Turkey Feather Hunt { Gross Motor Game}

This easy Thanksgiving themed game has been lovingly named ” Naked Turkey” at our house . It is so fast to make but the fun will last for a long time. Kids love searching for things and games like this not only works on concentration it also naturally leads to counting, color recognition and sorting.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clean jar, some orange or brown construction paper, some some, googly eyes , tape, markers and feathers.
  2. Start by cutting out a turkey torso. Think chubby bowling pin cut in half. Add a gobble, beak and glue on some eyes.
  3. Tape to the jar. I am taping it because I love these jam jars and plan on using it for something else after we are done with this game. As you can see my daughter was collaging scrap paper while I made it, or so I thought.
  4. Choose a spot in your house to hide the feathers. I do it in my living room because I can shut the doors and keep the kids out while I hide them. Also in a relatively small space a toddler won’t get overwhelmed. do what works for your kids. Can you see any feathers in this picture?
  5. Invite your feather finders and play! She loved this and so did my son after he got home from school ( but the light was even worse by then so no pics).
  6. After she found them all we counted them and sorted them by color, purple first of course!

Since making this on Friday we have played daily with no signs of getting tired of it. My son loves to be the hider and tried to stump my husband and I . I particularly love that the game isn’t too messy to play anytime no matter who is over for Thanksgiving dinner!

 

Feather Color Match

feather color matchingMy daughter is a natural color matcher. Although you most often see her in her PJs my daughter is a stickler for matching accessories and can be heard saying ” It matches , look Mama dat toy matches me dress!” often.  I knew she would like this activity but I was still happily surprised by the concentration she showed while doing it .This activity not only for color recognitions it is great for both fine motor development and eye hand coordination too.We called it a turkey feather match since we’ve been talking a lot about turkeys and Thanksgiving but you could do this any time of year.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some styrafoam ,colored feathers,  permanent markers in colors that match your feathers. That’s it!
  2. Start by making dots on the styrafoam with the markers.
  3. Invite your best color matcher to do their thing! I showed her how to do the first one and then she was off!
  4. She pointed out extra dots that we had no feathers for. Luckily I hadn’t put all the feathers out and was able to get a few more for her to match. 
  5. And she did.

Thanksgiving Books For Kids

Thanksgiving is on it’s way even if you ( ok me) still have a few Halloween decorations to take down and pack up. Here are our favorite Thanksgiving books for kids.

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman is such a cute and funny book about a town that needs a turkey and the hilarious lengths they go to to find one. The town is sadly outwitted by the turkey and end up eating shredded wheat for thanksgiving. The illustrations kept my little man interested when he was a toddler but he only started understanding the dark humor at around 4. I love this book because of the humor makes me giggle. My son was a little off put by the idea of the towns folk eating the turkey and was relived when he escaped before they shoved him in the oven. I like that he is starting to understand that the meat he eats is actually a cooked animal, we take that for granted but for many young kids this is a huge realization!

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston was a classroom favorite, it’s about as silly as a book gets and the kids had no clue they were actually learning about subtraction while listening to the crazy rhymes. This won’t explain the pilgrims , or talk about the Mayflower, but it will make your kids laugh! Very cute!

This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed is a stunning gem of a book. I can’t believe I haven’t read it before, normally great books like this go through teaching circles like wildfire. The book has so many layers it will keep toddlers and preschoolers alike busy and engaged. The text explains the first Thanksgiving while counting 1-10 in rhyming poetry and the illustrations by Mark Buehner have hidden treasures, see if you can find them! After I return this to the library, I will be buying it for sure!

Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Tree House #27) by Mary Pope Osborne is part of the Magic Treehouse series which I simply can not say enough good things about. My son started reading them this summer and each time I go to the library ( and I am there a lot) I check to see if they have any books in the series we haven’t read yet. This one though I got for my son when I was at the Scholastic store in NYC. Thanksgiving is special for my son since he was born on Thanksgiving and I wanted him to have this one to keep. If you aren’t familiar with this series Jack and Annie are the time traveling siblings that go back in time to gather objects to help their magical librarian friend Morgan. My son is a history buff and these books have fueled that on his level so beautifully. In this book they travel back in time to the first Thanksgiving and despite thinking that they wrecked everything the message that it’s the friends at the table not the food on it that matters shines through.

Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey was such a treat to read. It’s a reworking of the classic Christmas poem, with a Thanksgiving twist.  A bus full of kids head off to the turkey farm the day before Thanksgiving and are immediately enamored with the birds. When a child asks the farmer what the axe by the door is for… well let’s just say the truth is told and the kids fall apart. They don’t stay down for long though, the kids outsmart the farmer and their teacher to save the turkeys from the axe. Somehow the author finds a way to make the possible slaughter of these happy friendly, named turkey’s funny. My son was giggling while I was kinda nervous that they’d get the axe! Great rhymes throughout this hilarious book!

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’  by Eileen Spinelli is a really cute story that offers many opportunities for parents to talk about lying, disappointment and what really matters at Thanksgiving. The Tappleton’s Thanksgiving dinner is doomed, first the turkey falls in the pond, then there are no pies left at the bakery and then continues to get worse. No one wants to be the person to ruin the holiday dinner and keeps it a secret that the part of the meal that was their responsibility is ruined. Of course this means they end up eating liverwurst and pickles for dinner but Grandma saves Thanksgiving by reminding them all that it doesn’t matter what they are eating but who they are eating with.

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (Time-Traveling Twins) by Diane Stanley . I can’t  say enough good things about this book, but I will try. The story starts with a time traveling grandmother who takes her grand kids back to the Plymouth plantation days before what is often called the 1st Thanksgiving. My son was hooked on this book with the revelation of the time traveling and I loved that it put all the common myths surrounding Thanksgiving and the pilgrims to the forefront and included the true history without wrecking any cherished views of this beloved holiday. The book is long as it should be in order to go into the depth of what life was like for the Pilgrims and how they learned with help of the local Native Americans how to survive in this new land. While reading it to my son I was so happy to hear him say ” I learned that today , that’s in my book!” to many of the text.  I am buying this book tonight, and returning it to the library in hope of many other families being able to read and love it as much as we did.

Thanksgiving Treat by Catherine Stock is a really heart warming book that will take you back to family gatherings of your childhood. The story follows the Thanksgiving day preparations of an extended family and one little boy who just wants to help. He goes from one job to the next where he is always told he is too little, or it’s too dangerous for him to do, and he should go somewhere else. Finally his Grandpa steps in with a very important job and the sad little boy is given new hope to be helpful. I remember being too little, and I know that from time to time my son is told he is too little too, this book is a kind reminder of finding ways to make even our littlest family members feel important and included. My son really liked it as well, while reading it today he stopped me and listed some of the things he is still too little to do, and the things that he has recently been able to do independently. Great book to sit down and talk about with your child.

 Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland is book that explains what Thanksgiving is, and gives lots of examples of things to be thankful for. I like this book although I could go without the page where the narrator is thankful for lollipops, all the other things are wonderful like a teacher’s encouragement, grandma’s hugs, and sunny days and to me the lollipops sorta fall flat. Easily skipped over if you are not keen on it but the book as a whole is valuable teaching tool about thanksgiving. * Edited 2012 Both my kids love this book and I have no clue why I was so uptight about the lollipops reference?! I have chilled out as a mom I guess. Both my kids list what we think of as little things like lollipops on their things to be thankful for and that’s great . As a parent I just want them to be appreciative of things even if lollipops are lumped in with bedtime snuggles and family time.

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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.