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It has arrived – the project I’ve been dreading: The Turkey Project.

The Turkey Project was cooked up by some masochistic teacher I don’t know when, but my current second-grader is the fourth of my children to be assigned this project.  It’s a second-grade staple at our school.

So, what is The Turkey Project?  It’s part of the second grade social studies unit at my kids’ school.  Rather than explaining the whole thing, I present you with an explanation in photos:


IMG_2884IMG_2883IMG_2882I despise this project – second only to The Pig Project, which is a second grade staple at our school every spring, as well (stay tuned).

While studying family history and different cultures is certainly valuable, the problems I have with this project are many:

  • Do you see how the instruction sheet is addressed to the parents, and not to the students?  It appears that I am expected to do this project.  I am being instructed to cut out and dress the turkey (and I may use whatever materials I wish!).  I already did second grade, thank you very much.  How will it help my child if I do the project? How does that instill responsibility and independent learning skills – both things that are touted over and over again as some of the supposed benefits of homework?
  • ” . . . a family project that we hope you will enjoy.”  Well, thanks for the sentiment, but we have plenty to do as a family and really do not need or appreciate these filler projects.  Our family time is our time, not the school’s time.
  • Even the second instruction sheet which is addressed to the “families” rather than just the “parents” is still mainly directed at us parents.  It is telling me what sources to use for “our” research.
  • The main problem I have with this project is the turkey itself.  WHAT IS THE POINT OF DRESSING A PAPER TURKEY IN TRADITIONAL ETHNIC CLOTHING?  What educational purpose does this serve?  I understand learning about family histories and cultures, and I get how turkeys tie into the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but WHAT VALUE IS THERE IN DRESSING A PAPER TURKEY?  Not only have I come up empty-handed on this question for four years now – ever since my  now sixth-grader was assigned this project in second grade – but I also can’t figure out how any teacher can possibly expect a second-grader to have the fine motor skills to carry this out.  Do you know how awkward it is to try to fashion clothing for a paper turkey?  It’s absurd.  But wait – I am expected to do this, right?

The turkey was traced onto cardstock and is about 18 inches high.  Lilah had her older sister cut it out for her, because I refused.  It’s not that I don’t want to be helpful to my child – it’s that I refuse to invest my precious time in time-wasting projects like this.  Lilah sat down at the laptop, eager to begin researching her chosen country, Germany.  Only, she doesn’t even know how to spell “Germany,” and she hasn’t the first clue as to how to go about conducting research.  I asked her if her teacher had talked to the class about how to do research for their projects, and she said, “No.”  Great.  So, either I’m supposed to teach Lilah how to do research, or I’m supposed to do it for her.  Isn’t that the teacher’s job?

I do plan to bring my concerns to the teacher’s attention.  Can we stop the madness?