Family Handprint Turkey

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C is for Crafts: Family Handprint Turkey

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Gobble, gobble – it’s almost turkey day. And what could be better to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with than a family art project?  We have made a handprint turkey in the past by just tracing our hands on construction paper, but this year I knew that I wanted to try one with paint. We had such a great time making our Handprint Fireworks this summer that I was positive a turkey would turn out great! I do love a good hand or footprint project.  One of the most important parts of making successful handprint and footprint art is to plan ahead.  Gather all your supplies including clean up materials before you get the kids involved at all.  Are you ready to make a family handprint turkey? Here we go:

Family Handprint Turkey

Supplies

White cardstock

Brown, orange, red and green cardstock

Acrylic paint in fall colors

A container to hold the paint – I like to use recycled baby food containers for easy clean up!

Paint brushes – I used a small foam brush

Cutting Board – I used a heavy weight plastic board

Masking tape or painters tape

Baby wipes and paper towel

Paper cutter or scissors

Glue stick

Black pen or fine tipped marker

Step One – Paper

Carefully tape a piece of white cardstock to your cutting board – this will give you a nice hard surface for your family members to press their hands onto when making the prints.

Step Two – Planning

Think about how to best place the handprints on the page.  You will be cutting your handprints out later so spacing isn’t that important other than to get as many prints on a page as you can to save on cardstock.  I like to make multiple prints at a time (like 4-6) – this way I can pick the best ones once they dry or send the extras to friends and family as holiday greetings.

Step Three – Making the Prints

Make sure you have your supplies within arms reach before you start painting.  This includes extra paper, paint and your wipes and paper towel for clean up.  Choose a different color paint for each family member. The key is work quickly and efficiently once you begin. I started with my youngest child who I contained in her booster seat for the painting.  Using the foam brush I carefully painted one hand with paint making sure it was thoroughly covered but not too thick. Be sure to get those little fingers good!  We made it fun – making sound effects and pretending to tickle her palm worked well.  Once the paint is applied, quickly and firmly place the hand onto the paper, pressing down gently on each finger to get good contact with the paper. Young babies have a tendency to curl their toes and fingers under.  In my infant massage training, I learned that by gently running a finger across the top of the toes, you can trigger a reflex that causes a baby to fan out their toes briefly. This also works to open clenched up little fingers. I reapply paint lightly between each print.  After the last print is done, I wipe off the hand with baby wipes and then follow up with a paper towel to remove the remainder of the paint.  I repeated the process with my preschooler by having her sit on a kitchen chair and press her hand down onto the paper on the hard surface of a table. My husband and I went last. The girls had a ball helping to paint our hands too.

Using the same acrylic paint, I like to even out inconsistencies with the handprints to make them look more finished.  You can use your pinky finger or a cotton swab to round out finger prints that didn’t make full contact with the paper if necessary. Let the prints dry thoroughly before adding putting your turkey together.

Step Four – Putting the Turkey Together

Cut out your handprints fairly closely to the paint using a pair of scissors.  Pick a piece of colored cardstock for your background – I went with green this time to really help the colors of the “turkey feathers” stand out. Attach the largest handprint first using glue only on the hand, not on the fingers. Experiment with laying the rest of your handprints on the paper to get the look you want for your feathers. I chose to put the two big handprints behind the body of the turkey and the two small ones on top, but they can all be glued on behind the body if you prefer. Glue a large dark brown circle over the handprint to create the body of the turkey. I gently bent the fingers of the prints up a bit to give the turkey tail feathers some depth.

Now that your turkey has its tail feathers and body, it is time to add the details. To create the look of the head and neck, cut a pear shaped piece of lighter brown paper. Don’t get too fussy about the shape – I just cut mine freehand and it turned out fine. Glue this piece on top of the body. Add eyes, an orange beak, a red wattle ( I had to look that up – all I could think of was a “gobbler” – hahaha!), and some orange legs to finish it off. He’s a good looking handprint turkey now, hmmm?

Step Five – Framing

Using my paper cutter, I cut a sheet of paper just larger than the background sheet to make a contrasting orange frame. I attached my handprint turkey to the mat using my gluestick.  Don’t forget to finish the project by adding your child’s name and their age or the year somewhere on the print.

As I have mentioned before, I just love hand and footprint art.  My girls have come home from daycare with some adorable projects.  I asked their teachers if they had any tricks for getting such great prints from even the littlest kids.  They told me they teach the toddlers to give them high fives and practice it regularly in the classroom.  Then when it comes to making a handprint they simply tell the child to give a “high five” and the child knows just what to do. How clever! My kids have gotten so used to doing these kinds of projects that they know just what to do without much fuss or mess. They were even telling Daddy what he needed to do today!

I hope you enjoy making your family handprint turkey as much as we did. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday from me and my little turkeys! Blessings!

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