Last week we had a "visitor" in our ESL classroom. We had a 30 pound mounted (stuffed) wild tom turkey borrowed from a local taxidermist. My room is rather small (think...glorified closet), so Tom took up quite a bit of room on my round table. My students were surprised and awestruck by the turkey. They carefully circled the table and examined the bird closely. I was surprised myself at how intricate the turkey's feathers were. Some of the feathers were small and others larger. Some were soft and others very stiff. Still others were white and mottled with tan while others were all shades of brown and iridescent. And, surprisingly, the beard feathers feel like stiff hairs...not like feathers at all!
I found a very nice simple non-fiction book about turkeys at the school library and read the book with my students. We learned about wattles, spurs, snoods, hens, toms, poults and caruncles! I also found some great YouTube videos showing how wild tom turkeys make their gobbling noise and how tom turkeys show off to female hens by puffing up their feathers. By the time we were finished, my students were turkey experts. I heard other students asking them questions about the turkey and my ELL's were proudly answering.
Too often all students see are cartoony clip art depictions of turkeys. It was worth every moment of putting up with Tom and his glassy "stare" for a few days in order to provide a memorable experience for my students! Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble!