Seattle's Child

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Thanksgiving break: small girl's feet in puddle with leaves

Toddler jumping in pool of water at the autumn day.

15 things to do with kids over Thanksgiving break 2020

Fun and rewarding activities indoors and outdoors

For many of us, the upcoming Thanksgiving break brings conflicting feelings. There’s the relief at escaping the grind of online learning, but there’s also the disappointment that we can’t gather for meals, or travel to visit much-missed friends and family. And it doesn’t help that there’s a convoy of rain clouds parked in the long-term weather forecast.

In case you are in need of brainstorming support, here are 15 things to do in the coming days.


Make Thanksgiving Day fancy

Because we can’t gather in large groups this year, we’ll have to choose carefully what we will keep on the menu from celebrations past. At my house, we’re forgoing the turkey in favor of a simple roast chicken, but my kids and husband do insist on cranberry sauce and “too much pie.” But even though you aren’t doing a day-long cook-fest (takeout, anyone?) you can still make the meal special. Have your kids make decorations for the table. Dress up for the family Zoom call in party clothes (at least from the waist up.) Bring out the good napkins and fold them up a special way. It’ll make all that pie taste better.


Make holiday cards and gifts

Most of us have more holiday mailing to do this year, and because the slowed down U.S. Postal Service and problems resulting from the pandemic, that mail has to go out earlier than it did in the beforetimes. So you really do need to be working on Christmas things during Thanksgiving break. If your loved ones are in another country, even in British Columbia, everything should be in the mail by November 25. Within the U.S., it’s December 8. So put your kids to work making cards and writing notes. Your family will love them!


Friday, November 27 is Native American Heritage Day.

Take some time to learn about local Indigenous People. On Nov. 20 and 21 you can stream the Indigenous People Festival. Another great place to start: the Hibulb Cultural Center website. Particularly good for kids: the stories in the “Storytelling” section, and the “History minute” videos.


Close your block

Get together with your neighbors, register with the city by Tuesday, Nov. 24, and participate in Seattle’s “Streetsgiving” program, in which you can close your block to traffic so kids and grownups have more space to play safely outside on Nov. 26, 26 or 27.


Go for a walk

You can do it in almost any weather (I draw the line at freezing rain, particularly if sideways), it’s simple, safe, and you can go different places depending on the time you have and the enthusiasm of your walking buddies. Here are some places to try:

3 magnificent fall hikes on the Eastside

5 great trails for a fall-winter family hike, in and near Seattle

5 walks for Seattle-area families on wet winter days


Visit a state park

Here are some lovely ones nearby. Bonus: Normally, you need to buy a Discover Pass but Friday, Nov. 27 is a free day.


Exercise indoors

When it’s too cold and dark to go outside, kids still need to get their wiggles out. 14 ways to get kids moving when you’re stuck indoors.


Play board games and card games

Here are some great ones to try:

10 games to play with your family during COVID-19 times (and after)

11 cool games to play with your kids during coronavirus quarantine


Exercise gratitude

Remembering what you are thankful for is a documented way to boost mental health. Here’s a list of gratitude-boosting activities for kids.


Explore nature

Go see the spawning salmon at Carkeek Park. Or stop by the body of water nearest you and watch the ducks hanging out there for the winter. Examine the fall profusion of mushrooms. Or spend some creative hours with playthings from nature.


Get crafty

You could try to make one a lion pillow or a panda puppet or these projects from the book “Girls who Build.”


Bake something simple

Kids love measuring, stirring, rolling dough, spraying pans, shaping cookies, all the steps that go into making a baked treat. If only they were as keen on cleaning up…


Go to the zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Cougar Mountain Zoo are all open. You could even go at night. The Woodland Park Zoo is open for “WildLanterns” while Point Defiance has its light show: Zoolights 2020.


Go to the snow

We are in a La Nina year, which means lots of dark, wet days at sea level, but the the gloom has a glittery, crystalline lining: we can expect lots of snow in the mountains. And it’s starting. Crystal Mountain, usually the first local ski area to get going, is open over Thanksgiving break.


Plan future adventures

Scheme about upcoming frolics on snow-covered mountains. It’s also time to plan summer camping reservations, if you are intent on going to a popular spot, such as one of these:

7 kid-friendly campgrounds that get booked up fast

Want to camp at one of these Washington State Parks next summer? Reserve your spot soon!


About the Author

Fiona Cohen

Fiona Cohen lives in Ballard with her husband, two teenagers, a big vegetable garden and an absurd cat. She is the author of "Curious Kids Nature Guide," and is working on a new nature book for kids, to be published by Little Bigfoot in 2022.