Lesson Plans for Elementary School Students
Full Length Lesson Plans from an Elementary School Teacher
Art Lesson Plan: Thanksgiving Turkey Napkins
A little fabric paint and a little creativity, brushed on re-usable cloth napkins, makes a beautiful keepsake of each child’s hand print that can be used every Thanksgiving.
- grade 1’s learn about the elements of shape and form, color, and texture. They’ll remember red and yellow are primary colors, and make the secondary color of orange (a warm color). They’ll remember that red is the other primary color. They’ll learn that blue and green are cold colors.
- grade 2’s have a design challenge to draw a turkey using a limited palette of colors. After the art lesson, they will identify and document their strengths and areas for improvement as creators of art. Using the ‘one star/one wish’ approach, ask students to tell what’s interesting about what they’ve produced, identifying what they’ve done well (they write ‘star’ by that statement), then they identify something they could have improved on (they give themselves a ‘wish’ for that statement).
- both grade 1’s and 2’s will learn a little bit more about the parts of a turkey. (see below)
- Fabric paint, at least 4 oz for each student, with lots of brown, with smaller amounts of yellow and red (orange made by mixing yellow and red), plus a few bottles of black paint that can be used by students to print their name at bottom right like an “artist” does. (Black paint will NOT be used with paintbrushes. It’s nozzle will be used like a pen for eye dots and artist’s signature.)
- Plastic lids from margarine tubs, yogurt tubs, or coffee or hot chocolate cans (to put fabric paint on because when dry it peels off and can be used for other art activities, like light catchers, or stained-glass windows…).
- color wheel (can already be colored in, or color it as you talk about primary colors, secondary colors, warm colors and cold colors)
- small, cheap watercolor paintbrushes (10/$1)
- 4 small google eyes (paint black dot underneath in case “eye” comes off), optional
- set of 4 cloth napkins for each student (if student’s family is small, they can give the extra napkins away to G’ma and G’pa)
- masking tape to label napkins with student’s name
- notebooks or writing journals, for Grade 2’s to use after lesson for their ‘one star/one wish’ writing activity (what they did well/what they need to improve upon)
- turkey drawing with labeled parts, either as overhead transparency (you fill in parts, one at a time), or as a poster
- small copies of the turkey, with blank spaces for labeling turkey parts, for each turkey: Turkey Picture Handout (PDF), Turkey Worksheet Answers (PDF) can be enlarged for poster or transparency use for teacher)
- Days before this art class, have napkins folded into quarters and EITHER have parent trace child’s hand on one side of 4 inexpensive cloth napkins with pencil or pen, sending them to school before the art lesson (LABELED with child’s name on masking tape at top of each napkin), OR you or an assistant call students aside when able to trace their hand onto cloth napkins. (Choice: you buy bulk cloth napkins and parents reimburse you, school buys them from petty cash, or parents send in 4 cloth napkins to use in this activity.)
- Beginning of class, talk about primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and how we make secondary colors. Show color wheel and label red and orange as WARM colors and blue and green as COLD colors. Talk about WARM things and COLD things, making a list on the board. Talk about how COLD colors have blue in them and the more blue, the COLDER the color; and the more red, the WARMER the color. Yellow makes things warmer too. Orange has both, so it’s very WARM. Green is COLD, so if a green has a lot of blue in it, it’s COLDER.
- Explain that their hand is the shape of the turkey, with the thumb being the neck and head and the other fingers are the feathers, with the palm being the body. Legs and feet will be added later with the paintbrushes. The body will be brown, feathers will be yellow, orange and red, with orange feet. The bottle of black will be used to make a dot for the eye and as a pen to “sign” their artwork, like artists do in the lower corner. Put one google eye on each turkey face (optional), on top of the black dot. (I do an example of the art for them.)
- Next, show students the poster or projector transparency of the turkey picture with the labelled parts. Give out a Turkey Picture Handout (PDF) to each student with the blank spaces for the labeled parts. Talk about the different parts and have students label their turkey, one part at a time (“find #3 and write the word eye”), after you talk about it, until their pictures are fully labeled. Glue pictures in writing book. (These can be used later to help students draw their own turkey to illustrate a story about a runaway Thanksgiving turkey, etc.)
- Encourage students to begin their turkey painting. “Sign” art when finished.
- Both grade 1 and 2 use same number of colors, but grade 2’s have a design challenge to draw a turkey using this limited palette of colors. After the art lesson, explain to grade 2’s that they will need to identify and document their strengths and areas for improvement as creators of art, in their writing journals. Using the ‘one star/one wish’ approach, ask students to tell what’s interesting about what they’ve produced, identifying what they’ve done well (they write ‘star’ by that statement), then they identify something they could have improved on (they give themselves a ‘wish’ for that statement). Grade 1’s can be encouraged to do this as well. Both can use their turkey drawing to help them illustrate their writing.
Turkey Picture Handout (PDF)
Turkey Worksheet Answers (PDF):
- tail fan – long, colorful tail feathers
- caruncle – red-pink growth on the head and upper neck
- eye – two eyes and excellent vision
- bill – a beak used to get food, like insects, worms, fruit, seeds, acorns, grains, slugs, snails, etc.
- snood – the flap of skin that hangs over the beak
- wattle – bright red skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck, cools bird (blood flows close to surface here and is cooled).
- beard – a group of long, thin, hairy feathers on the chest of male turkeys
- spur on leg – like a horn on the back of their lower leg; they have 3 toes and a thumb.
Tags: cold color, elements of design, identify improvements, identify strengths, primary colours, secondary colors, Thanksgiving, warm color