Turkey crafts are all around this time of year! This fun cardboard turkey is a great Thanksgiving activity that doubles as a therapy tool for kids. It is a juicebox cover, making it a fun way for kids to use their little cardboard turkey, but it also is a fine motor craft AND a way to help kids regulate by adding proprioceptive input through oral motor sensory input. We’ll get into more on this below.
While taking the time to run out and purchase craft materials can be difficult this time of year, and adding that extra expense isn’t always a possibility, using materials that you have on hand for kids crafts is the way to go. This cardboard turkey is a cardboard tube craft. We used a cut paper towel roll for the turkey craft and had some of the other materials in our craft closet.
For this cardboard turkey craft you’ll need just a few materials:
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- Cardboard roll (paper towel roll)
- Feathers (these are available at the dollar store, or on Amazon, but you could substitute these with paper cut feathers, too.)
- Red and orange paper (or draw them on with a marker)
- Googly eyes
- Juice box
Glue those details onto the cardboard roll and this turkey is ready to make someone smile!
Colored feathers and googly eyes, along with a couple of little crafting scraps made a simple cardboard tube into a party-friendly turkey… just in time for Thanksgiving dinner!
If you are just making a cardboard turkey craft and skipping the juice box cover portion of this Thanksgiving craft, you could definitely use a recycled toilet paper roll to make a cute toilet paper roll turkey craft. But, if you are going to make this into a juicebox cover, I would go with using a paper towel roll instead.
So, let’s discuss the benefits to making this turkey craft into a Thanksgiving juice box cover…
Turkey Juice Box Cover
This cardboard turkey would work without the juice box part, but we added that as an oral sensory input opportunity to allow children to get a little calming sensory input through the straw. Plus, it’s a great way for children to see their handiwork in action right on the juice box.
To make the cardboard turkey into a juice box cover, cut the paper tube with one cut strait down. Wrap the cardboard tube around the juice box and secure with clear tape. Gather your colorful feathers and tape in place on the back of the juice box.
Oral sensory input with a straw
Sucking is a form of calming sensory input through the mouth, and it’s a way to offer children organizing sensory input in situations when they might have trouble regulating their sensory systems.
Sucking through a small straw like a coffee stirrer can be calming and provide organizing input, a juice box straw is an easily accessible sensory tool that might be overlooked.
When kids such through that small straw, they are getting heavy work, or proprioception through the mouth and jaw. This is very organizing for children as it allows them to become aware of proprioception (even if they don’t realize it). This deep pressure allows for resistive work in the mouth. It takes effort to suck in through a small straw, and that offers a quick way to add calming input.
Sucking in through a small straw is a way to offer sensory input for sensory seekers, but it’s also a way to support a child’s sensory needs by offering calming and resistive oral motor input.
Now, the parents reading this are probably thinking the same thing that I immediately think of when I see a small child with a juice box. What happens as soon as that child has a juice box in their hand? They squeeze it and juice streams out of the straw all over the place, right?
Here’s the thing about juice boxes- there is a contradiction on it’s benefits and detriments. The oral sensory input when a child sucks on a juice box straw is perfect for helping kids with sensory needs, and to help them develop oral motor control. However, that squeezable little cardboard box is so easy to squeeze the juice right into a toddler’s mouth.
So, using a juice box cover that invites children to gently hold the juice box, rather than squeezing it in a death grip of streaming, sticky juice is so powerful! Children can use the turkey juice cover we made and either not use their hands to squeeze the juice box OR, they can gently hold the turkey craft and use their mouth to suck the juice. They can gaining oral sensory input and oral motor skills. What a win-win!
Here is more information on oral motor skills development.
Read here to understand the connection between oral motor skills and problem eating.
This is a great resource on pediatric feeding and the differences between sensory issues and oral motor issues.
This oral motor exercise is another way to add proprioceptive input through the mouth as a calming and organizing sensory tool.
Wouldn’t this little guy be perfect for a preschool party or on the kid table at Thanksgiving dinner?
Looking for a few more cardboard turkey crafts?
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to email@example.com.