As Thanksgiving approaches, connect the holiday to science by helping your kids learn about turkeys. Here are some activities that will give your children knowledge to wow the guests at Thanksgiving dinner!
Education standard: Recognize that some books and other media portray animals and plants with characteristics and behaviors they do not have in real life.
Explore a variety of media about turkeys (fiction and nonfiction books, cartoons, documentaries). If possible, observe wild and/or domesticated turkeys. Talk about what turkeys look like and how they act in each source where you find information. Identify the turkeys and their behavior as true to life or made up. Your child can draw two pictures. In one picture, the turkey’s traits and behaviors can be true to life, and in the other picture, the turkey’s traits and behaviors can be made up.
Education standard: Through observation, recognize that all plants and animals, including humans, need the basic necessities of air, water, food, and space.
Explore a variety of informational media about turkeys (books, documentaries) to find out how these animals meet their basic needs. If possible, observe wild and/or domesticated turkeys. Discuss turkeys’ need for air to breathe, their sources of water, the types of food they eat, and the type and amount of space that they need. Your child can draw a picture of a turkey that includes how it meets its needs for air, water, food, and space.
Education standard: Recognize and explain that living things are found all over Earth, but each is only able to live in habitats that meet its basic needs.
Look up what turkeys eat and what types of habitat they live in. Print out a U.S. or North America map that shows the outlines of the states and/or countries. Search the internet for “wild turkey range map” to see where wild turkeys live. Your child can copy the range map by coloring on their own map. They can make a map key for the color they use with the description “Wild turkey range” or “Where wild turkeys live.” Choose one or more places on the map and look up the type of habitat found in those areas. Do the habitats match the type of habitats that wild turkeys live in? If possible, visit the type of habitat that turkeys prefer and search for their food sources there.
Education standard: Classify animals into major groups (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, arthropods, vertebrates and invertebrates, those having live births and those which lay eggs) according to their physical characteristics and behaviors.
Look up characteristics of birds and then find out how wild turkeys display these traits. You can search for images online for “wild turkey skeleton” to see the vertebrae, beak, and strong, lightweight skeleton. You can also look for images of turkey feathers and eggs. How many eggs can a female turkey lay? Are turkeys warm-blooded or cold-blooded?
Education standard: Trace the flow of energy from the Sun as it is transferred along the food chain through the producers to the consumers.
Look up the type of food that turkeys eat. Then find out the animals that eat turkeys. Draw a simple food chain with arrows to represent energy flowing from the Sun, to a plant that the turkey eats, to the turkey, and to its predator. If your child is ready for a challenge, you can make the food chain more complex by adding insects and small reptiles between the plant and the turkey and by adding a predator that eats the turkey’s predator.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
*Education standards are from Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.