I was looking for a way to make common core math standards practice more meaningful and fun for students and it hit me – combine a favorite game concept with learning math! My students love playing Stuff the Turkey during Thanksgiving week – they toss stuffing ingredients into a paper bag turkey. I wanted to capture the fun of the game with the real-life concept of stuffing and cooking a Thanksgiving turkey. So I created a Stuff the Turkey math center and small group activity.
I not only needed to have a meaningful learning center that students would want to use but it also needed to be differentiated because my students have a wide range of learning levels. This is what I came up with and it has worked wonderfully so far!
Stuff the Turkey Math Center
I made the turkey for the center similar to the turkey we use for the stuff the turkey game using brown paper lunch bags, scrap paper, and white tissue paper.
I had students help me make the stuffing by wadding up pieces of scrap paper. We used green for celery, brown for bread, and white for onions.
When setting up this Thanksgiving center I wanted it to be realistic so I added a few kitchen props – a turkey baster, serving dish, pan, tongs (for fine motor practice) – along with the paper bag turkey, stuffing pieces, recipe cards, center directions, and exit ticket pages.
I used this in my small groups first so that I could explain how to use it before putting it in a center. I told students that they were in charge of stuffing and cooking the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner this year and there are many different recipes out there for turkey stuffing to try. Each recipe is different as far as what ingredients it uses.
Read the recipe card
The first thing students do is read their recipe card. Each recipe card is different according to the skill on which it focuses and the skill level. I color coded them so I could easily keep them straight and differentiate for my students.
Counting to 10 and Counting to 20
The first set of cards focuses on counting skills (common core standards K.CC.A.3, K.CC.B.4, K.CC.B.5). Some students still need practice with numbers 1-10 while others work on the “tricky teens” 11-20. Students read the total number of stuffing pieces and put the correct amount in the turkey.
Addition to 5 and Addition to 10
The next set of cards focuses on addition (common core standards K.OA.A.1, K.OA.A.2, K.OA.A.5). Some students work on addition to 5 while others are ready for addition to 10. Students combine the 2 ingredients shown on the recipe card by counting out each ingredient and adding them to the turkey.
The last set of cards focuses on making 10 from numbers 1-9 (common core standard K.OA.A.4). Students have to figure out the missing ingredient on their recipe card. The recipe calls for 10 total pieces of stuffing, however the recipe card does not show how much bread to add to the recipe to make 10. Students use the turkey and stuffing pieces to solve the problem. The different colored ingredients make it easier for students to visualize the math problem.
Stuff the Turkey
After students read the ingredients needed for their recipe they count and add the correct amount of stuffing pieces to the turkey. I place a set of tongs at the center to give them that all important fine motor skill practice!
“Cook” & “Baste” the Turkey
This step is optional but I add it in to help make the center more realistic and fun for students. They lay the turkey in the pan and use the baster to pretend to baste the turkey.
Serve and Count the Stuffing
After the turkey is “cooked” it is ready to serve. Students remove the stuffing from the turkey by dumping it in the bowl.
Students then count the total number of stuffing pieces their recipe made. The fact that the stuffing pieces are different colors helps students visualize the addition problem and the making 10 activity.
Record Findings on Exit Ticket Page
I tell students that they need to “take notes” about how much stuffing each recipe they tried made by completing an exit ticket page. These pages are also differentiated according to my students’ skill levels.
I made two differentiated counting exit ticket pages – one that requires students to match the number from their recipe card to a number on their exit ticket and fill in the ten frame and one where they are required to write the number from their recipe card and fill in the ten frame.
I also made differentiated addition exit ticket pages – one that provides the two numbers from the recipe card and the student is required to just write the sum and one that requires the student to write the entire addition equation.
The exit ticket page for making 10 requires students to fill in the missing number (ingredient) to make 10.
Students enjoyed this center so much that they also use it in our dramatic play kitchen area – learning through play is the best!!