One of my favorite things to do with the kids is read. But I also love doing crafts and projects with them, so I try to combine the two as much as possible by pairing some kind of craft or activity with the books we read together. There is so much color and imagination in children’s books that it’s almost impossible to not be able to come up with something fun to make the books we read come alive!
A few years ago when we were homeschooling I bought a handful of Thanksgiving books. Most of the books are based on the ever so important historical facts about the first Thanksgiving and some of them were just for fun like this book, Setting the Turkeys Free, by W. Nikola-Lisa.
This book begs for you to make these silly little hand turkeys along with the main characters, a little boy and his dog. In the story the boy starts with a blank sheet of paper and walks the reader through step by step on how he makes his turkey come alive with paint, toothpicks, and “fun shiny things”.
“Look! There’s a turkey! The thumb is the head. The palm is the body. The fingers are the feathers. They look like a tail!”
But making just one turkey leads to a whole gang (or rafter– did you know that this is what a group of turkeys is called?!), and the little boy’s imagination takes flight bringing life and impending danger. The boys artwork expands as he constructs a grassy, fenced in area to protect his beautiful turkeys with paint and popsicle sticks from a hungry fox.
Here’s what we used from our art cabinet to construct our turkeys.
Not only do the kids love to paint, but they love getting paint all over themselves! Handprint art is the perfect blend of fun/keepsake/craft. The only drag here is that you have to wait for the paint to dry before you start constructing your turkeys. Also, to keep things neat, I cut out the hands for them but cutting is a necessary skill for little ones so make sure you kids get plenty of opportunities to use those kid-friendly scissors!
As soon as the paint was dry, we used Elmer’s glue to add the glitter, tissue paper feathers, eye balls, and a small beak and a snood (yep– that’s what that red floppy thing is called!). Looking back, I can’t believe I forgot to have the kids add the toothpicks for legs! We did however, add a popsicle stick so the kids could easily hold their turkeys and act out a few scenes from the story.
These little turkeys also make a cute Thanksgiving decoration when placed in a mason jar!
Truth be told, my kids and I did this craft a few years back and I intended to do a post on it as part of a storybook craft series. We made it all the way through the craft, and the pictures, but I didn’t get to the post on time! When I came across these photos last week I decided that it would never be too late to do this post because it was such a memorable craft for us. I still have those little turkeys they made and I keep them stored with the book. Every year when I pull out our Thanksgiving books and the turkeys, they still love them and immediately begin to act out the story and even spend time making up a few new storylines of their own! I pray the turkeys continue to hold up. The kids also love comparing the size of the their hand with their turkeys to see how big they’ve grown. My, have they grown!
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