Empowering Writers

November 2010 Lesson of the Month

As thoughts turn toward Thanksgiving, our lesson of the month will encourage a bit of research and inspire some fun! Students will research and take notes on the wild turkey, write an informational paragraph, and then make their own wild gobbler. Here’s how…

1) Explain that they will research to find out all about wild turkeys. Begin by either gathering a collection of books from your media center or, ask students to locate some useful books. You might also refer them to the following websites:

For younger students: http://www.kidzone.ws/animals/turkey.htm and for older, middle grade students, try: http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/wildturkey.htm.

2) Give students some tips on how to take notes as they research. Write the following sentence on the board:

Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird.

Underline the key words in the sentence. Show them how to use a dash and slash to separate keywords and to remind them of the important fact they read: Ben Franklin – turkey/national bird

(For more on this skill, see “Write about Science”, p. 42-47.)

3) Have students compile their notes from a variety of sources.

4) Write the following main idea on the board: The wild turkey has a fascinating appearance.

5) Explain that they should place a check beside each of their details that relate to the main idea: appearance. These are the details they’ll include in their paragraph to support this main idea.

6) Have students share their selected details and discuss together to ensure that these are all relevant to the main idea – appearance.

7) Now, have them begin with the main idea sentence and organize their details. Provide some sentence starters to ensure sentence variety: This interesting bird has _____ You’ll notice _____

Unlike other birds, the turkey has _____ The wild turkey _____ This North American bird _____

8) Once their paragraphs are finished, they can make their own “wild gobblers.” Here’s what you’ll need:

  • plastic cups, preferably red
  • scissors
  • string
  • construction paper in assorted colors
  • crayons, markers
  • glue, tape

9) Poke a small hole in the center of the bottom of each cup, just large enough to thread through a 12 inch length of string.

10) Distribute cups, string, construction paper to students. Have them thread the string through the hole and tie a large knot on the outside of the cup, allowing the length of string to hang through the inside of the cup. This forms the turkey’s body. They will use the string to produce a “gobbling” sound – you’ll learn how later!

11) Cut out a neck and head, wing and tail feathers and affix with tape to the cup. Remember, the bottom of the cup should be facing up.

12) How to gobble? Have children hold the cup in one hand, thoroughly wet the fingers of their other hand and grasp the upper part of the string between (wet) thumb and forefinger. Tug at the string with wet fingers to produce an amazing gobbling sound! (For more on this, see “Easy Art Activities that Spark Super Writing”, p. 58-61.)