Plump and Perfect Decoys: Design Day in Kindergarten by Robin Caldwell

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K. Smith School Design Day – Solving Turkey Troubles

As a 21st century teacher at Katherine Smith Elementary School, we are always looking for new ways to embed the 21st century skills our students need to be college bound and career ready.  Design Day is a great opportunity to give students the chance to collaborate, communicate, and create.

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Kindergartners working in partner learning to be good collaborators.

The challenge in Kindergarten is introducing and scaffolding the skills of collaboration and communication.  The easy part is letting the Kindergartners create – they are naturals!  So, how did we accomplish this today?

We began the day with the story, A Plump and Perky Turkey, by Teresa Bateman.  The people in Squawk Valley have no turkeys to eat for Thanksgiving.  They decide to have an arts and crafts day and invite a turkey to model for their turkey creations.  Of course, they plan to eat the turkey, but Pete the turkey has another idea.  After Pete models for the artists as they make their creations, he hides among the turkey art so he can get away.

We challenged our students to create a turkey art so Pete can hide and not be eaten.  Yesterday, we completed a turkey label worksheet so we already knew the parts of the turkey for our project today.

Because they are learning how to collaborate and communicate, we began by putting students into pairs to create one turkey together.  Having to make decisions with just one friend is much easier than trying to make decisions with more than one friend.  It also allows both students to be heard.  

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Next, we looked at images of various turkey crafts so students could get some ideas.  We showed turkeys made of water bottles, cups, pinecones, socks, toilet paper rolls, etc.  Some of these turkeys had craft feathers and some were made of construction paper.  We also talked about how the turkey legs, feet, wings, snood and wattle were made on the crafts.

Once the students had some craft ideas, each student was asked to tell their partner  which turkey they liked best and why.  They shared what they liked best about that turkey craft.  For example, Gabriel said, “I like the construction paper feathers” to his partner.  Clara, Jade, and Doris (the only partner set of three due to an odd number of students in class) all agreed they liked the pinecone turkey the best.  As they discussed the parts of the turkey they wanted to use, we made a list for them to go choose from our supply table.  When they were ready, they filled a tray with the supplies they needed.

Creating the craft was the easy part.  With a little help from the teachers with the glue and the tape, the students made their turkey models.  The highlight of the day was our gallery walk when we got to see all of the great turkeys made by the class.

During our class debrief, I asked students if it was easy or hard to collaborate.  In unison, they agreed it was hard.  Brianna explained, “It was hard when we wanted to make the turkey with different things.”  But, they also agreed that they had a lot of fun working together, too.

Elizabeth said, “I liked working with a partner, but we can’t take it home because we only made one.”  Luckily, a photo in their class memory book will help them remember their turkey model.

We hope you enjoy seeing our turkey models, and we wish you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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