Studying Colors and/or Body Parts with Thanksgiving Turkeys

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Name of Teacher: Miriam Horsley

Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary (2-4); if modified can work with 1, 5, and 6 as well Textbook and specific lesson: N/A Goal: Cultural exposure, study/review of colors and/or body parts

Preparation: Warm-up song (optional), color flashcards, body parts flashcards, short Thanksgiving presentation, a sheet of paper for every student, a sample turkey. (Students will need a set of Coupy or colored pencils and a pencil) Class time: Whole class (~45 minutes)


- Teach students about the basics of Thanksgiving - Study or review colors and/or body parts

- Make hand turkeys with the English you’ve learned

1. Start with the usual greetings and warm-ups. After saying hello and going through “How are you?” questions, I have them sing a song. Depending on the focus of the lesson (colors, body parts, or culture) and the students’ level you can use different songs, including “Red Yellow Green Blue,” (Super Simple Songs) “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” or anything with a Thanksgiving theme.

2. After warming up, introduce the English you’ll be studying. For the younger grades it’s better to focus on colors; for older students you may not have to review colors at all, and can focus on body parts. Run through the vocabulary (colors or body parts) as many times as necessary.

3. If the students need more practice, play a short round of “Find the Color” or “Simon Says.” This will help them remember the target vocabulary without them getting bored, but be careful to leave time for the activity.

4. Next, give a short presentation on Thanksgiving. This can be as simple or as complicated as you like (mine isn’t more than 5 minutes), but it’s best to focus on two things: the meaning of “Thanksgiving” (holiday of thankfulness/gratitude, or かんしゃ) and the fact that you eat turkey (シチメンチョウ). It’s best to include lots of pictures, especially of turkeys!

5. Ask them to take out a pencil and their Coupy sets, and give each student a piece of paper. Explain that they are going to make turkeys, and show them your example (the bigger the better, for visibility).

6. Using simple English and demonstrating on the chalk board as you go, make hand turkeys. For younger grades, if you haven’t studied body parts, use gestures and demonstrations, and have the homeroom teacher give hints if necessary.

- Let’s draw our hand! (Trace your hand on the board)

- Let’s draw an eye/nose/arm/legs/feet! (Draw on the board as you go)

7. To color the turkey, use gestures or body part words to tell them where each color goes. The tail feathers are tricky, so I use chalk to “shade” the feather they’re coloring as we go. Each feather is a different color so they get practice with as many colors as possible.

- Let’s color the head brown!

- Let’s color the legs yellow!

- Let’s color this red/yellow/green/orange!

8. If there is extra time you can add details like a red gobble (this is where pictures of turkeys come in handy), a black hat (pilgrim style), a blue sky, etc. You can also have them cut their turkeys out and write “Happy Thanksgiving!” or something they’re thankful (○○にかんしゃする) for on the back, depending on how much time you have.

9. You can allow the students to take the turkeys home, or if the homeroom teacher is okay with it you can hang them in the classroom.

10. Finish with the usual endings and a “Happy Thanksgiving!” (See second page for notes)