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November 3, 2016

Gracias for a Great Book and Turkey Tacos

By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    I love the story Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey! As a bilingual teacher I have found that my students appreciate the Spanish words interspersed throughout the story as well as the cultural connections they make to a Latino family living in New York City. You can even find a Spanish language version of the book through Scholastic as well.

    This story is also wonderful because it addresses some deeper themes. The main character, Miguel, is a young boy living with his grandparents and his aunt because his father is a truck driver who is on the road for much of the year. Many students can relate to the single working-parent family dynamic and are excited to see a book reflect their lives in such a way.

    Bringing this book into your classroom and using it as a teaching tool shows students that families come in many sizes and varieties. At Thanksgiving time, when we as teachers often encourage our students to think about, write about, and draw their families, this story can be a wonderful addition to the conversation of diversity. To continue the conversation about the variety of families, use this Families: Thematic Song from Scholastic Printables, free for the month of November.

    In Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey, Miguel receives a turkey from his father and is told to fatten her up for Thanksgiving. The problem of the story focuses on how Miguel begins to develop a friendship with the turkey and soon considers her a pet and family member, not as a potential holiday meal. Many young students develop strong bonds with animals, even the little spiders that occasionally scuttle through our classroom, and can become very passionate that all animals should be allowed to live.

    Reading Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey may be one of the first times that young students make a connection between animals as living creatures and livestock, such as turkeys, as food. As a teacher it is important to carefully address this topic with students and be sensitive to their feelings, just as Miguel’s family must do when he begins to pray for his turkey’s life to be spared. If the topic of conversation is too much for your little ones, try discussing farm animals that are used for food or goods without killing them, like chickens for eggs, sheep for wool and cows for milk.

    While Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey is a great conversation starter for some tough topics, it is also just a wonderful holiday story with beautiful illustrations, comedic moments, and a Thanksgiving theme. For more ideas of activities you can do with your class after reading this story, check out a great Scholastic Printables resource, Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey, which is free the entire month of November!  

    As another fun follow-up to this Hispanic holiday tale, I thought I’d share my love of food with you all in the form of a non-traditional Thanksgiving recipe from my family: turkey tacos! My husband’s family lives on a farm on an island off of Seattle where they raise their own turkeys, along with a variety of other livestock. My mother-in-law is an amazing cook and one of her famous family recipes is for homemade tortillas and ground turkey tacos. If you are feeling like a November fiesta, try out this recipe and let me know how it goes!

     

    Steps to making homemade tortillasHomemade Tortillas:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup flour (a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flour)

    • ½ teaspoon salt

    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

    • Water

    Directions:

    1. Combine flour, salt, oil in a large mixing bowl.

    2. Stir in water until dough balls together and is sticky.

    3. Place on flour-covered surface for kneading.

    4. Knead in flour until the dough is no longer sticky.

    5. Form into balls about two inches in diameter.

    6. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball of dough into a flat tortilla.

    7. Heat each tortilla in a large pan over medium heat until lightly brown on both sides.

    8. Let the tortillas cool a bit and enjoy!

     

    Steps to making ground turkey tacosGround Turkey Taco Meat:

    Ingredients:

    • Medium onion

    • 1 pound ground turkey

    • 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)

    • 1 teaspoon salt

    • 12 tablespoons basil (dried)

    • 12 tablespoons oregano (dried)

    Directions:

    1. Chop onion.

    2. Combine onion and ground turkey in a medium pan.

    3. Cook over medium/high heat until turkey is browned completely.

    4. Add tomato sauce, salt, basil, and oregano.

    5. Stir well until ingredients are combined and thoroughly heated. 

    I love the story Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey! As a bilingual teacher I have found that my students appreciate the Spanish words interspersed throughout the story as well as the cultural connections they make to a Latino family living in New York City. You can even find a Spanish language version of the book through Scholastic as well.

    This story is also wonderful because it addresses some deeper themes. The main character, Miguel, is a young boy living with his grandparents and his aunt because his father is a truck driver who is on the road for much of the year. Many students can relate to the single working-parent family dynamic and are excited to see a book reflect their lives in such a way.

    Bringing this book into your classroom and using it as a teaching tool shows students that families come in many sizes and varieties. At Thanksgiving time, when we as teachers often encourage our students to think about, write about, and draw their families, this story can be a wonderful addition to the conversation of diversity. To continue the conversation about the variety of families, use this Families: Thematic Song from Scholastic Printables, free for the month of November.

    In Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey, Miguel receives a turkey from his father and is told to fatten her up for Thanksgiving. The problem of the story focuses on how Miguel begins to develop a friendship with the turkey and soon considers her a pet and family member, not as a potential holiday meal. Many young students develop strong bonds with animals, even the little spiders that occasionally scuttle through our classroom, and can become very passionate that all animals should be allowed to live.

    Reading Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey may be one of the first times that young students make a connection between animals as living creatures and livestock, such as turkeys, as food. As a teacher it is important to carefully address this topic with students and be sensitive to their feelings, just as Miguel’s family must do when he begins to pray for his turkey’s life to be spared. If the topic of conversation is too much for your little ones, try discussing farm animals that are used for food or goods without killing them, like chickens for eggs, sheep for wool and cows for milk.

    While Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey is a great conversation starter for some tough topics, it is also just a wonderful holiday story with beautiful illustrations, comedic moments, and a Thanksgiving theme. For more ideas of activities you can do with your class after reading this story, check out a great Scholastic Printables resource, Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey, which is free the entire month of November!  

    As another fun follow-up to this Hispanic holiday tale, I thought I’d share my love of food with you all in the form of a non-traditional Thanksgiving recipe from my family: turkey tacos! My husband’s family lives on a farm on an island off of Seattle where they raise their own turkeys, along with a variety of other livestock. My mother-in-law is an amazing cook and one of her famous family recipes is for homemade tortillas and ground turkey tacos. If you are feeling like a November fiesta, try out this recipe and let me know how it goes!

     

    Steps to making homemade tortillasHomemade Tortillas:

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup flour (a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flour)

    • ½ teaspoon salt

    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

    • Water

    Directions:

    1. Combine flour, salt, oil in a large mixing bowl.

    2. Stir in water until dough balls together and is sticky.

    3. Place on flour-covered surface for kneading.

    4. Knead in flour until the dough is no longer sticky.

    5. Form into balls about two inches in diameter.

    6. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball of dough into a flat tortilla.

    7. Heat each tortilla in a large pan over medium heat until lightly brown on both sides.

    8. Let the tortillas cool a bit and enjoy!

     

    Steps to making ground turkey tacosGround Turkey Taco Meat:

    Ingredients:

    • Medium onion

    • 1 pound ground turkey

    • 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)

    • 1 teaspoon salt

    • 12 tablespoons basil (dried)

    • 12 tablespoons oregano (dried)

    Directions:

    1. Chop onion.

    2. Combine onion and ground turkey in a medium pan.

    3. Cook over medium/high heat until turkey is browned completely.

    4. Add tomato sauce, salt, basil, and oregano.

    5. Stir well until ingredients are combined and thoroughly heated. 

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