Thanksgiving Class Project: Give Turkeys a Hand!

This lesson plan is designed to help teachers present animal rights issues to their students. If you’re an educator, please feel free to adapt this material to fit your needs, and contact us if you need help incorporating this activity into your curriculum!

Suggested grade levels: PreK–2nd grade

Objectives: To think about turkeys as animals rather than as Thanksgiving dinner by learning interesting facts about them and by using fine motor skills and creativity to create a unique hand-shaped one.

When we think of Thanksgiving, we almost immediately think of turkeys, right? Unfortunately, most people are thinking about eating them rather than thinking about what vivacious and interesting animals they are. More than 45 million turkeys are slaughtered each year for Thanksgiving. Turkeys are intelligent and sensitive—they enjoy listening to music, can recognize human faces, and are protective mothers—and we should give them a reason to be thankful. This year, teach your younger students to appreciate turkeys for who they are, and NOT what they taste like, by making a cute hand turkey!

Hand Turkey

Here’s what you’ll need:

Brown construction paper (or recycle plain brown paper grocery bags)
Multicolored pieces of construction paper
Glue sticks
Stickers, glitter, pipe cleaners, or any other added decorations (optional)

  • Have your students trace an outstretched hand onto a brown piece of construction paper and then cut out it out.

thanksgiving turkey hand

  • If your students are old enough, have them cut the pieces of multicolored construction paper into teardrop shapes. (Otherwise, cut some out beforehand.) Then have them attach the teardrop shapes to the hand in between the fingers to make feathers.

thanksgiving turkey hand

  • Have students use a marker to draw a turkey face onto the thumb of the hand. The turkeys look cute just like this, but if they’d like to add some extra decorations such as stickers, glitter, or anything else, now’s the time!

thanksgiving turkey hand

  • Ask students to choose one of the following fun turkey facts and write it on the back of the turkey:
    • In the wild, turkeys can fly at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour and run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour!
    • Baby turkeys usually stay with their moms until they are 5 months old, and mother turkeys will bravely defend their families against danger!
    • Wild turkeys live to be up to 10 years old and are born with full-color vision!
    • Turkeys are naturally curious animals who are always checking out new sights and smells!
    • Turkeys love greeting visitors and making friends, and they can remember the faces of people they’ve met!

Take a few moments to discuss these facts with your students and talk about some of the many ways in which turkeys aren’t so different from us.

  • You’re done! Display these cute turkeys around your classroom, or send them home with your students.


thanksgiving turkey handthanksgiving turkey hand

Helping your students develop empathy for turkeys and understand what complex, fascinating, and intelligent animals they are is the first step toward having them make the connection between the food on their plates and the living, breathing beings who suffer behind-the-scenes on factory farms. And who knows? Maybe this year, thanks to this simple activity, they’ll think twice before eating turkey on Thanksgiving. 🙂

Have a kind holiday!

Looking for more turkey-related activities for your classroom? Check out TeachKind’s ‘Disguise a Turkey’ Activity!

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