Teaching Gestures…Thanksgiving Therapy Tip of the Week 11.16.17

mr turkey

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!

But holidays are usually an abstract concept for young children to understand, even those who are talking!

We can still introduce seasonal therapy activities that incorporate new thematic vocabulary while keeping it on a developmentally-appropriate level for toddlers with language delays. Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving ideas for toddlers.

Let’s begin with a song! I’ve loved this little one for the last 15 years or so! I’ve used it at circle time for groups of toddlers and taught it to many daycare teachers. I’ve  even used it during individual sessions in my office as well as in homes with moms and my little friends. Sing it to the tune of “If You’re Happy and  You Know It”

Mr. Turkey Song

Hello Mr. Turkey, how are you, how are you? (Clap twice)

Hello Mr. Turkey how are you, how are you? (Clap twice)

Your mouth says “Gobble, gobble.” (Point to mouth)

And your feet wobble, wobble. (Point to feet)

Hello Mr. Turkey how are you how are you? (Clap twice)

Isn’t that cute?

Since turkey is likely a new word for most toddlers, introduce the song with a picture. I like to use several pictures of turkeys, photographs of real turkeys on the farm, cartoon turkeys we see so often this time of year, and even pictures of cooked turkeys like the one a child may see on his table for Thanksgiving dinner.

Expansion Ideas

Add one (or ALL) of the next few activities and you’ve extended opportunities for a child to learn and remember the new word “turkey.” Here are some EASY and CHEAP ideas I rely on every year:

My favorite set of plastic foods includes a pretty realistic Thanksgiving turkey. Include that piece as you pretend to cook or feed a child’s favorite dolls or animals in the next couple of weeks. Emphasize the word “turkey” over and over as you play. Be sure to remind moms to talk about the real turkey they’ll eat on Thanksgiving day.

The internet abounds with pictures of a turkey for a child to color or paint. Print several to use for the next several days. I found several cute ones using Google image. Check out Pinterest if you are really selective.

One timeless idea is tracing a child’s hand and drawing an eye and mouth on the thumb to represent the turkey’s head and then coloring the fingers to represent feathers. (Your mom probably saved a picture you made like this from a Thanksgiving long ago!)

To make this even more fun, buy some colored feathers at a craft or dollar store. Teach a child to use a glue stick to attach the feathers on the turkey. Target verbs using verbal routines such as “Rub, rub, rub!” as you’re applying the glue stick and “Pat, pat, pat!” as you press the feathers and “Blow! Blow!” as you blow the picture to ‘help’ the glue dry. You can opt to use liquid glue from a bottle if you already have that on hand, but glue sticks are less messy and much more appealing for toddlers!

I hope you’ll use these ideas to have fun with your own little turkeys over the next couple of weeks!

Until tomorrow…



Do you need a “go to” resource for Therapy activities like this one? I’d love to recommend Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual. There are HUNDREDS of activities like this outlined for every milestone for toddlers 9 months to 48 months. Get your copy today!

The new book is full of ideas too! Let’s Talk About Talking.


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