Turkey Trouble.

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Students will be able to retell familiar stories including some key details about the events.

Big Idea

Recalling a turkey's clever disguises helps students retell a story which helps to build comprehension skills.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I use the SMARTBoard to show them a clip made by The Learning Station called Ten Little Turkeys.

Once the clip is over I ask the students, “Why do you think the little red hen was telling the turkeys to hide?”

Of course most of the students want to answer the question so I use the Fair Sticks to select a student to respond. 

“That’s right April, Thanksgiving is coming and people do generally eat turkey at Thanksgiving.”

“Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the National bird to represent the United States of America? It’s true. Just think what might have happened if the turkey was the national bird? Do you think we would be eating turkey for Thanksgiving?”

I take a couple of responses to this question.  

“Well today we are going to read a book about a turkey who knows Thanksgiving is coming.”


I use the video as a way to peak my students interest in the topic and help them make a connection to the main character of the book we about to read in the activity part of the lesson. When students are able to make a connection to an event or character they tend to be more engaged. 


40 minutes

“This book is called Turkey Trouble. It is written by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper.”

“Looking at the cover I definitely see a turkey in trouble. Can anyone tell me how they think this turkey is going to get out of trouble?”

I select two or three students to respond to this question.

“Those were all great ideas on ways to get out of trouble. Let’s go ahead and read to find out if turkey uses any of your ideas.”


As soon as turkey puts on his first disguise I ask the students, “What has turkey done and why did he do it?”

I select one or two students to respond to the question.

“Those were great answers. Rachel when you said he got dressed up like a horse, there is a special word for that. Does anyone think they know the special word which means I get dressed up to look like something else so no one will recognize me?”

“That’s right Finn, I put on a disguise. In our forest unit we talked about animals using camouflage where they used colors to make themselves look like their natural surroundings. Here turkey is using a disguise which means I put something else on to look different. Both words help me to hide from danger, but they use different methods.”

The reason I discuss the word "disguise" with the students is because I want them to understand the subtle difference between "disguise" and "camouflage." This discussion helps build the students vocabulary bank and they will be able to use the words in the correct context when discussing animals in science, characters in stories or people pretending to be something else.  

As we read I try to subtly point out the fact that we are given clues by the illustrator as to what turkey is going to disguise himself as next. “Does anyone else see any other animals on this page?”

“Yes, I see the pig too Shelby. I wonder what that means.”

“What was that Owen? You think the pig is there because that is what turkey will be next? I wonder if you are right.”

I turn the page.

“Hey you were right Owen. I think the illustrator is giving us clues to turkey’s next disguise. Let’s keep our eyes open and check as we go.” This helps keep my audience focused on the book.


When the story is over I let the students know they will now be working on recalling the order of disguises turkey used in the story. Turkey Trouble Retell 

SMARTBoard screen     SMARTBoard screen and student

After we have recalled turkey’s disguises in order as a group, I tell the students they will now have to record the order of disguises on their own recording sheet. “Recording the order of turkey’s disguises will help you be able to tell the story to your families tonight. You will need to draw what turkey is – that is your picture clue, and you will need to label what turkey is – that is your written clue.” Retelling books

“At your station you will find the Turkey Trouble Retell Chart, pencils, crayons and a copy of the book. Tell me, what are some of the resources I could use to recall the order of the story?”

I select two or three students to respond to this question – enough to get all of the resources mentioned. 

“That is right. I could use my friends, the book and the SMARTBoard to recall the information I need to complete this assignment.”  

Student working and using resource     Student using resources

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once the students understand the directions I send them over to the work stations one group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom environment. It sounds a bit like this:

“Station number one go have some turkey fun.

Station number two you know what to do.

Station number three hope you were listening to me.

Station number four shouldn’t be here anymore.”

These are not always done in that order so the students have to pay attention to when their station actually gets called.

Students working on the rug     Students working on the rug 2     Student working on the rug     Students clipboard      


Allow the students 20 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Turkey retell sample 1       Turkey retell sample 2       Turkey retell sample 3

The first sample is from one of my higher performing students. This student has clear neat drawings and she was able to label the disguises herself. 

The next sample is from one of my middle performing students. This student was able to use the book herself to find the words to label the disguises used by the main character. 

The final student sample is from a student who needed teacher assistance to find the correct words. The student was able to verbally tell the teacher the disguise order, but when it was time to label the disguises assistance was needed to find the words within the text. 


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me there favorite disguise from the story. I use the fair sticks to select the order in which the students respond to the request.

Once a student has told me his/her favorite disguise they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. 

This exit ticket process closes out the activity by having the students recall their favorite disguise which can lead to a student discussion at the snack table about why they selected a particular disguise. This extends the students thinking as they will attempt to justify their choice to their peers. 


For this assignment I use the checklist to go over the students work. Once the Turkey Trouble Retell Checklist has been completed I attach it to the student’s work and place it in the student’s working portfolio.

Portfolio Explanation


Later in the day I tell the students for homework they will be taking home a turkey outline which they have to disguise as anything but a turkey. Once the turkey has been disguised the students write about what it is. Families are encouraged to help disguise the bird which is then put on display on the bulletin board in our hallway.

Disguise the turkey homework letter     Turkey bulletin board     Me as a turkey