Turkey Tape Resist Art might just be the most gorgeous activity I’ve ever shared on Busy Toddler. As complex as it may look, it’s simple to create and accessible to a wide range of ages/stages of child development. From toddlers to teens, this Thanksgiving activity works for all.
What is turkey tape resist art?
The “sister” to this activity is Spider Web Tape Resist Art, which quickly became the most popular I’ve ever shared on Instagram.
Tape resist art is the fancy term for using tape to create negative space in a piece of art. The tape “resists” the paint. Sometimes, the negative space defines the border and sometimes it creates an object.
In turkey tape resist art, the tape creates the turkey out of negative space when the tape is removed at the end of the activity.
Because of the tape, you can just slop on paint any old way and the tape is what creates the shape of the turkey… this is why this activity is so success with toddlers.
It’s not as complicated as it looks.
The colors. The large scale. The final product. Everything about this activity is absolute perfection.
But it truly only takes about 5 minutes of prep to make each turkey taped out on the cardboard.
I really try to avoid activities with elaborate prep times or complicated set-ups. While this looks tricky, it’s not. It just gives an illusion of complexity (but it’s not – I set it all up watching football one Sunday).
RELATED: Looking for more easy Thanksgiving activities? I have a GREAT list!
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- Cardboard – this allows the tape to pull up at the end.
- Painter’s tape – blue tape pulls up the easiest
- Washable paint – the paint we use (and I’ll never use another brand again)
- Large nylon brushes – I’ve tried to find these elsewhere, but this is the only place that sells them
- Muffin tin – to hold the paint
- Wash cloth – for kid drips and hand wipes
The set-up steps
Start with a rectangle of cardboard.
In the middle front, make a semi-circle out of tape in painter’s tape (which is the only style of tape I recommend for this).
- From there, I made 5 diagonal lines to section out the feathers.
- Down the middle of each section, I added another diagonal line.
- Last, I used smaller diagonal lines to connect to the large lines, making feather shapes.
It sounds complicated and to be honest, it is harder to explain than it is to do. Look at my photo for example – it’ll help!
Trust me. If I can do this, you can. Frankly, remembering how to spell diagonal when writing this post was harder…
Last, I added a little construction turkey face. I told my kids to not paint the turkey face. If your kids aren’t quite skilled enough in their motor development to avoid the face, add the face features last.
RELATED: Check out this great toddler Thanksgiving activity perfect for littles!
Notes (do not skip over these)
You do not need to do this on your wall:
I did because that helps me take better photos to show you (wink). You can do this anywhere that feels right to you. I’d recommend the floor or a table.
Doing an art project on the wall is great for arm strength – but I know it’s not for everyone.
Also, just FYI: my kids did not get washable paint on the walls. They know not to. This is a well established boundary and rule at our house (from toddler painting to today).
Soapbox: I use activities like this to teach my kids about rules and boundaries, and self-control. They know when and where they can paint.
Starting around 20 months old, I began letting the kids do coloring activities on the walls. Because they were given direct instructions on the rules and boundaries of an activity like this – and given the chance to do them – I’ve never had a single kid draw or paint on my walls (except for during an activity).
It’s kind of like water: in a bath tub, kids know they can dump and splash. But they know they can’t do that at dinner. Kids are really smart at transferring information.
I gave my kids specific paint colors to use
I didn’t! Instead, I made sure to take a tip from Art Bar Blog and I only gave them colors that could mix together nicely. We had red, yellow, orange, and white. This way, they could make a variety of shades and hues, enjoy so much learning, and not end up with muddy/gray turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Because my daughter is 5, I also gave her a little brown to darken her paint.
How to keep a kids painting space clean:
My secret weapon is always a wet wash cloth.
I set it with the kids and they can monitor their own drips. This starts best around 18 months old – and trust me: it’s a game changer. Kids stay 1000x cleaner when they have a wash cloth with them.
Adjusting for toddlers and preschoolers
Just make the activity smaller.
Make it a little more manageable for their attention spans by shrinking the size considerably. The size in my photos was great for my almost 6 year old but my new-to-4 year old was a tad overwhelmed at the size.
This activity is multi-age and can work with any child who is able to use paint (you as the caregiver can decide that) – just vary the size to meet everyone’s needs.
Tips on how to remove the tape
In the past, peeling up the tape from my tape resist art project has been a little challenging. Sometimes, the tape peels up the cardboard or the paint!
This time, I let the paint fully dry: a full 24 hours just to be safe. I went slowly, varying the direction I was pulling up from and taking my time.
Guess what? The tape came up just fine and the final product was spectacular.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is washable kids paint – it’s literally designed to be used with kids and wipes up at the end. It comes off walls, hard floors, and even clothing. My tip with clothing: Pre-wash the paint stain with hand soap, scrubbing hard, before tossing it in the washing machine.
I don’t… We kept this through Thanksgiving (it was beautiful and grandma “ooooh’d and aaaaah’d”). After Thanksgiving, we took pictures with our art and said farewell. I don’t have space to save these treasures, but I do save what I can and what will fit in our art portfolios.
That’s different for each child. Some will instinctively understand not to eat paint even at an early age. Some will treat art like a buffet. Use non-toxic kid paint always, be thoughtful about your child, monitor, supervise, and give chances to try again every few weeks. Kids grow and develop so far: they’ll stop eating paint literally over night (and you don’t want to miss when the magic of painting activities unlocks!).
Susie Allison, M. Ed
Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.
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