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How to Make a Vibrant Thanksgiving Turkey Centerpiece

How to Make a Vibrant Thanksgiving Turkey Centerpiece

Thanks for joining us again for another free lesson from Golden Road Arts, showcasing how kids can create art at home with simple art supplies and household materials. The last time we were here, we showed how to make playdough with items from the kitchen.

In this lesson, Barbara Mason will demonstrate how to make a colorful Thanksgiving centerpiece for the table.

Design Your Own Thanksgiving Turkey Centerpiece Video

Learn how to turn simple art supplies into a colorful Thanksgiving turkey paper plate design. Get creative for the holidays using tempera paints and other household items.

Materials Required for Thanksgiving Turkey Art

  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Tempera paints
  • Cotton balls
  • Glue
  • Construction paper – red, brown and yellow

También en Español:

Centro de mesa para día de Acción de Gracias Video

¿Qué necesitamos?

  • platos de papel
  • tijeras
  • pintura tempera
  • algodón
  • pegamento
  • papel de construcción: rojo, café y amarillo

If you missed it, here’s our lesson on how to make moose antlers.

Read How to Design a Thanksgiving Turkey

Follow the transcript below and see how Barbara transforms a paper plate into a fun Thanksgiving turkey. Copy Barbara’s design or add some colors of your own.

This is Barbara Mason, and today we’re going to talk a little bit about a very special holiday that’s coming up – Thanksgiving. And it’s a day when we’re thankful for everything we have.
For our nice house and our food and that everything is pretty nice in our world. Now, it’s not nice for everybody, but for most people it’s pretty nice. And we’re just moving forward and hoping things are going to be OK.

But I want to talk about the very first Thanksgiving, and we’re going to make a little turkey here that looks like this. Thanksgiving seems to be a time when we all eat turkey. And I like Turkey, and so I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving, and to having a nice Turkey dinner. So, the very first Thanksgiving there were some Puritans, they were called Puritans and they were Protestant people from Europe, and they broke away from the Church of England and they first went to Holland. And they just weren’t happy in Holland, and so they decided to go even further and they, got on a boat and they decided they would head to the New World. And it was very, very long time ago –let’s see, oh my gosh, 400 years. A really long time ago.

And they decided that they would be on this boat, and they traveled for 66 days across the ocean. Can you imagine being on a boat for 66 days going across the ocean? And this wasn’t a boat like we think of our cruise ships. This was pretty rough traveling. They didn’t have any fresh food by the time they got to the New World, and they were running out of everything, and they were just very, very grateful to come to land. And there was a big storm. They had planned to land up about around New York, but there was a big storm and so they ended up in Massachusetts. Near a place now call Cape Cod. And they were very, very grateful to be in the New World and to have a place to call their own after their long sea voyage. And so, they met the some of the local Indians. Now the Indians were called the Wampanoag Indians and the Indians were very kind to them and they taught them how to use fish for fertilizer for their crops and how to grow corn. And the corn was something that they didn’t have particularly in England and so they were really grateful to be able to have this corn.

And it must have been a hard thing, but they were so happy to be in the New World and to be able to celebrate their lives in a way that they hadn’t been able to do in England. They made friends with the Wampanoag Indians, and after they had been there a couple of years, they decided that they would have a big celebration, to be thankful for what they had had, that what they had done. And their wonderful new place that they lived. They had rifles with them, and they were out shooting and trying to hunt, to find deer or maybe even a wild turkey that they could have for their feast, for their celebration.

And so, the Indians heard this, these guns going off and they thought they were, they thought there was a war, an attack or something. So, the chief sent 200 Braves to see what was going on. And then when they found out that the settlers were hunting to have a feast and have a big celebration, they decided that they would have the celebration with them. And so, they brought deer and pheasants and turkeys and corn, and they had a big feast. Now today, of course, we have a lot of different food on Thanksgiving. We have a lot of fresh food. I don’t think they had a lot of fresh food then, but it must have been very, very hard for them, but they were just so grateful. They were so grateful to have this wonderful new life, that they wanted to celebrate it.

And so, in in 1863, President Lincoln decided that he would have a national holiday for Thanksgiving. And there were actually two Thanksgivings. So, one was in August, to celebrate the Battle of Gettysburg from the war between the States and the second one was in November. And November is the holiday that we celebrate this year and every year since 1863. I don’t think we celebrate the one in August anymore, but we certainly do celebrate the one in November. So, we’re grateful to President Lincoln for giving us Thanksgiving and we can remember all the things that we’re thankful for in our own life.

So, we’re going to make a Turkey today. And this little Turkey is pretty easy to do and he’s very cute. So, the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to have a paper plate. And this is just a paper plate. You know, now some of the plates are very, very strong. This is just an old-fashioned one that’s not very strong. And so, what we’re going to do, we’re going to measure down this plate. To the middle, and then we’re going to go a little bit further down, so maybe about 2/3 of the way down, and we’re going to take our scissors and we’re going to go like this, and we’re going to cut across the edge to the center like that, and we’re going to go on the other side in about the same place, we’re going to do the same thing. So now we have our plate cut and then we’re going to go on the back like this and we’re going to fold it up. And so, what’s going to happen is when we fold it up. Then when we stand it up, it’s going to stand up. The back part of the plate looks like this and it’s going to hold the front of the plate up.

So, now what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the back part of our turkey – the feathers – and we’re going to do that with some tempera paint and my paint brush here is a cotton ball. Or a pompom, this is a pompom, but it works pretty well and so we’re going to use the tempera paint. I have it in these little jars. I work with a lot of kids, and I use it a lot and so I just had these little jars that squirt it out when I need it. And then these little things that keep it closed, they don’t work all that well. Sometimes they don’t work at all. And so, a lot of times I will use a Q-tip and I’ll just stick a Q-tip in the top of these bottles, too. To make them close, I cut it in half, and I use a Q-tip for that. So, we’re going to have a little orange and a little. Yellow. A Little red and then I’m going to use some blue and some e green. And you would think, well, those aren’t very good colors really for a turkey, but I think it looks OK. So, you know when you make brown. If you use orange and green, you’re going to get brown. Now there. I put my Q-tip back in there to keep that closed. Some of these lids just don’t work very well. OK, there’s a green. And we’re going to get the blue.

And so, this is tempera paint. You can buy this at any art supply store. This particular tempera paint I bought at Dick Blick. We buy a lot of products from Dick Blick. They’re very helpful to us at Dick Blick and sometimes they give us really good sales. So, we’re going to start, I think we’re going to start on the bottom, and I think we’ll start with the blue. So, you just dip it in there, you just dip it in the paint and then just kind of splotch it on. And I’m going to do the blue and green on the bottom and then when I work up. I’m going to do the other colors. So, you can just do it anyway you will, like it doesn’t matter how you do it, but you want to try to get your spots all the way out to the edge. You notice that I’ve got a piece of white paper here. This is just a piece of newsprint, newspaper paper and I’m using so that I don’t get paint all over the table because, you know, this is pretty messy. So, now let me think. I think maybe the next color I’m going to do is orange. Orange is a very Thanksgiving color. I think it’s because all the leaves turn orange this time of year. And so, we always think of Thanksgiving. We kind of think of it as being orange and brown. So, these are kind of the Thanksgiving colors. Let’s see. I’m just really splotching it on here, not being too careful. We’re going to use our yellow. I’m kind of doing the lighter colors toward the top. So yellow is a warm color, a sun color. We’ll do it toward the top. Now what don’t I have? Did I miss? Oh, I didn’t do red, yes. So red is always a good color to do, we’ll just add a little bit of red here and there, not too much, just a little bit. OK, so now we have the back of our turkey done. And we’re going to let this dry. And so, while we let it dry, I’m just going to lay it out flat here while it dries.

And then we’re going to cut out our turkey. So, to do this, you need, red construction paper, yellow construction paper and brown construction paper. This paper I have, I don’t know if this is construction paper or not. It feels a little smoother, but we’re going to just get a piece here that’s about the size that we would want our turkey to be. And so, we’re going to think Snowman. So, we’re going to cut a round circle for the bottom. Like it was a snowman and then a round circle for the head. Crooked. So, this is your work. So, you can make it look any way you want, and you can say, oh, maybe I’ll make it a little skinnier. Maybe I don’t want my turkey so rat. Well, it looks pretty good. So now what we need is a little red piece for his nose. Turkeys have this. I don’t know what this is called this thing through their nose, but they have this. It’s a little big, but they have this little thing that goes right here, and it comes off of their nose. And so, what I’m going to do is I have a tacky glue. This is kind of a thick glue. And it works really well to glue paper, and we’re going to glue some googly eyes on here, so we need some thick glue to do that. And I leave it upside down because it wants to stick on the bottom. So, then I’m going to use a Q-tip to put the glue on. So, I’m going to take my little piece of this little nose thing here and we’ll dip our Q-tip in the. Where? And we’ll put that just to the side of his nose like that. Then we’re going to take our orange and we’re going to do two things with the orange we’re going to make them a beak. Let’s see how big do we want his beak? We’re going to make a little triangle for his beak. So, a triangle has three sides. So, we’ll put our glue on the beak. And we’ll stick our beak on his face right like that. Come on, beak, get around here. So, until the glue is dry, it’s pretty easy to move things. Once it’s dry, it’s not so easy. Now I’ve got my two googly eyes here, and so googly eyes are really fun. And we’re going to give two googly eyes to our turkey. So, we’ll just put a little glue right there and then we’re going to put the eyes on. He looks pretty cute once you get his eyes on. The eyes are really important now. The other thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to make him some feet because we want him to be able to stand up. so let’s see how long it’s feet. I think you said you were going to cut two pieces of paper that are rectangles. So, a rectangle has two sides the same and two sides the same. So, it looks like a long square. And then we’re going to make feet that are more like a bird’s feet. You know, sometimes I see turkeys and they’ve made feet that look like ducks, that kind of webbed feet. And turkeys don’t have that kind of feet. They have feet, more like a chicken. So. I’m cutting these both together because I want them to look the same and you can do them one at a time if that’s easier for you. OK, so now I’m going to fold this. About like that. Let me get my turkey feet here. I’m going to fold this like this. Then I’m going to turn my turkey over and I need to be careful that his eyes don’t fall off when you do this, I’m going to turn him over. And I’m going to glue these feet right here on the back of him, so that they stick out the front. So, you want them to bend that way. If they’re sticking out the back, they’ll probably still hold them up and they’ll look pretty funny. You know you can do your art any way you want, but if you do it too strange. If you do it too strange, everybody will think it’s funny. We don’t want people to think our work is funny. OK, there we go. So, there’s our little Turkey. He’s got his feet sticking out here and he’s ready to go.

Now the problem is, we can’t really stick him on to our painted surface yet because it’s not dry. So, we’ll do that in a minute. But I want to show you what happened with my turkey. So, when I picked it up to bring it in here. To glue it on, the paper plate was kind of strange. It was kind of wrinkled and I think when it got wet it did that. So, I just took it with my fingers like this and I just kind of folded it back so that it was all going the same way. So, I just kind of bent the plate. So, you can see the back of it in the front of it so that it stood up straight because we don’t want our turkey looking funny. So. when this is dry, which won’t take too long, but it’s going to take a little while, it’s a little too soon to put the turkey on. When this is dry, it’ll look like his feathers, and he’ll be right here in the front of it. But we can’t glue him on quite yet, so we’ll just have to let this dry.

So., I hope that you make turkeys like this and that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you eat Turkey – or whatever you have for your dinner – and that everybody likes your turkeys that you make. This is a very easy and fun project. All you need is a little paint, some paper plates and some colored paper and I think you can do this. Thank you for coming to see me at Golden Road. I’m Barbara Mason and I hope you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving.

Watch More Free Art Lessons From Golden Road Arts

Golden Road Arts develops educational and engaging art lessons for kids at home or in the classroom. We also host live art events for children in the Oregon area. To take a look at our tutorials, watch our free art lessons now. Please also consider supporting us with a donation.

Barbara Mason from Golden Road Arts paints a turkey design

Barbara Mason cuts out a turkey centerpiece graphic

Barbara Mason delivers a lesson on Thanksgiving turkey art

Finished version of Golden Road Arts Thanksgiving turkey art

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