along with small bowls of googly eyes, feathers, and foam triangles.
3. Introduce the activity to your child and tell them we’re doing a fun activity with some exciting materials. Then sit down next to your child and start creating. Invite them to join in!
4. Encourage kids to explore the materials, add feathers, googly eyes, and beaks.
I try and avoid saying, “We’re making turkeys” because then this activity seems to end abruptly as soon as a child has finished making their turkey.
Instead we talk about how we’re exploring the feathers and eyes and trying to make different things with the playdough.
Some kids will “have” to make the turkey while other kids will make monsters with tons of googly eyes or other creations.
The materials in this activity serve as a jumping off point.
Your child should lead the activity and the activity can change depending on the kids!
Don’t have a large plastic container to use as a sensory bin? No big deal!
Just cover a table and play on there. The sensory bin is helpful because it contains some of the messy materials, but this activity can still be done without it.
How early can my child play with playdough?
Great question! For me this is less of an “age” question and more of a stage question.
Does your child still try and put everything in her mouth?
Can your child sit up independently?
For kids that are in an oral stage and like to put everything in their mouth, I would select a taste-safe type of playdough to use. You could use playdoh that is non-toxic, but I always feel a little safer with the homemade taste safe playdough.
Taste safe playdough is NOT edible playdough. We don’t tell kids, “you can eat this playdough, it won’t hurt you.” It is just nice to know that IF your child happens to eat it, nothing bad will happen.
Don’t go around advertising that it is taste safe to the kids.
Once a child is mostly out of the stage of putting everything in their mouth, then I will use regular playdough with them. You do need to make sure that any playdough tools/materials you use with your child are also safe.
Once your child can sit up in a high chair, you can totally try edible/taste-safe playdough with them. Give them simple ideas to play with in the playdough (straws, dinosaurs, etc.).
Just try it and see what happens.
If you try it, and it seems like a bust and your kid just spends their time chowing down on the playdough… take a month off and try again.
It is amazing how much kids change and their preferences and abilities change too just in a few months!
RELATED: Want to try some different fine motor skills activities? Here are 10 incredibly easy to set up fine motor sensory bins.
Do you have any other favorite fine motor skills activities you love?
What other Thanksgiving activities are on your list this month?