Looking for a fantastic Thanksgiving fine motor activity? This turkey haircut activity is a fun, seasonal way to practice scissor skills with a holiday twist. Grab a plate, some craft feathers, and scissors. You don’t want to miss this fun.
What is a Thanksgiving fine motor activity?
Hands down, doing a turkey haircut has been my son’s favorite of all the Thanksgiving activities we’ve done this November.
Maybe it was because of the scissors…
Maybe it was because of the slight “breaking the rules” in cutting something’s hair…
Whatever it was, making a turkey haircut activity was a darn good idea – and with major benefits to his growth and development beyond the surface level fun.
RELATED: Looking for more Thanksgiving activities for kids? Here’s the best list!
Why this did not result in actual hair cutting
My biggest fear as a mom – you know, aside from anything really morbid – is a kid-done haircut. I literally shutter at the thought of my kids playing beauty shop.
That’s probably what makes this turkey haircut activity so ironic: I’m literally bringing parts of my fears to life…
Don’t worry, no kid hair was harmed during or after this activity.
If anything, this cutting practice gave my son and me a few minutes to talk about how you NEVER CUT YOUR OWN HAIR. Sorry for shouting. I just really needed to get my point across.
Often, we assume kids will know a right or wrong rule, and we only discover they didn’t know that rule until after something has happened. Like drawing on the wall. All too often we wait until after the wall has been colored to have that yes or no conversation.
Instead: let’s be pro-active.
In this activity, we talked about cutting hair. Family rules. When cutting hair is a yes (the barber shop), when it’s a no (on our own). This gave us that time to have a very explicit conversation of what is expected vs unexpected behaviors around scissors in our home.
Boom! All that from a Thanksgiving fine motor activity. Who knew?!
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I recognize that “feathers” isn’t the most traditional activity supply to have on hand. We often find bags at the Dollar store which is great for the budget.
If you have a crafty child, having feathers on hand is super helpful and thoughtful for their crafting. It’s a random supply, yes, but a good one to have on hand.
This did take me about 3 minutes to set up – pretty steep, I know, considering I love a no-prep activity like nobody’s business but this was worth it.
- Draw a face on the plate.
- Tape feathers to the back of the plate.
- Hand over the scissors.
I started by drawing a turkey face on the plate then flipped it over and started taping on the feathers. I was pretty liberal with my tape and really let it fly.
I wanted to make sure they were on there good and wouldn’t fall off while my son was cutting.
Tip – Kids need to practice their scissor skills
While scissor skills seem benign and second nature to adult, kids are not born knowing how to use scissors and it’s actually not that intuitive of a skill.
They need guidance, patience, and lots and lots of practice. It’s important when kids start school that they’ve had loads of cutting practice at home. More and more children are entering school with less and less skills with scissors. It’s a combination of assuming kids will learn on their own, fear of risk, and less time at home for crafting.
Scissor skills is a kindergarten readiness skill, and one that kids desperately need to work on before they head off to school. Please do not overlook scissor skills.
RELATED: Looking for a good pair of kid scissors. See some great scissor recommendations here.
How the Thanksgiving fine motor activity went
My son (4 years old) absolutely loved this turkey haircut activity.
He worked so hard and so quietly to cut his turkey’s hair into something a bit more presentable. Apparently even paper turkeys need to get a Thanksgiving/Holidays haircut.
Flipping the plate this way and that, twisting it in his hand, and eye-balling his line – my son went into full barber mode cutting this turkey’s hair.
This definitely made a pretty good mess…we tried to keep the feathers near the tray but it didn’t really catch them all. Good thing we have a vacuum cleaner.
The concentration he left to this Thanksgiving fine motor activity was a 10/10. I still can’t believe that doing a turkey haircut would hold his attention like it did.
Don’t miss this tip for holding scissors
Like I mentioned above, scissor skills are not intuitive. Children often raise their arm and twist their hands while learning to cut which makes it so much harder to snip.
Try this tip: Put a sticker or draw a smiley face on the child’s thumb. Tell them to “keep the smile up” while they cut. This gives them a concrete way to monitor their scissoring and self-manage their work.
It also makes them roughly 1,430-times more successful (okay that’s not a real statistic but it feels real).
Frequently Asked Questions
First off, I’m left-handed and so is my husband.
Lefties are incredible. There are many things we have to adjust while living in a very right-handed world, although it is often boiled down to just scissors. It’s more than just scissors.
I use right-handed scissors in my right hand. That’s how I adapted. I’m very grateful I learned on right-handed scissors because the world doesn’t have left handed scissors. In classrooms, offices, friend’s houses, businesses, and every junk drawer: right handed scissor are what’s available.
If I used left handed scissors, I would need to carry scissors with me always OR not be able to participate in cutting anything outside my home. I’m so glad I can use right handed scissors. It makes my life more accessible for me.
If you have a child who is left handed, I suggest starting with right handed scissors. Many lefties use right scissors in their left hand. That’s their adaptation. They can still use scissors out in the world, they just move them to their left hand.
Your child also might do what many lefties do: right handed scissors in our right hand. Don’t be shocked by this.
If your child is struggling to find an adaptation, then I would buy a left handed pair of scissors to see if that helps. Some lefties don’t adapt on this. That’s ok! I never adapted to using an ice cream/cookie scoop in my right hand (yes, that’s another thing we have to adapt).
Lefties are amazing. You can best support your leftie by giving them freedom of choice. Do not force them to use their right hand and do not assume they’ll always use their left.
I have a whole list of kindergarten readiness skills that I would love to share with you. Spoiler alert: kindergarten readiness is NOT as academic as you may have been led to believe. From asking questions to losing gracefully to scissor skills: kindergarten readiness is more about independence from parents than academic knowledge.
That depends on you and the child, but typically between 2-3 years old is when scissors are first introduced. Remember to: model, practice, discuss, and explore scissors often.
Also at this age, remember to explore cutting beyond paper, like in this turkey haircut activity, nature cutting bin, or this spaghetti bin. Learning to cut off paper makes scissor skills more fun and accessible.