Toddler Handprint Turkey Craft

Thanksgiving craft

This is not a new craft, handprint turkey crafts in their many variations are everywhere and they should be , they are classic and simply a part of childhood!  This one is adapted for toddlers to make them active participants in the creation of the craft. You can often adapt craft projects meant for older children to a toddler’s ability by using different tools, fewer steps ( less detail) and removing small pieces that may be dangerous.  Also I find with messy crafts like this using a booster that allows you to belt your child in is useful, not to force them in any way to do the craft ( which should not happen) but rather to keep them in one safe place after they have messy hands. No one is calm if their child is making a beeline for the couch with hands covered in paint. This way we can focus on the activity not the mess.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a toilet paper ( or paper towel roll), a paper grocery bag or craft paper, paint, a plastic basting brush and plastic plate, glue , scissors and googly eyes* I used googly eyes because my daughter doesn’t mouth them. If you read my posts from 2008 you will see I never used them when my son was this age, because they would go in his mouth immediately. I still watched her like a hawk and only brought them out when it was time to glue. If your child is like my son , just draw the eyes on like I did with the nose.
  2. Cut open the bag and tape it to the table. I love doing this for toddler art , it’s a drop cloth and project all at once.
  3. Start by tracing their hands 3-5 times on the bag. We did 4 and as you may be able to tell that was not easy. If your child is really resistant trace one hand on a cereal box or other scrap paper then cut it out and use that for a template. Don’t upset them before they even get to make a mess !
  4. Time to paint, add multiple colors on the plate.
  5. See why I used a plastic plate?
  6. Also this brush she is using is a plastic basting brush. I chose it because the bristles are sturdy silicone and have never ripped off despite effort to tear it. It’s also big enough for clumbsy toddler fists to paint with.
  7. Expect them to use their hands , although I should mention some kids at this age start showing a real aversion to getting things on their hands , don’t force them to “relax” , instead offer a wet wash cloth to wipe anything off, and support their play even if it’s not what you expected. Many kids don’t like messy play.
  8. Cut the roll in half. Draw a nose or rather beak for the turkey.
  9. Roll the roll in the paint.
  10. Let dry ( I cleaned up the mess while singing to her and giving the roll a minute to dry ). Add glue to the roll. Help your child place the eyes on the glue.
  11. Let the hand prints dry and cut out.
  12. Add glue to the roll and place the cut out hands on the back as turkey feathers. Tip: Use a clothes pin to hold them in place until the glue dries.
  13. Add this to your holiday mantle.
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  1. Lori says

    I like your post not only because the craft was fun but because of your attitude on helping little ones enjoy the craft with out being overly concerned about the mess involved. Little people are messy, and full of curiosity. Some like messy, some don’t. Working with a childs personality and adjusting to their quirks is the best way to bring out the best in your child!

  2. Patty says

    This is so exciting! I thought I made this up last year, and now I found someone else who thinks like I do!! I was teaching 4 and 5 year olds last year and made a 3d of the head to glue on so the head sticks out. It’s kind of hard to explain. hope you understand.

  3. Margaret says

    I just found your website yesterday and you have inspired me! I have been staying home with my 15-month-old boy since mid-June and haven’t been brave enough to try paint yet (or any crafts, for that matter). Your daughter looks to be about the same age so that builds so much confidence to try new things! Also, I LOVE that you give tips (e.g., toddlers not liking messy hands) along with the step-by-step. I don’t know how little man is going to react, but I feel more prepared! I’m stunned that he even let me trace his hand once (last time I tried, he pulled away instantly), so I made a template. Now I’m all set up to try this afternoon when he’s up from his nap. Grandma, Great-Grandma and Auntie are going to be the recipients if it works out.

    • admin says

      This comment made me smile! This is exactly why I have a blog- I hope you have fun together. And yes they are close in age she is almost 17 months. I started NTFFC when my son was your son’s age so check out the archives ( there is a drop down menu on the right hand side), for more fun.


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