Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkeys Visit the Classroom . . . a turkey mini unit

Three weeks before Thanksgiving break my amazing team decided to do a turkey mini unit.  We didn't have much time to prepare but one of us (not me) had a turkey pictorial that we all used.  We only had 2 weeks (of 4 days each) and half of us were going to be gone for training for three days the last week, so really we only have 5 days for our unit.  But, we made it work and used this turkey pictorial and some turkey pages we had on hand. 
The pictorial took my class three days.  The first day we drew (by we I mean I drew - they watched) the turkey and then we talked about the tail feathers and looked up pictures of real turkeys online.  We talked about what turkey tails really look like but they decided to make them colorful for fun.  Then we wrote and talked about the appearance and diet.  We also talked about wild and domesticated turkeys.  We looked up pictured of domestic turkeys online. 

On day two we wrote and talked about family and interesting facts.  We looked up male and female birds and talked about how they look different and why they look the way they do.  They we decided that this turkey was a boy so we labeled him "male turkey (tom)".

On day three we labeled the parts of the turkey.  I should have done this on day one but didn't. 

Thanks to twitter, I got the name of a turkey farmer from Elk Grove and e-mailed the farm bureau for his contact info.  It sure is a small world we live in because my e-mail was answered by his wife (and co-farmer).  I was so excited that she was able to come out so our classes could come take a look at a real live turkey. 

Her name is Charlotte and she brought three hens.  They were much smaller than the toms we saw at the Ag in the Classroom conference and she explained that these hens are for Christmas dinner so they are not ready to harvest yet.

She was AMAZING!!  I asked her a million questions and she was so great about answering them all.  It felt like I was talking to a friend not someone I just met.

She did four ten minute presentations.  Mine was last and it was perfect.  She was very engaging.   
She talked about the feed.  Which was perfect since we learned what wild turkeys eat. 

The turkeys just hung out.

Then she answered questions from the kids.

And she let the kids pet the hens.

Some of the kids were afraid of the hen (even my student who has chickens at home).

She let them take a close look (and smell) the feed. 

The other class left and my kids got a little too excited wanting to touch the tukey and pick up the feathers from the ground.  All the while Charolette was answering questions and being amazing. 

She even gave us the newspaper "What's Growing On" which is available here if you want to order copies.  This newspaper is a much higher level than my students can read but they still went through it pointing out all the agriculture in the newspaper - it was pretty cute!  It was a nice thing to pull activities from and to help the students bring that ag connection home to their families. 

Charlotte was AMAZING!  It is hard to describe but she got it - she got exactly what the teachers wanted the kids to get out of the visit.  She answered question after question after question.  She was perfect and thank you Jake and Ray for the suggestion!

I was at training the next three days, so I didn't do a home/school connection - but, it would have been fun for the kids to go home and talk with their parents about what they learned then tell the class about it the next day.  For next year, I want to order the DVD and posters from the Iowa Turkey Federation.  It is for grades 9-12 but I am sure I can adapt it to fit our needs.  There is also a Thanksgiving unit from the California Poultry Federation that I want to order for next year.  I will need to e-mail and ask about it.   

If you are a teacher, what did you do for Thanksgiving?  If not, what do you think of this mini unit? 

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