The Great Turkey Hunt is a game I came up with while teaching my Kindergarten class one Thanksgiving. It is appropriate for children aged three years to first grade, but can be adapted to fit any age group. The idea of the game is to include what they have learned about the Pilgrims, the Indians, and the actual Thanksgiving feast that happened between them. We spend week before Thanksgiving on daily lessons covering who the Indians were and their culture, where the Pilgrims came from and why they moved so far from home, and what wildlife lived in the area where the first Thanksgiving took place.
Learning about the First Thanksgiving
We read books like: Pilgrims First Thanksgiving , The Very First Thanksgiving Day (Book), Caillou’s Happy Thanksgiving, Thanks for Thanksgiving, Ten Fat Turkeysand visited the National Geographic Kids website to get the children excited about the holiday. We turn math into pumpkin pie addition and subtraction, science into learning about turkeys and other forest animals that the Natives used as a food source, and language becomes a mix of English woods translated into the language of the Wampanoag people.
The Monday before Thanksgiving Day, we make our paper Indian and pilgrim costumes. This is the highlight for November in my class. They will wear their paper costumes while playing the Great Turkey Hunt game. On Tuesday they make noodle necklaces to “exchange” as gifts just like the Native Americans did with the Pilgrims. By Wednesday of Thanksgiving week the class is prepared for the Great Turkey Hunt. This is a great game for this day because many schools let out early for the Thanksgiving holiday.
How to Play the Great Turkey Hunt
Have your class dress in their Indian and Pilgrim costumes. Divide them into two groups (Indians and Pilgrims) and have them set on opposite sides of the long “Thanksgiving Feast” table. Explain to the children that they have come together because the Indians want to share their food because winter is coming and the Pilgrims didn’t have enough to eat. The only problem is that the turkey has gone missing!
The “turkey” has left clues behind as it went into hiding. Before the day of the game I had another teacher dress up in a turkey costume. I took photos of the “turkey” reading a book, playing on the playground, sitting in class, ect, to include with each clue note left for the children. I used card stock cut outs of chicken feet prints to lead us to our “clues”. While the children were dressing up, my assistant placed the prints in the hallway in a confusing pattern as to where both groups would have to take a different path to find the “turkey”.
Once the groups are split up searching for the “turkey” they will look for other “turkey feet prints” on doors, windows, objects, ect; where they will find a note with a photo left by the “turkey leading them to the next clue.
Examples of the notes are: “Gobble gobble, you can’t catch me! I’m too busy reading ‘I can count to three’.”-ask the children where the turkey could be reading a book… the library! Go to the library to find the next clue. Or, “Gobble gobble, Mrs. (teacher’s name)’s class is so much fun. I think I’ll go learn about the warm hot sun’.”- have a desk turned on its side with a few feathers lying around it when the children go to investigate to make it look like the turkey had been there. The more creative you get with each clue station, the more fun the game becomes for the children.
The last clue should give them a riddle about a great feast. It should lead both groups back to their classroom at the same time. There are no winners or losers to this game… unless you are talking about the turkey, lol.
While the children have been out on the Great Turkey Hunt, their long “Thanksgiving Feast” table has been set for lunch by the cafeteria staff or parent volunteer. They will come back into the classroom and see the feast awaiting them!
This is such a fun game. My students never get tired of playing it. It can be adapted to fit almost any holiday or event by changing the costumes, clues, and ending result (the feast). It also works great for the story of the Little Gingerbread Boy.