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T is for Terrific Turkeys

Last updated on 11/10/2018


Well Turkey day is fast approaching, and with the end of October in sight, and thanksgiving in less than a month I wanted to get a jump start on my November themes.  One of my favorite themes to do in November is T is for Turkey.   Why, well it lends itself to almost every single subject easily, and the kids are enamored by turkeys especially around Thanksgiving.  If you know of any one who has a turkey farm, or hunts turkeys and could bring in feathers, this would be a great time to bring them in or maybe bring in a real turkey, if it is white this is a great time to talk about the difference between domesticated animals and wild animals. This is also a great way to get parent involvement.  If you don’t have any one near you who could do this, that is fine, this unit works great with or with out that.  I am blessed to live out in the middle of the country and see turkeys on my way to school almost every morning and every evening on the way home.  I also have a neighbor down the road that has white turkeys that like to eat bugs on the side of the road as we drive by on Sundays for some reason.  In general I don’t have to worry most of the kids around me have seen at least one turkey, but to at least get to touch real turkey feathers, now that is kind of cool.   Back to business now, with out going any further into my feathery fetish, here are the subjects and the lessons that I teach with them. 


Hand print Turkeys:  The oldest thanksgiving project in the book, but also a classic.  There are two ways I to do this project I feel.  The first of which is the tracing the palm and letting them color in the turkey.  If you are teaching preschoolers, or 2’s and 3’s this may not be the way you want to go, however, if you are doing kindergartners or first graders, then it is definitely a way to work on fine motor, and to encourage independence.   If you try do the tracing turkeys with preschoolers more than likely you will need extra hands to trace every ones hands, and they will color out of the lines, which is still perfectly fine.  If you are semi perfectionist though, and want the kids projects to turn out a little bit nicer, I encourage you to paint the students hands instead of trace.  I have them paint their thumb and palm brown and the other fingers they can pick four colors they want, then I just help them to set their hand on the paper to make sure we don’t have a double vision turkeys. 

Gobbler Hats:  For this project to make all my little turkeys into actual little turkeys I make head bands.  I start out with about a three inch bands about two per student, this is to make the extra hat.  Then I cut a bunch of 1 1/2 Inch strips that we fan fold into the legs, this way they wiggle around and look crazy cool. You need two legs for each kid, but cut a few extra in case they struggle with the fan fold.  Then For the heads I cut out a brown circle head about 5 inches round. You need one head per student.   Then I cut out yellow diamonds, which we then fold in half to be the beak.  The diamond should be about 3 inches wide at its width and about 4 inches high.  I like to use large googley eyes for the eyes, again 2 per student.  Then of course I cut out one waddle per student which is about a 2 inch thin red oval.  Next I cut out 2 yellow feet for each student.  I basically draw a 3 inch bubble Y and add a bubble line between the two top prongs of the Y, so it looks kind of like a pitch fork.  Finally I cut out a bunch of 5-6 inch thin ovals to glue on the back as feathers.   For this project I like to use my classroom parent to help cut out all the parts way before hand so all they have to do is glue.  These hats also come in handy for music.  For “1 Little, 2 little, 3 little Turkeys, ” and the poem, “10 Fat Turkeys.” 

TP Turkeys: This is a simple one that I love for those who are good drawers, or you can cut out pieces and again use small googley eyes.  For the drawers I have them make a yellow triangle beak in the middle of the TP tube.  Then I have them practice drawing a red S down from the Yellow triangle.  This is supposed to be the waddle.  I have them draw two circles just above the beak, these are the eyes.  The draw two more smaller circles inside the two big circles and color them black.  Then I have them draw two orange Y’s on the bottom for the feet.  Lastly I have them cut paper strips out of 3-4 colors and glue them on the back for the feathers.  This project is great for teaching following instructions one step at a time.  For teaching this project,  I am  demonstrating for them as we go, so that they can see the instructions as well.  If however, your students aren’t quite ready for this, I have also cut out the parts and had them follow instructions, by gluing them on in the order that I tell them, and then show them, and then check and see if they followed along.  Note: Use stick glue for this the Elmers is too runny and will not stay as well, while they are working.   Either way this project is adorable. 


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Turkey Anatomy:  This is a simple project in which we read a book about real Turkeys.  I usually just ask the library for a good resource on this, I look for it to have the parts of a turkey talked about through out the book.  The other thing that kids love to hear about is that the color of a turkey’s head is blue.  The best one I can find so far is, ” All about Turkeys” by Jim Arnosky.  Then I give them a picture of a Turkey and asked them to color the different parts.  For instance color the head blue, color the waddle red, and color the beak orange.  This works on color recognition, and reviews the parts of a turkey.   Its a win win. 

Turkey Life Cycle:   For this we discuss that turkeys come from eggs, just like other birds.  We discuss other birds they know that come from eggs.  Then we talk about what baby turkeys are called a poult or a chick.   We talk about what a boy turkey is called, a Jake, and a female turkey is called a hen.  Testing their prior knowledge I ask what other bird’s female is called a Hen, (chicken). Finally they turn into a grown up Turkey.  We also talk about why The males are so colorful, and why the females are not.  Also we talk about why the male turkeys puff up, and fan out their feathers.  We say it is to get the hens, to like them and want to marry them and have babies with them.  They also lay one egg a day for 10 to 12 days at a time. 

Social Studies/ Social

Thankful Turkeys:  For this I have a Turkey outline, that I use of just a body.  It honestly looks like a bowling pin with eyes, beak, waddle, and feet.  Then I hand them out feathers (long ovals of covered paper) and I tell them to write all the people they are thankful for.  

Turkeys Home:  Again this is based on where you live and if you are some place where you could do this, but you could take the kids to a turkey farm, or visit some forested areas where there are known to be turkeys.  See if they can find the nests of the Turkeys.  Otherwise we talk about Turkeys growing up on a farm or in the woods.  This again can be discussed while reading, “All About Turkeys.”  


T is for Turkey:  Tracing T’s, Practicing drawing lines from Turkeys to other Turkeys that are the same, Circle the smallest Turkey, Circle the Biggest Turkey, Finding T’s in the Turkey. 

Where’s my Momma:  I have small Turkeys and Big Turkeys, I write the capital letter on the big turkeys and the lowercase letter on the baby turkeys and then they have to match them.  Make sure to laminate the turkeys as this game gets played a lot. 

The Great Turkey Race:   They love it because it is so silly.  I love it because it talks about being concerned about others even when they may not have been so nice.  I also love it because then we can have turkey races in the gym later. 

How to Make a Turkey Instructions:  One thing that I have found parents think is the cutest is, during free play time, I have the kids one at a time, tell me how they think they make a Turkey for Thanksgiving.  The answers are pretty hilarious.  Then I have them draw a picture of thanksgiving at their house to attach to the top.  I attach the picture and the information on a large sheet of construction paper to send home.  It usually gets big laughs or you find your future chefs one of the two. 


10 Fat Turkeys:   For this I work on the number 10, by reading the story, and by using our head bands to act out 10 fat Turkeys.   This book is great because it also has a lot of repetition, which the kids enjoy saying because it is, “gobble, gobble, wibble, wobble, oh dear there are …” and they fill in the number.  This works on their pre reading skills. 

Feed the Turkeys: On some cut out Turkeys I write the numbers 1 through 10, and then I try to find dried out corn kernels and count out the number of corn kernels of the number on the turkeys tummy.   Another way you could do this is recognizing the number on the belly and counting out that number of feathers.  I personally think the kids thought it was even cooler to feed the turkeys.  This also helped as I used the dried out corn that you can get at Menards or Ace hardware, for the squirrels.  Then you twist the cobs and the kernels fall right off.   The rest of the corn that you don’t use you can put into the Sensory table with some Indian Corn if it is available.

Rolling Feathers:  For this game you need the bowling pin turkey body again, and paper feathers, about 12 per student in a groups.  Four example for a group of four you would need four turkey bodies and 48 feathers in the middle.  You will also need a dice.  The game is to see who can get the most feathers for their fan before all the feathers are gone.  This works on one to once correspondence, number recognition, and counting skills. 


Dried out Corn and Indian Corn.  The cheapest corn you can find is usually the stuff they sell for the squirrels.  Otherwise if you know a nice farmer, you could definitely see if they would give you about 10 pounds to fill your sensory table. 


The Story of the 10 Lepers:   I picked this story because it reinforces the number 10 and the idea of thankfulness that we had in our Social Lesson.  Service Project: where each kid has to tell me one way they are going to be nice to someone, to thank them for being our friend.     I write it down and then check in at the end of the day to see how their project went.                     Thank Yous: We also work on writing thank yous to the lunch ladies, librarian, or other person who serves your school that doesn’t get much recognition.  This could also be an LES for the preschool students.  Watching how you write a Thank you.  This is also a chance for them to each work on signing their names.

Gross Motor

The Great Turkey Races:  For this I use the book as an example of relays to set up.  For instance one is a race, so I have them race in groups of three.  Then for the hurdles race, I put up cones or other obstacles that they have to leap over.  

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