Image of the final project, a paper turkey with colorful tail feathers, a small window in it's belly that reveals a consenant before a vowel and another consenant appear on the turkey's belly that are fixed or written directly on the bird beside the window.

Early Reader Thanksgiving AT-Word Turkey

It’s time to talk Turkey with a great little craft that teaches early readers CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words. We use turkey tail feathers, a short and silly story, and the rhythm of rhyming words found with CVC word groups to both begin and evolve our early reader capabilities. I would recommend this project for any early reader from preschool to kindergarten and exceptional learners because the moving wheel adds a touch of sensory application.

The Turkey tail feathers were perfect for “AT” words because we had room for eight beginning consonants with one letter for each feather. However, this craft is flexible and could easily be modified to be used with “IT”, “OG”, “ON”, and more CVC, CVCC, and  CCVC combinations. The “AT” words fit nicely, but were also part of our recent introduction to Seeing, Sounding, and Saying (SSS) lesson. As I list the instructions for this activity, I will add more information to further explain “SSS.”

This craft can be accomplished with fewer steps, but for our first attempt I chose the method with the most supplies and prep required. The age group for this version has not yet mastered cutting out shapes with scissors, so I made it a quick paste together project for them by cutting everything out ahead of time. However, if used with an older group of kids it would be great for having them complete more of the steps on their own.

Image of supplies used for craft

Materials I used to complete this activity:

  • Colored construction paper (4 colors for the tail feathers, better to use lighter colors because the darkest color I used is not as easy to read)
  • Brown construction paper for turkey body
  • Orange construction paper for beak and feet
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Brass paper fasteners (I found best price at
  • Pencil (and if preferred, use a black marker for more visible letters and outline)
  • Ruler
  • Optional googly eyes and whatever else you have in your craft space to decorate or personalize for the kids

Click on the text the link here :  or TurkeyBody for a free download of the body of the turkey to use as template to trace or feel free to draw by hand.

For the Turkey tail feathers use this link: or TailFeathers

For the Turkey beak and feet use this link: or TurkeyBeakFeet

The PDF can be used or a freehand drawing works just as well. However, this is when the ruler helps or would be required. If attempting to free hand draw your turkey body and tail feathers be sure to measure the body to keep the circle of tail feathers slightly larger than the body so that the tail feathers are in view or sticking out at the top and so you have something to grasp to spin the tail feathers.

First, I cut out templates so I could trace out multiple bodies, tail feathers, beaks and feet because I needed to make at least 4 turkeys for my group.

Second, I cut the tail feather wheel into individual sections so I could trace them onto the four different colored pieces of construction paper, making sure that each tail feather had two of the same color. The reason I wanted two of each color was to use the opportunity to create a pattern that the kids could follow.

After, I had cut out the tail feathers and the circle (seen above in purple) the kids and I used the glue sticks and glued the tail feathers to the circle (which I also used in my lesson to talk about pie sections.) I ordered the first four and had my group tell me which color comes next to complete the pattern with the other four.

Image of colored tail feathers set in a pattern and glued in place in a circle shape.

I cut out the turkey beaks and feet from the orange construction paper and the body of the turkey from the brown construction paper. I had the kids glue the feet and beak in place on the turkey body.

Image of turkey body with child's hand applying glue to turkey feet and beak to adhere them to the body.

I decided that I wanted to add sticky laminating paper to the final product to get it to last a little longer because the paper I used was very thin and would tear easily during the final lesson for this activity. For this reason, I did not attach the eyes at this time. I just had the kids finish up with the glue sticks and allowed them to take a break and free play while I moved on to the next step.

I needed to make a pin hole in the body of the turkey and the turkey tail feather wheel. To do this and be sure they would line up, I placed the tail wheel where I wanted it to for the final product, against the backside of the turkey body and on a hard surface. Then, using my pencil I pressed a dent into the middle of the the back of the wheel with enough effort to see the dent in the body of the turkey. I then popped a pin size hole using the tip of my scissors in both the tail feather wheel and the turkey body.

I used the pin hole for the paper fastener and for a point of reference to place the window view of the first consonant in the CVC word. Using my pencil, I firmly sketched a small square about a half inch below the pinhole. Because I was pressing firmly with the pencil and using thin paper, the pencil lines started to tear through the paper which made it easy to pop out the square of paper and create the window view.


At this point, I was ready to fasten together my tail feather wheel to my turkey. I used sticky laminating paper to protect and strengthen the turkey and tail feather wheel before I attached the two together, but this step is not necessary. Finally, I was able to spin the tail freely and see the various colors of the tail passing through the window view. I used the black marker to write the first consonant inside the view on each color. The eight letters include, “B, C, F, H, M, P, R, and S”. Then, I wrote “AT” directly on the body of the turkey.

The last step before making up a silly story and practicing “Seeing, Sounding, and Saying” the words, my kids still needed to glue on the googly eyes. This step could be done early when the kids are putting the turkey together if this project is done without laminating sheets or if the templates were printed on white paper, cut out, colored with crayons or markers and glued and pieced together…..

Finally, to teach the “AT” words or CVC words we used, I asked the kids to first tell me the the names of the letters they see. Then, they were to tell me what is the sound for each letter they see. Saying the word made from the letters was the last step. However, it took several attempts. The kids needed to sound out the letters slowly at first and then speed up. As the kids sped up with the letter sounds, they were asked to listen carefully and tell me the word the sounds made together.

After we had gone over all eight words, seeing, sounding, and saying the word, we made up a short and silly story to help us recall the words. Many stories could come from these words but the kids and I came up with this one:

“The FAT turkey SAT on a MAT. Along came his friend PAT, who was a RAT and wanted to play ball, so he brought his BAT. PAT the RAT and the FAT turkey on the MAT invited the CAT wearing a HAT.”

I hope this is of good use and helps many early readers to learn “AT” words for Thanksgiving. It would give me a great reason to give thanks this holiday.

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