Kids Thanksgiving Crafts: Turkey Paint Stick

Posted by the Mom (aka Kelly Biedny)


When I came up with this cute turkey, Sophia and I were hanging out in our craft room, just playing with various craft ‘stuff’ we had laying around.  I knew I wanted to do something Thanksgiving oriented, and since we have an abundance of toilet paper and paper towel rolls on hand, I wanted to use them some how.  After staring at all the various supplies in front of me for awhile and brainstorming with Sophia, this adorable little guy was born.  We decided to use ours in a plant, but you could incorporate it into a Thanksgiving center piece.

Now, I made this one, not Sophia, but it was super easy and would be perfect for kids from pre-school on up.  Obviously the turkey face will look different for a younger painter, but that’s what makes it fun!  You could also use googly eyes and felt for the face too, if you want to avoid detail painting.

If you want to make your own Thanksgiving Turkey Paint Stick, here’s what you’ll need:

  • A paint stir stick (it can be used, you’ll paint over the color)
  • Two empty paper towel rolls
  • Acrylic paints in brown, white, yellow, red, orange and black (although you could get more creative with tail colors if you want)
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun
  • Paint brushes
  • Optional: googley eyes, orange felt, red felt
  • Modge podge protective spray

Step 1: Paint Your Stick
The first thing you’ll do is paint your paint stick all brown, both sides and all edges.  You might have to let one side dry before doing the other.  This step is easy and kids of any age will have fun with it.

Step 2: Cut Your Feathers
Next you’ll want to cut your paper towel rolls down the side, so you can open them up…basically so they are not round tubes anymore, but more of a curved, sheet of cardboard.  Cut them so they are about 10 inches long, or however long you want your turkey’s feathers to be.  Then cut them into about 1 1/2 to 2 inch strips.  We used 8 strips. Two paper towel rolls should be sufficient.

Once the strips are cut, you’ll want to make little feather-y edges along each.  Just cut little slits around each strip as shown in the picture.

2kids-PaintStickTurkey2This step is good for kids that are good with scissors. For younger kids you could draw lines where you want cuts so they have a bit of a template, making it easier to cut the right size.

Step 3: Paint Your Feathers
Once the feather strips are cut and slitted, it’s time to paint them.  You start by just painting each a solid color.  Since we had 8 feathers, we did two of each color, brown, orange, yellow and red.  Again, this is good for even pre-school kids.

Step 4: Paint or Add Details to Stick
To make our turkey look more interesting, I added some texture to the chest area by adding some white to our brown paint and then adding ‘chest feathers.’  To do this I dabbed my brush in the mixed light brown paint and then dabbed it again on a paper towel to get some of the extra paint off.  Then, I dabbed the drier, paint-filled brush on the chest are of my turkey to add some feather like texture to the chest.  With this step, add as much or little texture as you want.  A quick tutorial with a kid as young as pre-school should be sufficient for them to get the desired results.  Remember, if you want to make your turkey stripped, you can, this is just what I did on our turkey 😀

At this time, you are planning on painting your turkey face on, this is the time to do that as well.  If your going to glue on googley eyes and a felt beak and gobbler, you can wait ’til the gluing on the feathers.  If you do paint on your face, you can paint it like ours in the pic, or get creative with your own turkey face design.


Step 5: Add Shading to Feathers
Once your turkey’s feathers have dried, it’s time to add some texture to them.  Using a similiar technique as used with the chest feathers, dab some brown paint on a brush and then again on a paper towel to make the brush drier.  Then just dab and brush around the edges of the feather to add some depth.  For the brown feathers we used orange to add the depth.  You can look at all the pictures to see how we did it, but there is no right or wrong way, just have fun and make your feathers look as you want.

Step 6: Glue Feathers to Stick
After every part of your turkey is dry, it’s time to put it all together.  This step is best for older kids or adults because of the hot glue gun involved.  Heat-up your glue gun and then glue your feathers on the back of the stick in whatever order you like.  We did a pattern as you can see, but however you want to put them on is just fine!


If you decided on the googley eye and felt face, this is when you should glue it on as well.  You’ll want to make sure to cut out your beak and gobbler to the appropriate shape (as shown in the turkey face pics)…then just glue ’em on.

Step 7: Spray
To make your Turkey a little shiny and to protect him, you’ll want to spray him with a protective spray.  We use modge podge brand protective spray.  We also bent up our feathers a bit as well, to make them look more feather-y. 😀

That’s all there is to it!

Do you like our paint stick craft? Let us know with a comment!


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Kelly, Alex and Sophia

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