I love the winter holidays as much as the next person, but I do feel that Thanksgiving can get a little slighted sometimes. Christmas music starts playing on the radio and all of the merry decorations hit the Target shelves before I’ve even begun to think about what to put on the Thanksgiving dinner menu (okay, that’s a lie. I am not the chef in the family and one of the things I am most thankful for is my culinary-inclined husband). But you see my point!
Luckily there is no shortage of Thanksgiving-themed ideas for the classroom. A popular November craft/activity you may have seen or even done with your students is having them disguise a turkey! The kids get a kick out of coming up with creative ways for turkeys to escape the dinner table.
Just like those sneaky turkeys, teachers can be a little sly themselves. Take this fun activity, and use it to “disguise” some standards-based learning! The kids have so much fun with the topic that they often don’t even realize all of the reading and writing magic taking place.
First, you might do a read aloud or two to start getting the wheels turning. Here are a few of my favorites:
After reading at least one of these stories (and the turkeys clearly have the kids in their corner), you could introduce the opinion writing portion of the assignment. Give them the writing prompt:
“Thanksgiving is on the way, and the turkeys do not want to turn into a main course! In your opinion, what disguise should a turkey wear in order to escape turning into food on Thanksgiving?”
This assignment can be done together in class during writing time, or it’s also ideal for sending home as a project to be completed with parents/families. Or a combination of both! You might consider completing the writing portion in class, but sending the turkey craft to be created at home.
When choosing to send it home as a writing assignment, I recommend giving parents some detailed guidelines and a grading rubric.
If you need to customize the grading rubric or parent instructions to meet the needs of your class, these ones are editable. Also included with the resource, but not pictured here, is an editable parent letter with instructions about the turkey craft only.
For the writing portion, students could start out by brainstorming their ideas on a circle map and outlining their ideas on a planning page. These pre-writing activities are also available to help them complete their rough draft. You could provide parents with the blank templates and also give them samples if needed.
Once the kids have completed their rough draft, they can use an editing marks chart and checklist to edit and revise their writing (pictured above).
Each child is given final draft paper to publish their writing. They also get a template of a paper turkey to create the disguise that they wrote about, which is their favorite part of course. It’s always so entertaining to see the creative ideas they come up with!
A digital Google Slides version is also included with the resource, if needed. Students can type their paragraph onto the slide, and use their own digital drawing tools and clipart to keep their turkey from becoming a main course.
For the record, a donut probably wouldn’t stay safe for very long in my household! But I suppose that’s what makes this an “opinion” writing assignment, right?
I hope that you and your little turkeys enjoy the rest of this fall season!