I’m working today, but it’s a fun day!
Today we are making turkeys!!
I did a lot of prepping for a potential of 72 patients at a psychiatric hospital. Keep in mind that some people come into the hospital for suicide or self-harm, so it is not safe to have a whole bunch of people using scissors all at the same time. I sometimes bring one scissor for 1 person to use at a time (if that person is safe to use them), but I can have up to 15 people or even more in one group, and that’s just too many scissors to bring, keep track of, and keep safe, so everything had to be precut!! I lead 4 groups a day, and today, 3 of the groups were back to back. Having everything precut allowed for everything to flow more smoothly and made the project manageable to complete in the 45-minute time span each group had. I had Thanksgiving themed coloring sheets for anyone who finished early or who just wanted to do something later on to fill the time in between groups.
As far as the administration of the project, I decided to keep each part of the project in separate bins, and for each step I went person to person for them to pick out each part. Go to the gallery to see how I prepped for each part.
We went step by step and did the project together so nobody got confused as I work with people whose minds may be slowed or jumbled from depression or psychosis. The step by step sequencing and the structured nature of the task helps bring order and clarity to the brain and helps the patient feel more in control. Not to mention that this project is fun, and it’s very easy to be successful at this, so it can help the patient with their mood and self- esteem. One lady was very tearful to be away from home during Thanksgiving, but she was smiling by the end of the group. Another patient told me that it really did help his brain think more clearly, and he thanked me for helping him. I work with adults and teenagers and feared that some might think it’s too childish, but everyone enjoyed themselves and seemed to appreciate the activity. They all expressed gratitude! I loved bringing the fun and good cheer. Even a few psyche techs got in on the action!! Everyone had such fun, and it was so satisfying and enjoyable to see all the variations of the turkeys! One turkey had 4 eyes! One had a beak on its head! One had words on their feathers. One turkey wore a skirt and displayed Pride colors. One turkey had tissue paper added to the body. One turkey had a mustache! Only a couple of people braved the raffia.
Directions for the Turkey making:
Step 1: I passed out the half circle for the turkey body first. To fold the half circle into a turkey body hold it so the rounded part is facing the floor. Grasp the two top ends with your thumbs and bring together to make a cone, and then glue. Hold for a few seconds. (Did I mention that having to be patient with the glue helps with frustration tolerance?)
Step 2: Pick out 3-5 feathers. I had these pre-cut out of construction paper. Certainly, you, at home, could use real feathers, but feathers can be sharp and aren’t safe for people who may harm themselves. If you choose, you can draw on the feathers to make them look more realistic. (Look in the gallery to see how I prepared the feathers.) I highly recommend that you do any drawing you need on your feathers before you glue it to your turkey. It’s easier to draw on a flat, hard surface than on flimsy paper sticking up in the air! You could glue each feather one at a time on the back of your turkey where your seam is, or you could glue all your feathers together, overlapping them at the bottom and then fanning them out. I found this to be easier than gluing one at a time. Then, put a healthy dab of glue in the middle of where they all overlap, then place your turkey cone on top of it so that you have some feathers sticking out behind it. Again, you’re going to have to patiently hold it all together until it sticks before moving on to the next part.
Step 3: Pick out your eyes. I used circle hole punchers on white watercolor paper to make the eyes, but you could certainly use google eyes or buttons if you have them or just draw circles and cut them out. I drew a black inner circle on the eye circle and then an oval for the highlighted part of the eye, then colored it in- all but the oval- which is the highlight where the light reflects. See the example. Sharpies work best, but they are sharp objects, so I just brought black markers for this part. Again, it is best to draw your eye features before gluing them down. You can experiment with where or how they look best before gluing them onto your turkey.
Step 4: Pick out your beak and glue it down just under the eyes. (See gallery for directions on how to make the beak.) Put glue on the folded end and a little below so there will be enough surface to glue down and stick to the cone, but leave the bottom part of the beak free and unglued so you can glue a gobbler under it.
Step 5: Glue your gobbler down under the beak!!
Now you’re set!!
Emblishments: If you want you can add embellishments. I had raffia to make into hair for those people who are really ambitious and have good frustration tolerances. It is messy and frustrating. It’s hard to get the raffia to stick, and you need to glue one piece at a time and hold it in place. It will result in getting glue all over your fingers, and the raffia will fall off if you don’t hold it long enough. However, it does look cute! You can decide if it’s worth the hassle! Yarn or ribbons could be another idea.
Another idea is to add small pieces of tissue paper to the turkey with glue water, or add glitter, sequins, felt, or scraps of material, etc. You can be as creative as you want to be!
Just note for a group this size it took about 4-8 hours of prep work. I’m embarrassed to admitt that! I broke it up into two days, and on the 2nd day my daughter and I did it together while watching the survivor show called, “Alone.”