Discover something knew to share with the children with these fun Thanksgiving facts for kids. 

Thanksgiving is an American holiday that many people in the United States celebrate.

Families and friends gather for their Thanksgiving celebrations and prepare and eat delicious food together.

thanksgiving facts for kids

Many people begin celebrating the holiday very young, and know that it’s a time to honor what they’re grateful for.

But, the holiday has a history. It was started a very long time ago, and the celebrations looked slightly different than now.

Teach the kids and your family about the history of Thanksgiving below.

The First Thanksgiving Facts

In 1620, a group of English Protestants sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to make a new life in the “New World”. This initial group of people was called the Puritans.

The Puritans were English Protestants who wanted religious freedom from the Church of England.

The new world that they wanted to settle in was what we now call North America.

The puritans sailed across the Atlantic for 66 days and ended up in what is now Massachusetts. These English settlers named their new home and settlement the Plymouth Colony.

Life was not easy for these new settlers.

The living conditions and land were different and they needed help making it through their first winter. Native Americans came to their rescue.

Teach young children about Thanksgiving with these fun Thanksgiving poems for kids.

Who were the Native Americans?

  •  They were people that had been living in the “New World” for a very long time.

  •  They lived in different groups called tribes all across what we now call North America.

  •  The tribe living in Massachusetts near the Plymouth colony was called the Wampanoag tribe.

  •  The Wampanoag Indians had been living in the area for over 12,000 years.

  •  Since they had been living there so long, they knew the land and could help the Puritans.

A Wampanoag tribe member named Squanto knew English. He and other tribe members helped the settlers learn how to grow corn, fertilize their fields, and fish the area.

After they had been working together for a while, the English settlers and Wampanoag Indians made a pact to protect and help each other.


First Thanksgiving Feast Facts

To celebrate the harvest, the tribe and the Puritans hunted and prepared food for a feast together for three whole days.

When it came time to enjoy, all of the new settlers, Native Americans, and their children ate and celebrated with a harvest feast for the first time in 1621.

We love our football games, turkey, and cranberry sauce.

What did these first celebrations and the first Thanksgiving feast look like?

  •  They often ate ducks, geese, and swans, so the bird that they ate would have been one of these!

  •  The Wampanoag Indians brought plenty of deer meat to share. It was likely roasted on a spit over a fire.

  •  Corn would have made an appearance! However, not like we eat it. They would mush corn into porridge!

  •  Cranberries would not have been made into cranberry sauce. The puritan’s supply of sugar had run out by the time Thanksgiving rolled around.

  •  They had a lot of seafood at the first Thanksgiving celebration. Mussels were very common and easy to harvest in the Plymouth colony.

  •  They likely ate the first Thanksgiving meal with their hands. Forks were not invented yet!

  • Potatoes would not have been present. Indians may have brought turnips instead!

  • Pumpkins were likely at the first Thanksgiving feast. However, no butter, flour, or ovens meant no pie.

If your kids would like to learn more about turkeys, check out these 25 fun Turkey facts for kids. 


More Thanksgiving Fun Facts

As you just learned, Thanksgiving has a very rich history. This history has continued much longer than 1621. 

Below are slightly more recent Thanksgiving history and fun Thanksgiving facts for kids. 

  •  Every year at the White House, the National Turkey Federation presents the President of the United States with a live turkey! Harry Truman was the first president to receive a turkey.

  •  The Snoopy balloon is the oldest balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade!

  •  President Abraham Lincoln named Thanksgiving as a national American holiday in 1863.

  •  President Richard Nixon was presented with a turkey at the White House and sent it to a petting zoo!

  •  The average calories consumed by one person on Thanksgiving Day is 4,500.

  •  Football on Thanksgiving became a tradition in 1876. Yale and Princeton University were the first to play on the fourth Thursday of November!

  •  A woman named Sarah Josepha Hale wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” to convince President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving an official holiday.

  •  88% of Americans have Turkey on this American holiday.

  •  The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924.


Thanksgiving Traditions

While we still may gather together and share delicious food, our traditions look very different from the first Thanksgiving. Most of us do not hunt for three days before the holiday.

Our celebrations now often include grocery shopping, prepping a turkey, a lot of pie, and watching parades on TV.

If you are looking to add another fun Thanksgiving tradition to your schedule or need another classic dish for the holiday menu, read below. 

  • Thanksgiving dinner – This is an obvious one, but the most popular!
  • Football games – Whether you sit down and watch or just play outside, this is a great way to spend time together after your food has settled.
  • Black Friday – While this is technically the day after Thanksgiving, many stores open on Thursday night!
  •  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – This parade in New York City is the perfect entertainment to have on in the background as you prepare a meal together!
  •  Watch the National Dog Show – This airs after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • Thanksgiving crafts – Make a thankful tree with your family and friends! Write down what you are thankful for and let this sentimental craft remind everyone of what they have.
  •  Volunteer – Many families will dedicate their turkey day to serving a Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter.
  • Turkey Trot – Some families love to burn off a little energy before they sit down and feast! Many turkey trots offer smaller and shorter runs for children. 

Popular Thanksgiving Food

Pumpkin pie – A classic – creamy pumpkin filling and flaky pie crust with whipped cream on top!

Sweet potatoes – Some people like their sweet potatoes savory. Some like to go sweet with a sweet potato casserole!

Cranberry sauce – Whether you make it homemade or squeeze it out of a can, this sweet jelly goes perfect with a salty turkey.

Roast turkey – Roasting a turkey may be the most common method, but frying has become popular as well!

Apple pie – Apple pie is great all year, but on Thanksgiving it feels extra special. A great way to top of a delicious meal.

Potatoes – Roasted, baked, or mashed – all are delicious and perfect with gravy!

Green bean casserole – A dish that is very particular to Thanksgiving for many. For some, it wouldn’t be thanksgiving without it.

Grab this Thanksgiving poem HERE or on TPT

Before you go, here are some Thanksgiving related posts:

Thanksgiving Poems for Kids

17 Best Thanksgiving Movies for Kids

November Would You Rather Questions


Thanksgiving Facts for Kids