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Keeping preschoolers entertained before the Thanksgiving meal

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While Thanksgiving dinner is usually a time of enjoying the company of friends and family, it can often seem drawn out and overwhelming to preschoolers and their parents. Younger members of the family aren't as entertained by Uncle Joe's story about the time he and Cousin Clem went hunting for a turkey and ended up spending the night in a tree hiding from a skunk. There are lots of ideas and suggestions out there for keeping toddlers and preschoolers from having a melt down during the holiday meal. Here are some from the Preschools Examiner.

Heidi Klum is a busy mom, there is no denying it. But she has some great ideas for the children's Thanksgiving table that each parent can adapt according to their specific needs. Here are some links to free, printable coloring pages for the kids' table.

There are also lots of handprint Thanksgiving and turkey projects that could be set up in the kids' area on Thanksgiving day. Don't forget to include some books about turkeys and Thanksgiving, too.

If you really want to provide a children's area that will keep the kids busy and entertained while the Thanksgiving meal is being prepared, make sure to include some Kool-Aid play dough and some cookie cutters so they can "help." You might also want to include some puzzles and some other simple toys that will keep their creativity flowing.

The best tip is making sure you pay attention to your preschooler's cues. If they are cranky, maybe it's time for a nap. If they complain that they are hungry, it doesn't hurt to give them a snack. Making them wait until the big meal is often counter-productive. Most of all, relax and remember these big family gatherings happen only a few times each year and you are creating memories.

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