Schools in our area only held school the Monday and Tuesday before the Thanksgiving holiday, so we had an all-day play date with our cousins, Sam & Victoria. Isobel was bouncing off the walls with joy, and I got to see what life with four kids was like. Answer: exhausting. Very fun, but very exhausting. After a morning of playing indoors and a lunch that included an apple taste-test with three different apples (I confess I was cleaning out my fridge to make room for our upcoming feast), the kids were climbing the walls and ready for adventure. We have a park very near our home that has a small play area and a large drainage ditch for rain runoff. Ground squirrels live there, poking their little heads up out of their burrows in a game of eternal peekaboo and scurrying across the field. We were going to go on a squirrel safari, and we made sure to pack cameras, binoculars, magnifying glasses, a compass, and nature collection satchels to aid us in our expedition.
I had planned craft activities for the day, to help us settle down when we got home, and thought we could collect and decorate leaves with crayons, markers, and glitter glue. But the giant sycamore leaves we collected at squirrel park suggested something else, and we turned them into a turkey craft instead. I told the kids to gather a few leaves, different sizes and colors, but they just couldn’t stop. They were all so beautiful, and leaf collecting also did a great job of burning daylight, so they collected to their heart’s content.
When we got home they spread their collection on the kitchen table, and I collected the supplies we’d need:
- construction paper
As I mentioned, we used primarily sycamore leaves. Any leaves can be used, but sycamore and maple are a great shape for the fan of the turkey feathers. I think the large leaves are especially good for younger kids, as less dexterity and patience is needed, but older kids could handle making elaborate turkey fans out of all sorts of sizes and shapes of leaves.
— I gave the kids their construction paper and had them choose the leaves they wanted to use while I created a turkey body template, cut them out, and handed them to the kids. Older kids will be able to do this step on their own.
— Once they chose their leaves I used the scissors to snip off the thick stems. The stems just get in the way, and since our leaves were so large it was too difficult for the kids to cut through them on their own.
–The kids then decorated their turkey bodies and arranged the leaves how they wanted them. We opted for tape over glue for a couple reasons: 1. the leaves were thick and heavy and wouldn’t have responded well to school glue. 2. glue is really messy, and other than bringing the leaves in, using tape made this a very low-mess craft 3. glue takes a really long time to dry and tape meant this could go straight into the car when it was time to go without making a huge mess or damaging the craft. We secured the leaves by making loops of tape and sticking them to the undersides of the leaves. (Although Isobel, who loves to use tape and also loves being thorough, taped over the front of her turkey as well.
Elias had his own little paper, too. He just wants to be involved.
After the leaves were secured and the turkey taped on top, they decorated the paper and we named the turkeys. Victoria named hers Nugget and Sam named his Thor.
Isobel named hers Keykey and drew containers of pet food and water next to it. Her turkey must have been pardoned.
My turkey had hair and a fetching side part.