leaf turkey, Thanksgiving, craft, Crunchy Moms, arts, crafts, crunchy, holidays, leaves, crunchy mom, pine cone

Ever have grand ideas for a craft, but your kids’ have a completely different creative vision?  That’s what happened to me this time.  Luckily, instead of forcing my idea as correct, I’ve learned to relax and let my kids lead their own art.

Waiting for the bus the other morning, my daughter handed me a few fallen maple leaves.  The bouquet immediately reminded me of a turkey tail.  Thus, the idea for this craft was born.

What you need:

  • a bunch of leaves
  • one medium pine cone
  • two google eyes
  • white liquid glue
  • scissors
  • large piece of heavy construction paper or poster board
  • plate
  • foam paint brush
  • a heavy book (optional)

My plan to make a turkey:

  1. Gather your materials outside with your kids.  My kids loved finding leaves and handing them to me.  We collected only maple leaves, but you could use a variety.  If leaves aren’t plentiful where you live (or you’ve already raked them up), a fun way to make some is to paint sheets of paper in autumn colors, then cut out the shapes.  There are leaf templates on line to help with the shapes.
  2. If you don’t plan to make the craft right away, press your leaves in a large book so that they don’t curl and crumble.  Also, clean any water, dirt, and bugs off your materials.  A spider ran out of my pine cone as I glued it down!
  3. Cut the stems off the leaves.  A child learning to use scissors could help with this step.
  4. Let your child help pour glue on a plate.  The squeezing is great for fine motor strengthening.
  5. Help your child glue leaves on the paper to form the feathered turkey tail.  I liked brushing the glue on the leaves, but both my kids liked brushing it on the paper.
  6. Glue on a pine cone to make the turkey’s body and head.  You might need that heavy book again to press it down as it dries.
  7. Break and position leaf stems to make the legs and feet.
  8. Glue on eyes.

The Kids’ Ideas:

  • My two year old son didn’t want to make a turkey.  So he made a leaf collage.
  • My daughter didn’t want to fan out the leaves.  She saw the body parts in the leaves and arranged them accordingly.
  • My daughter said her turkey was pecking seeds so we added some popcorn kernels to her picture.


  • Read a book about leaves.  Check out Leaf Man by Lois Elhert and Look What I Did with a Leaf! by Morteza E. Sohi.  Both feature art made out of leaves.
  • Work together to sort the leaves by size, shape, or color.  Throw the leaves into the air to mix them up again, then sort by a different characteristic.
  • Ask your child to sequence some leaves by size.
  • Name your turkey.  If your child is very young, write the name as you spell it aloud.  Older children can practice writing it.
  • Create a story about your turkey together.  Write the story down and post it with the turkey.  Invite your child to “read” the story to holiday guests, or have guests read the story to your child.
  • Estimate how many leaves you used, then count them.  Discuss the difference.
  • Feel the leaves; compare and contrast the textures.
  • Ask you child to trace a leaf’s veins with a fingertip.  Compare these to our bodies.
  • Watch the president pardon a turkey.  Or maybe just some videos of turkeys gobbling.
  • Read a story about turkeys and Thanksgiving like Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey, Turkey Trouble by Wendy Silvano, or Gus, the the Pilgrim Turkey by Teresa Bateman.
  • Talk about the letter T.  Brainstorm words that start with or contain T.  Can you string them into a story or poem?
  • Label the parts of the turkey’s body.  Talk about which ones only birds have and what parts people have that they don’t.  Which body parts make the turkey a bird?