Turkey and potatoes, but not for dinner

I have come up with some pretty goofy ideas for projects or pretend play for my kids to do, but the potato turkey is my favorite. I have no idea where it came from or why. Probably divine inspiration.

My first-grader made two potato turkeys when he was three, and he pretended with the turkey couple for days, gobbling, walking them around on the table, and giving kisses. And the goofiness was only enhanced by the gigantic google eyes my son picked out to put on the itty-bitty head. I couldn’t help but giggle.

Even though I loved them so much, I had forgotten about them until I was looking at old pictures of former Halloweens and Thanksgivings and came across it. It made me giggle again, and I immediately got out the supplies: a potato, toothpicks, construction paper in brown and several other colors if you desire, squeeze glue, and google eyes.

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It doesn’t matter what you start with, but for some reason, I always start with five tail feathers. We chose to go colorful because it’s fun, but if you have ever seen a real turkey, they are mostly shades of brown.

Whatever colors you choose, you will need two cutouts of each–one for the front of the feather, and one for the back. I folded approx. 1 1/2 in. strips of each color and drew one approx. four-inch feather on each one. I helped my toddler cut them out until he started to protest, then I finished it for him. My first-grader cut the first one I drew, then freehanded (or actually free-cut) the rest.

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The kids then squeezed out an ample amount of glue on one side of one feather, then placed one toothpick in the middle, with at least a half inch extending past the end of the feather, to be stuck into the potato later. Then, they placed the matching feather on top of the toothpick and squeezed it together. In some cases, we needed to add more glue in around the edges or at certain spots around the toothpick. Pinching the toothpick inside the paper between the thumb and first finger, they then stuck the feather into one end of the potato. Repeat with the rest of the feathers.

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For the head, we used the same process as with the feathers, but we traced and cut out an oval for the head. One time, before sticking the second side of the head on, we cut a small triangle for the beak and glued it on the inside of the head; we also cut a wattle (the floppy flesh that hangs below the beak/head) and glued it to the bottom of the inside of the head, then placed the second head piece. You may want to attach sticky-backed eyes on the sides of the head before you glue the two sides to the toothpick. If you have the kind of eyes you need to glue on, you may want to wait until the two sides are glued to the toothpick already. Hold the toothpick and stick it into the opposite end of the potato from the tail. The turkey can fully dry as it sits. Aside from pretend play, we use ours as centerpieces.

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And wouldn’t you know it? My first-grader, without seeing photos of the ones he made three years ago, picked the biggest, goofiest google eyes for his turkey. What a turkey!

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