Creative Classrooms: Let’s Talk Turkey!

A Thanksgiving Riddle:  When is a turkey not a turkey? 

Answer:  When it’s a dragon, or a football player, or a peacock or a painting! 

On a recent Monday morning at the Colt-Andrews Elementary School in Bristol, kindergartners were given a black-and-white drawing of a turkey and an intriguing assignment – to disguise their turkeys so the Thanksgiving chef wouldn’t be able to find them in time to prepare the holiday meal!  The children were encouraged to bring their turkeys home and use their imaginations and whatever materials they could get their hands on to camouflage their birds, and to bring them back to class as soon as they were done to share with their classmates.

As the dressed turkeys began to trickle back into the classrooms, the children were inspired by their fellow student’s work – one “sheep” led to another and another until a small flock had gathered on the walls!  Some turkeys had been colored with crayons, some had been painted, and still others had been covered with tulle, or feathers, or glitter, or sequins.  One even peeked out timidly from behind the numbered blocks of a calendar page.

When all the turkeys had returned, the kindergartners went on a gallery walk to each other’s classrooms to see what they had all accomplished.  We were lucky enough to visit the school and talk with the kids about their turkeys, and the children’s enthusiasm for this project was hard to contain!  They told us that working on this project made them feel happy, that it made them laugh, that they liked being able to use their imaginations and disguise their turkeys however they wanted.  A little boy named Nil said that he made his turkey look like a football player by drawing a helmet on its head.  Brenna, a quiet little girl, spoke up to tell us that she modeled her turkey on her pet dog at home.  They said they enjoyed watching the turkeys come back to class one by one, and looked forward to putting them up on the walls for everyone to see.  A little boy named Nathan said he liked Tommy’s turkey, disguised as a dragon.  And a soft-spoken little girl told us that she was surprised by the turkey rock-star a fellow student had made.  Over sixty kindergartners gathered that day to tell us that they thought they all did a good job, and we agree!  We’re proud of you, kids!

We love this kind of open-ended assignment, the kind that teaches our children that sometimes there’s more than one solution to a problem.  We also cheer for schoolwork that encourages our children to exercise their creativity and then celebrates every child’s contribution, teaching them that we each have something valuable to offer.  And we’re thrilled when a teacher finds a way to incorporate some F-U-N into the learning of the day!  In the assessment-driven world of school, “fun” is too often underestimated and set aside.  But including “the fun” is a simple yet powerful tool a teacher can use to plant a lifelong love of learning in every child’s mind, a critical trait to nurture as our children progress through elementary into middle and then high school, and one that will enrich their quality of life as adults.  We applaud the teacher who goes the extra mile to bring creative learning into the classroom.  Bravo!

This Thanksgiving, we are grateful for all those teachers in Bristol and Warren who are bringing creative project-learning, and fun, into their classrooms, and we are grateful for the administrators who support them!  Special thanks to the Colt-Andrews kindergarten teachers, Mrs. Aleicho, Mrs. Arruda, and Ms. Cheatom, for welcoming us into their classrooms last week.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Is there something exciting and creative going on in your child’s classroom?  Leave a comment telling us about it, or write to us through the Contact Us page – we’d love to hear from you!

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