Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanksgiving Pretend Play

Here's a creative pretend play idea for Thanksgiving. During the month of November, we transform our dramatic play center into a Thanksgiving Feast.  We remove all pretend food from the center except those that would be found at the first Thanksgiving like vegetables, breads, and turkey. 

I also replace our regular dress up clothing with homemade pilgrim and Native American costumes.  The costumes are made from bath towels.  To make the pilgrim costumes, I purchase black bath towels and white hand towels. I fold the towels in half and hot glue the white towel to the middle of the black towel.  I cut a half circle on the crease of the fold so that when you open the towels they have a circular opening for the children’s head.  The students wear them like a poncho.  

My son, EJ, playing a happy pilgrim.
To make the Native American costumes, I purchase tan bath towels. Fold them in half and cut a triangle on the fold to make a diamond opening for the children’s head to go through. Then, I paint Native American designs on them with fabric paint.  

 EJ portraying a Native American boy
who is fed up with his mother!  

Each year the children make Pilgrim hats and bonnets, as well as Native American headbands during art small groups to use in the dramatic play Thanksgiving center and then double as their hats for our Thanksgiving feast.  

Payton, my youngest son, demoing the Native American headband. 

To encourage purposeful play in the dramatic play Thanksgiving Feast Center, I share books like “Thanksgiving Day” by Anne Rockwell so the students can see images of the first Thanksgiving.  

Instructor's Insight:  Some years, my students do not have the skills to pretend play on their own. On those occasions, I create a video model of how to play at the play center. My son and a friend come in after school to play in the center naturally. I record their play on my iPad and narrate what they are doing so my students can understand how to play pretend. 

(For more research on video modeling, check out this site:


  1. Here's the link to the pilgrim bonnet template: