Holiday crafts can eat up a lot of instructional time, but making a classroom Thanksgiving turkey recipe book is a great classroom project that will be treasured for years to come.
After years of creating these books, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way to make these ten step-by-step directions as simple as possible:
1. Start early in November to make sure that you aren’t rushing for paint to dry before kids get on the bus the day before Thanksgiving break. (Yes, I have learned this lesson from experience.) A helpful hint is to read a Thanksgiving book early in the month. We learn about Thanksgiving closer to the holiday, but reading one book before starting the project will give students the background knowledge they may be lacking about what Thanksgiving is, and how we celebrate.
If you have a daily calendar time, that is the perfect opportunity to read a Thanksgiving book. This year, I recommend Thanksgiving for Emily Ann by Teresa Johnston and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Emily Ann is an adorable, but spirited girl who learns the true reason we celebrate Thanksgiving.
2. Poll each child, one by one, and ask them to give you their recipe for how to make a Thanksgiving turkey. Watch the video below for a few of the responses I got this year. I typically will sit beside them and write word for word what they say, but you could also video each child so it’s easier to transcribe later. This part of the activity always helps me to see where each student is in learning to sequence. Even when they have no idea how to make a turkey, you can tell the student who has the concept of beginning, middle, and end from the flow of their recipe.
3. Type up each student's recipe, word for word. I usually pick a different font for each student, and I try to match the font up with their personality. Then print each student’s recipe. I typically type up everyone’s recipe while watching TV in the evening.
4. To integrate my students’ technology standards, I have everyone type their own name. They pick the font and the size of their name. Then they add a clipart of a turkey. I let them choose whichever picture they like and they can size it however they see fit. Obviously, we have worked on these skills previously and this project serves as my assessment. Each child prints their own page.
5. Once again, while watching TV, I cut out their recipe that I typed and glue it to their name/clipart page that they printed.
6. Type up an introductory letter for the book. You can use this letter or create your own. If you use the one provided, make sure to add the grade, year, and your signature to make it more meaningful.
7. Make one copy of everyone’s recipe for the number of recipe books you want to create. I make one book for each family, one for me, one for any teaching assistants involved, and one for each administrator. I always organize my class recipe books alphabetically by last name.
8. Type up a book cover and make copies on construction paper. Typing one takes a lot less time then handwriting each cover. Once again, a lesson I learned from experience. I always use yellow or a light brown. Leave plenty of room for the child’s handprint turkey on the cover.
9. Have each child create a turkey handprint for the cover of their book. Don’t forget you will need some extra handprints for the extra copies you are making.
10. Assemble the book. I can honestly tell you that I have gotten more responses from this book than any other holiday-themed craft that I have ever created with a class. One parent even contacted me several years later and said that they get out their copy of the Thanksgiving turkey recipe book every year at Thanksgiving and read it. For that family, the book has become a family tradition.
I can’t wait to see you next week.
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