This is the time for celebrating Thanksgiving in your toddler classroom or maybe your teaching about Thanksgiving as a celebration from another country. Dance and song are joyous ways to teach your toddlers about being grateful and how people around the world celebrate.
Many of these dance activities are about turkeys! I have tried to find examples that teach the children either something about turkeys or alternatively teach a skill that may be part of their normal learning program. There are some that are specifically about being thankful and grateful.
Many of these toddler Thanksgiving movement songs teach about left and right, up and down, or body parts, others encourage new descriptions of movement. All of these are important life skills for young children and will help with their transition to school. Living in Australia we can also talk about bush turkeys and how they are different from the ones in the song.
Above all, these activities are fun for parents, children and teachers and may be done with a range of age groups. My 9-year-old granddaughter particularly likes Gobble Gobble Turkey Wobble.
Thanksgiving is also a time about celebrating our natural world and how we share it with other people.
Thanksgiving dance ideas
This is a lovely song about being grateful for the natural world around us. In this way it is in keeping with native American traditional celebrations that took place at the harvest time before the onset of winter.
With younger children you can do set movements, but with Preschoolers, you may like them to brainstorm their own ideas. The movements can be done on the spot if they are singing along or travel around more if they are just dancing to the music.
If they are devising their own Thanksgiving dance encourage them to use different levels for the different elements of the natural world. For example, up high for the stars and the sun and down on a low level for the land and even the animals.
Here are some movement ideas for Thanks a lot for younger children.
- Sun in the sky: cross the arms down low and bring them up and opening down by the sides.
- Clouds in the sky: arms make a circle and curve the torso from side to side like a rainbow.
- Whispering wind: take both arms up in front with the palms facing up and scoop the hands back towards the body (travelling fast up and slow down).
- Birds in the spring: arms stretch out to the side like wings and move the body around in figures of ‘8’, keeping the feet still.
- Moonlit night: look up to the sky and reach two hands as high as possible.
- Stars so bright: holding arms in the air with ‘twinkle’ fingers.
- Wonder in me: move the head from side to side with an expression of wonder.
- The way I feel: Hands over face and open hands out with a huge smile on your face.
- Animals, lands, for the people everywhere: squat down and put hands on the ground.
- For all I’ve got: jump up to make a star shape.
The turkey pokey dance
This Thanksgiving movement song is performed to the Hokey Pokey, but the parts of the human body are replaced with body parts of the turkey. The turkey anatomy you choose will depend on the age of the children and the approach you choose to take in your classroom.
Some suggestions for body parts may include the right and left wing, the right and left foot or the tail feathers. Some more interesting parts of the turkey that the children may be really interested in are the snood, a piece of skin on a young turkey’s nose, or the wattle, which grows under the turkey’s chin. And for the more adventurous, you could put a drumstick or the stuffing in and out.
This is a fun dance that has all the instructions on the video. It is performed and sung at the same time so is quite easy to follow.
Try to do the movements slowly with the children first and then try it faster with the music. Watching the video is fun if you have big screen but will work just as well with the teacher or parent leading the dancing.
The be thankful dance
Coming up to Christmas it is important to impress on children the joy of being grateful for the good things you already have. It encourages children to focus on the positive aspects of their lives rather than thinking about material possessions and what they may not have.
Begin by sitting in a circle and then the children identify what movements they are glad they can do. They then say the movement and jump up and do it on the spot.
This is particularly good for children with limited mobility as they can find their favourite movement. Some examples could include, but not be limited to, run (on the spot), jump, skip, give hugs, reach for the sky, wiggle your hips, stamp your feet, clap your hands, nod your head.
With older children you then repeat and think about other things your grateful for and do a movement that represents that thing. You can do this to instrumental music to draw the focus to the ideas of the children.
This Thanksgiving movement song teaches right/ left, up/down and also tells about what turkeys do to find food and how they move. The best part is that the turkeys get to escape the hunter at the end. A dance with a happy ending!
They explore several different movements through the song and all are self explanatory. The fun but informative movements include:
- dance around
- scratch your feet
- peck your beaks
- gobble and yelp
- flap your wings
- go to sleep
I would use this dance for slightly older children but use your own judgement. It looks at body parts and right and left. Performed by Koo Koo Kangaroo, it is fun and up to date and the children love it.
There are a range of movement suggestions and times in the song when the children can improvise their own movements. You could suggest doing it with a partner if doing this dance activity with preschoolers. This will assist the improvised sections as they mirror each other.
The more fun you have dancing and singing as a teacher or a parent, the more fun your children will have.
If you are doing a Thanksgiving or celebrations from around the world theme, in your classroom or at home, these dance activities will keep you all moving. The holiday season is upon us and its time to embrace all the fun dance in your classroom will bring.
Toddler Thanksgiving movement songs are fun for all the family and may be useful if you are thinking about doing an end of year performance for parents. This is an activity where parents will want to join in.